Tuesday, May 6, 2003, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


MC tightens noose to claim pending water bills
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 5
The Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh has disconnected more than 1,200 water connections in the recent past, following non-payment of water bills.

Further, to cope up with the revenue losses, running into crores of rupees, the local body has decided to approach the state governments of Punjab and Haryana, Union Government and UT Administration to get the pending water bills cleared.

According to the Chief Engineer of MC, Mr V.K. Bharadwaj, there were 1,366 defaulters in various categories that included 132 government offices.

A sum of Rs 4,82,000 was outstanding against various departments of the Punjab Government, Rs 2,99,000 against departments of Haryana Government, Rs. 5.15 lakh against departments of Union Government and a sum of Rs. 1.63 crore against various departments of UT Administration.

As of today, at least 135 defaulters have cleared their outstanding amount. These include government premises as well as private, commercial and residential buildings. Water supply to the remaining defaulters had been disconnected.

When contacted, Mr Swaran Singh Kanwal, Superintending Engineer of the Public Health Wing of MC, disclosed that the MC has decided to approach the state governments of Punjab and Haryana, Union Government and UT Administration to get the pending water bills cleared.

The matter first came into light when Congress councillor Pradeep Chhabra asked a question on the issue in the General House meeting of the MC, last month. Interestingly, around 10 sub-offices of the different wings of the MC were also found to be among the defaulters. It was unanimously decided by the General House to serve notices to the defaulters to get the pending bills cleared.

Officials of the Public Health Wing of the MC, however, declined to comment when asked whether the different wings of the MC had cleared their pending bills or not.

However, the Commissioner of Chandigarh Municipal Corporation, Mr M.P. Singh said, “So far as the recovery of outstanding amount of water bills from different wings of the Corporation is concerned, it is an internal adjustment”.

Meanwhile, sources in the MC disclosed that the water connections of the defaulters of different wings of the MC have not been disconnected, till date.

Another official of the MC revealed that the total amount pending against private (domestic as well as commercial) consumers being charged on average basis is Rs 4.52 crore. Most of these defaulters’ dues amount to above Rs 10,000 each.

The total number of metered connections in Chandigarh is 91,049. Apart from this, water is being supplied without metered connections to at least 25,180 consumers. A lumpsum amount is charged from them in lieu of consumption of water.


Sector 38 boy was killed on day of kidnapping
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 5
It took the Chandigarh Police over 12 hours to just tell the anxious father of the 12-year-old Anurag that his child had been brutally murdered after being kidnapped on April 29. The truth that the Sector 38 boy had been killed on the day of kidnapping was admitted by the two kidnappers, Narinder Sharma and Sonu Nagar, both residents of Dadu Majra Colony, who were interrogated by the police last evening.

The father of the victim, Dilip Singh, who remained with the police officials till the time facts of the case came to light, was asked to go home. He came to know from newspaper reports — not from police — that his son had been killed. Revealing facts of the police investigations, a police official said Anurag, after being kidnapped, was murdered at about 8 pm near a bridge in Thankusu village (Rajpura) on April 29. The body was noticed by some passerby who informed the police at around 9 pm. The body of the deceased bore stab wounds on neck.

When the father of the victim went to Rajpura to know about the fate of the body of his son, he was told that the mortal remains of Anurag had been consigned to the flames as the deceased could not be identified till then. The picture of the deceased body had been given in some newspapers on May 1.

A police official said the kidnappers during their interrogation confessed that they had done Anurag to death as they had no place to detain him. Even after the death of the boy, the kidnappers kept his father in the dark to extort money from him. Two months before being kidnapped, the assailants had started befriending Anurag. On the day of being kidnapped, he was taken to play video games and was then taken on a red-coloured motorcycle. The DSP (South), Mr SS Randhawa, said a DDR about the missing boy was lodged on April 30. On May 3 the father of the deceased reported that a demand of Rs 5 lakh was made on telephone at his shop. The kidnappers had threatened to eliminate their hostage if the ransom amount was not paid.

The police registered a case of kidnapping on May 3. On May 3 the kidnapper called up Dalip to bring the money at Kurali. A trap was laid by police but without any success. Again on May 4 the kidnappers changed the venue to collect money to a spot near the Dhanas-Mullanpur road. After a trap was laid, the assailants were arrested near Mullanpur-Chandigarh border. The operation was led by a joint police party comprising Sector 39 police station and crime branch. The calls made by the kidnappers originated from STD booths.

The police claimed that they had kidnapped Anurag for ransom. The police officials said a case of murder had been registered at Rajpura sadar police station .

The family of Anurag demands CBI probe into the murder of their ward.

Expressing dissatisfaction over the investigations by the Chandigarh Police in the case of murder for ransom of his son, Dalip Singh, said he suspected that there was a third person behind the murder. “How can the kidnappers kill my son a few hours after kidnapping him?

They might have been paid by someone to kill my son. Their demanding ransom even after killing my son raises doubts about the police theory”, questioned Dalip Singh.

He said the police registered a case of kidnapping on May 3, four days after the police was told about the telephone call made by the kidnapper at his Maloya shop. 


Sanjay, Gaurav engineered kidnapping
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 5
Three cousins and their friend get together and plan to make quick money. A kidnapping is planned and executed successfully. Their victim is released only when his family pays Rs 1 crore. But their dreams came crashing down.

Sanjay Nai, who was arrested by the CIA staff last night, today said Gaurav Bhalla and he masterminded the kidnapping of Sachin. He was produced before a local court and remanded in police custody till May 10.

Talking to mediapersons, he said since Gaurav was close to his maternal cousin, Gaurav Mani, and paternal cousin, Munish Bhalla, the duo were included in the execution of the plan. He said both they and their families were in debt and were looking for quick money to clear their dues and begin life afresh.

In fact, says the police, the two Gaurav and Sanjay, had immaculately planned each and every minute detail of the kidnapping. Since Gaurav had befriended a close relative of Sachin Garg he got all details of Sachin’s daily routine. He was aware of the financial status of the Gargs and was sure that they could make a handsome money by executing the plan.

Sanjay said they both had planned the kidnapping for over a month. They had worked out on where to kidnap Sachin, where to keep him, the use of mobile phones and disposing of the SIM cards after the execution of the kidnapping. The duo had bought an air gun from Sector 22, Chandigarh, which they had used to threaten Sachin at the time of his kidnapping.

He said they had done a reconnaissance of the route taken by Sachin on his way home from his table tennis practice each evening. After they worked out on where to kidnap him, they included Munish and Gaurav Mani. Munish’s car was used in the kidnapping and Sachin was kept at the house of a Munish’s friend, as it was vacant.

The police says Sanjay has multi- lingual abilities. From Punjabi to Bengali and “Bombaiya” to Bihari, he can speak any of these dialects with perfection. “He had threatened the Gargs in a perfect Mumbai gangster’s voice, which ensured that the Gargs got scared and agreed to pay the ransom,” said a senior police official.

So far, the police has recovered Rs 80 lakh from the accused, while a sum of Rs 20 lakh has been used by the accused to pay off their/family’s debts and buy goodies — stylish motorbikes, mobile phones, gold chains etc.


3-day police remand for Bawa
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 5
Amarjit Bawa, President of the Himachal unit of the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), who was arrested from Simla in a case of wrongful restrain criminal intimidation and assault, was today remanded to police custody for three days.

Bawa was produced before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mr H.S. Dahiya, amidst tight security at the district courts complex. A large number of his supporters were present at the district courts when he was produced here at about 11 am. The police had made adequate security arrangements to avoid any untoward incident.

Defence counsel, seeking the grant of bail, argued that Bawa was a victim of a larger political conspiracy. Counsel said that this case, registered against him by the Pinjore police, was malicious. Bawa had come to attend the bhog ceremony of his elder brother, Kanwarjeet Singh, and could not have left the rituals to go after the complainant and attack him.

They submitted that Bawa was named as accused in only seven FIRs registered at the Pinjore and Kalka police stations. The police had deliberately included his name in other FIRs registered against his family. Counsel for defence also argued that the police had tortured Bawa’s son, Ramandeep alias Shammi and nephew, Sukha, who were arrested earlier. Counsel said they feared a similar fate for Bawa, and pleaded for the grant of bail.

On the other hand, the public prosecutor argued that police remand was needed in order to recover the car which was used by Bawa, his son, Ramandeep, and nephew, Sukha, to follow the complainant, M.K. Shishodiya, and his son on April 27. All these accused had later assaulted and threatened Shishodiya with dire consequences and then went away in this car. The public prosecutor said that this car had a Chandigarh registration number and was now in Kulu. He argued that the police would have to take accused Amarjit to Kulu in order to recover this car.

The CJM directed the police to get Bawa’s medical examination done before he was taken to the police station. He also allowed Bawa’s lawyer to be present at Pinjore police station at the time of Bawa’s interrogation.

Bawa, was later produced before the court of SDM, Kalka, in order to initiate “bound down” proceedings, for restraining Bawa against committing any further offence under Section 110 of CrPC. He was asked by the SDM to furnish a bail bond of Rs 1 lakh and the next date of hearing in this case was fixed for May 15.

Meanwhile, the district police today said that the Himachal police had set up at least 70 police barricades on the entire route from Simla to Pinjore. Thus, the police party led by Sub-Inspector Amar Singh, had to take a detour of over 100 km via Kanhatti and Garkhal to reach Pinjore. It may be noted that the police had earlier made an unsuccessful attempt to arrest Amarjit Bawa from Simla in a separate case on April 4. While the police party was getting Amarjit from Simla, they were stalled by a Himachal police party at Dharampur on the Panchkula-Himachal border and the accused was freed.

The local police say that Bawa is operating a land mafia and extortion racket in Pinjore and Kalka in Haryana and Parwanoo, Barotiwala and Dharampur in Himachal Pradesh. This gang, headed by the three Bawa brothers, Kanwarjit, Jagjeet and Amarjit, and their sons, is involved in over 70 cases of assault, criminal intimidation and rioting. They are also involved in gaining control of transport unions and at present have control over eight such unions, said Superintendent of Police, Mr Ranbir Singh Sharma. He said that as many as 70 henchmen had been employed by the gang to carry on their clandestine operations.


Admn says it will not pay power bill arrears to BBMB
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 5
Claiming to have petitioned for partner status in power projects of the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) the Chandigarh Administration will not be paying any arrears to the BBMB on account power or pay any higher rate for the power it consumes.

According to sources the same has been officially communicated to the BBMB. The UT Finance Secretary, Mr Karan Avtar Singh, when asked about the stance of Chandigarh said, “We have a very valid demand for seeking partner status in BBMB projects and so far the Government of India has neither rejected the demand nor accepted it so the matter is still undecided.”

Once the matter is officially decided either way the Administration will think of its next course of action, the Finance Secretary concluded. The issue of arrears between the BBMB and Chandigarh Administration has been a long standing one as the BBMB has been demanding Rs 30 crore as arrears. The Administration has been stonewalling the issue claiming to be partner in BBMB projects as a natural outcome of the Re-organisation of States Act, 1966, when Punjab was trifurcated to form Haryana and Himachal Pradesh besides formation of Chandigarh as a Union Territory.

The sources explained that Haryana had got partner status while Himachal Pradesh enjoyed its share of free power and also other benefits. But Chandigarh got nothing. With little political backing there was no one to plead the case of Chandigarh. Politically also if the city gets partner status it does not suit Punjab as it will project a separate identity for the UT over which Punjab has claims as its Capital. 


UK cops on Mohali youth’s trail
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, May 5
A team of the Hampshire Police is scheduled to visit the township in connection with the murder of a 17-year-old student, Hannah Foster, who was killed in the UK allegedly by Mahinder Pal Singh Kohli, a resident of SAS Nagar. Some British journalists are also here to cover the visit.

According to the police, the three-member British Police team, which was expected to reach here today, has not arrived yet. Mr Dinkar Gupta, DIG (CI), told Chandigarh Tribune that the team was still caught up with the procedures be followed in case of an international police team visiting a country for catching a criminal wanted in their country.

He said when the British police officials reached here, the district police officials would accompany them to wherever they wanted to go. However, according to SAS Nagar police officials, they have no intimation about the Scotland Yard sending its team here.

Maninder Pal Singh, whose parents live in a house in Phase X here, is wanted by the Scotland Yard for the alleged rape and murder of a student in Southhampton. According to sources, Maninder Pal had come to India to see his ailing mother on March 19 this year, but according to his family he had left for England on March 29 following a telephone call from his wife in the UK. The British Police, however, has reasons to believe that Maninder Pal is still in India. Sources in the local intelligence are also working on a similar theory.

Meanwhile, the Phase X residence of Maninder Pal has become a much frequented spot since yesterday with the news spreading that a British team will be visiting his parents here. Maninder Pal Singh’s mother is said to be in a serious condition. She was admitted to the PGI some days ago. Now she is said to be in coma.


Kharar’s only college in dire straits
Kanya Vidyalaya, too, embroiled in controversy
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Kharar, May 5
While the very existence of Kharar’s only college, Arya College for Women, is stated to be in danger, the township’s oldest girls’ high school, the college’s sister establishment, is also in dire straits. Both institutes are running from the same premises.

Set up in 1969, the college cannot be granted affiliation by the university for running degree courses as it does not possess the minimum area stipulated in university regulations. Consequently, students studying in this college have to appear as private candidates in university examinations.

University rules stipulate that a college must possess at least five acres land if it is to get affiliation. The college, however, continues to function from the first floor of the school building even 34 years after it was set up as it does not have the money required to procure land.

“Since we cannot get university affiliation, we are not entitled to grants-in-aid from the government,” Mrs Veena Mahajan, Principal, said. “This has resulted in the college facing severe financial problems,” she added.

With grants-in-aid out of question and no other source of income, the college has to depend on the fees paid by students to meet its expenditure. This, of course, is not enough. “Our teachers meet the university’s norms for appointment, but are grossly underpaid as funds are not adequate,” Mrs Mahajan said.

Apart from the fees, some financial help is being rendered by two NRIs hailing from this township. The college received Rs 7 lakh from a UK-based NRI some time ago, which was used to set up a computer laboratory. Another NRI residing in the USA donates money to the college and poor students, which amounts to about Rs 10,000 a month.

The number of students in the college has come down over the past three years from about 700 to about 500. One reason is that students find the Government College for Girls in Sector 42, Chandigarh, a better option as it is just about 15 km away and there is a regular to and fro bus service.

Arya Kanya Vidyalaya, meanwhile, is facing problems of a different kind. While it is getting grants-in-aid from the government, members of its managing body have been embroiled in an internal dispute over the past two years and the matter is pending before the court.

As a result, the funds available with the management have been sealed and hence the management’s requisite financial contribution to the school funds has not been forthcoming. Payment of salaries to the staff often gets delayed.

The school principal, Mrs Tara Jain, said that with a number of public schools setting up shop in Kharar, most of the students coming to the school are from backward areas and not in a position to pay high fees. “We are getting about 50-60 students less every year,” she said. “The management’s crisis and the financial position is affecting our reputation.” she added.


Drunk Home Guard volunteer ‘detained’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 5
Agitated residents who had gathered for a jagran in Sector 20, detained a “drunk” Home Guard volunteer on a Police Control Room (PCR) vehicle, who disrupted the function and asked the organisers to pack off in the wee hours of this morning.

The gathering allowed the drunk cop and his accomplice to leave the spot when a Sub Inspector from the Sector 19 Police Station, Mr Ved Pal Malik, assured them that medical examination of the home guard volunteer would be carried out and suitable action would be taken against him.

According to reports, Mr Sat Pal, a resident of Sector 20, had organised a jagran at a public place near his house. After the jagran began at around 10 pm, a police patrol vehicle came to the spot and the officers urged the organisers to reduce the volume. The organisers complied with the orders.

But at around 2.30 am, a PCR vehicle with Home Guard volunteer, Nasib, and another police official came to the spot and allegedly directed the organisers to pack up. When the Home Guard volunteer allegedly misbehaved with one of the members of jagran party, the organisers got furious.

A medical examination of the drunk volunteer and his accomplice was carried out at the Sector 16 General Hospital. 


Coverage of upper floors: reduction of fee sought
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 5
While welcoming the move to permit coverage on the upper floors of shops in older sectors, the Hotel Association Chandigarh said the heavy fees will act as a deterrent in this case and demanded reduction in fee for conversion.

The high fees, when calculated at Rs 500 per square foot, means the owner of the building will have to shell out a few lakhs if he desires to cover the open areas. The general secretary of the association, Mr Ashok Bansal, suggested that a maximum fee of Rs 100 per square foot be charged as composition fee for covering of courtyard and upper-area.

Also permission should be given for the submission of revised plan by a qualified architect for reference and records of the Estate Office thus saving the owner from getting a regular revised plan sanctioned.

Another important relaxation is required in allowing the replacement of frontal brick jali with glass-glazing to improve the view of the area.

The recent amendments in bylaws are incomplete and are hardly paying any dividends on account of mismatch in the amendments and the ground realities of the place, the association claimed while requesting the Administration to examine all suggestions on residential, commercial and industrial sites put forward by it in a representation (dated September 17, 2002) to have a real meaningful, practical effect.


Wildlife Act to be made more stringent
A.S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 5
Owners of wildlife trophies, passionate hunters, keepers of private zoos, owners of unusual pets which may generally fall in the category of wildlife animals and even madaris beware. The government of India is planning to make certain policy changes and make the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act more stringent.

“We are giving a six-month notice to all such people to file declarations with regard to the wildlife animals, trophies and skins in their possession with the department in order to escape imposition of fine and punishment under the provisions of the act”, said Mr M.K. Sharma, Director-General of Forests and Special Secretary to Government of India, Ministry of Environment and Forests, here today.

In an interview with TNS, he said this would be their last chance to come clean on this issue. The government was determined to plug all loopholes in the Wildlife Protection Act so as to discourage decimation of the country’s wildlife wealth in the forests.

Mr Sharma said provisions for punishment of violations of the Act did exist, but they were comparatively mild. “In the changed economic scenario, they have lost their relevance. Hence the move for more stringent provisions”. He said the officials of the department would verify the declarations filed by individuals, wherever necessary. “It is not that we are going to accept whatever is declared in the declaration forms. The department will confiscate trophies and wild animals not accounted for properly by their owners.” Mr Sharma, however, indicated that the department would not be harsh with the madaris. “After all, they are poor people and are trying to earn a livelihood by raising animals in captivity”.

Mr Sharma said that the proposal for interlinking of rivers in the country would have a “colossal impact” on the environment. The Government of India was already seized of the matter while his department had constituted a five-member committee to examine all the implications of the proposal. He pointed out that the inter-linking of rivers would involve large-scale construction work which would result in the destruction of forests and damage to the environment. His ministry was keen to ensure that the inter-linking of rivers should lead to expansion instead of contraction of the forest cover.

As regards the forest cover in the country, Mr Sharma said that the cover which had been steadily shrinking over the years was now showing an upward trend. Against the national target of 33 per cent forest cover, forest cover at present stood at just 20.55 per cent of its geographical area. However, the government hoped to expand it further in the coming years. Of this, dense forest constitutes 12.68 per cent and open forest 7.87 per cent. Madhya Pradesh had the maximum forest cover among all the states and union territories followed by Arunachal Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

In Haryana, forest cover had increased from 515 sq km in 1987 to 964 sq km in 1999. In Himachal Pradesh, the forest cover has increased from 12, 480 sq km in 1987 to 13, 082 sq km in 1999. In Punjab, the forest cover has increase from 943 sq km to 1, 412 sq km and in Chandigarh it had risen from 2 sq km to 7 sq km during the same period.


Forests Ministry building opens
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 5
Mr M. K. Sharma, Director-General of Forests and Special Secretary, Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, today formally inaugurated the regional office building of the ministry .

The four-storey building covers an area of 241.50 square meters and has been constructed by the Central Public Works Department at a cost of Rs 1.27 crore.

Mr Sharma said he was very happy to be in the city where, unlike most other towns of India, people cared for the trees. The importance of forests had been realised in recent years and the government was laying more and more emphasis on preservation and protection of environment.

Mr Virendra Singh, Adviser to the Administration , was among those who spoke.


Take fire safety steps, cinema owners told
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 5
Taking note of the compensation awarded to the Uphaar Cinema tragedy victims in Delhi, the Municipal Corporation here today asked the cinema hall owners to improve the fire-fighting facilities within a month.

The direction for the improvement of fire-fighting facilities in cinema halls was given at a meeting of the Fire Services Committee where cinema owners were called by the committee.

The cinema hall owners were told to take the advice of the Fire Department for improving their facilities within a month.

The meeting, held under the chairpersonship of Ms Pushpa Sharma, was also attended by Mayor Subhash Chawla who said, “After the expiry of the period, the Fire Department will take stringent measures against those who fail to meet the fire safety standards.”

The committee also decided to go in for the latest technology and equipment available to improve the fire-fighting capabilities of the department.

A need for improving the training of the staff was also felt in the meeting. The committee also recommended to allow the Chief Fire Officer to spend Rs 10,000 for the maintenance of vehicles as against Rs 5,000 permitted under an old arrangement.


Uphaar tragedy no lesson for city cinemas
Monica Sharma

Chandigarh, May 5
Nearly five years ago cine-goers enjoying a Bollywood blockbuster in Delhi were caught unawares as the cinema went up in flames. Soon after the incident, safety measures were taken. Some concrete, some on papers. Cinemas in other cities also took steps to prevent such incidents in future.

In Chandigarh, too, measures were taken, but enough was not done — at least this is what was revealed in a survey conducted by Chandigarh Tribune after the Delhi High Court ordered the payment of Rs 21 crore as compensation to the Uphaar cinema tragedy victims.

The survey revealed a number of irregularities, including improper entry and exit points, ‘fortification’ of halls, absence of emergency lights and placement of extra chairs in the passageway.

If you also wish to witness it all, just drive down to a cinema in the city. As soon as you park your vehicle in the parking lot, you realise that the openings in the iron grills at the entry and exit points create bottlenecks. The problem is worsened by the fact that the ‘gates’ are locked from inside during show time, making it impossible for spectators to move out in case of fire.

The ‘fortification’ around cinemas also leads to wastage of time. It usually takes 10 to 20 minutes for the cine-goers to move out after the show is over. Obviously, the possibility of a stampede in case of a fire cannot be ruled out.

This is not all, placement of extra chairs for adjusting more spectators causes ‘obstruction in the free movement of viewers. Absence of emergency lights in staircases makes the matter worse.

Interestingly, last year in June, a legal notice was issued in this regard to the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh and other authorities by the Chandigarh Parents’ Association. The chairman of the association, Mr Bhim Sen Sehgal, had alleged in the notice that cinema authorities were indifferent towards the maintenance of firefighting apparatus. Soon after receiving the notice, action was initiated by authorities, but little was actually done to rectify the structural irregularities.

The Chief Fire Officer, Mr G.S. Bajwa, admitted that the staff was ignorant about the methods of using the equipment, but claimed the cinemas were well-equipped with fire-fighting gadgets.

“The old equipment has been replaced,” he claimed. “Moreover, the staff has been thoroughly trained.


Disrespect’ to Shiva idol
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, May 5
High drama ensued at the Phase IX Shiva temple here today with some members of the temple management committee alleging that the controlling group of the management had ‘‘disrespected the Shiva idol’’which had been reportedly replaced by a new one recently in the mandir.

While members of one group stated that the old idol was missing and was replaced by the new one without following proper rites, the members of the controlling group insisted that the idol was replaced according to the rites.

The police was called after which the local SP, Mr Harcharan Singh Bhullar, deputed the DSP, Mr Daljit Rana, who along with the SDM, Mr M.L. Sharma, reached the spot to resolve the situation. The old idol was located in one of the rooms of the temple and it was decided that the idol be immersed following proper rites and the new idol be placed again.


Parrot Garden to have lighted tracks
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 6
Morning and evening walkers in Parrot Garden in Sector 21-A and B will from tomorrow find their tracks lighted with a new arrangement being introduced in the garden. Mayor Subhash Chawla today inaugurated the lighting arrangement.

The Municipal Corporation has installed 35 energy efficient CFL Bullard fittings of Philips make at a cost of Rs 2.25 lakh.

The corporation has incurred an expenditure of Rs 3.5 lakh for laying the footpaths in the garden.

While addressing the gathering, Mr Chawla listed the works undertaken by the corporation in the sector. Nominated councillor P.C. Sanghi and officers of the corporation were present at the function.


Water supply scheme inaugurated
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, May 5
The Punjab Vidhan Sabha Deputy Speaker, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, has appealed to villagers to constitute panchayats unanimously in their villages in the ensuing panchayat elections. He advised them to select development oriented educated members to the panchayats. The Deputy Speaker made this appeal at a function organised to honour him at Kambala village here today.

He assured the people of the area that he would ensure the development of the Kharar constituency without any discrimination as people of the constituency had expressed their full confidence in him by electing him as member of the Vidhan Sabha.

He said SAS Nagar would be developed on the pattern of a district city and a special meeting had been convened on May 7 for the future plan of the town. He also informed that PUDA had allotted a plot of two acres for the construction of a modern veterinary hospital in SAS Nagar for the better care of animals.

Earlier, Mr Bir Devinder Singh inaugurated a rural water works supply scheme for Kambala and Kambali villages costing Rs 20 lakh.

It will serve the need for drinking water to more than 2000 residents of the villages. He stated that the Punjab government had sanctioned seven more water works in Kharar for which funds worth Rs 1.35 crore had been allocated to the department.


Office records gutted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 5
Documents and wood fittings worth Rs 1.5 lakh in the office of the Director of Haryana Fisheries in Mani Majra were today reduced to ashes and two persons were trapped when the building housing the office caught fire due to a suspected short circuit.

Four fire tenders and a douser was pressed into service to control the fire and evacuate the trapped persons in the SCO No. 817 in Mani Majra.

The office housed on the first floor was engulfed in the fire when fire fighters reached the spot and two persons were told to be trapped, an officer on the duty said.

The immediate task of the team was to locate the trapped persons and evacuate Mr Kheri Lal and Mr Surjeet Singh.

The officers on the spot put up ladders to reach the trapped and evacuated them unhurt.

But during the process around 70 per cent of the office records of the department were destroyed along with the plywood partitions.

Panic had gripped the nearby SCOs when the fire leapt up to the second floor.

The fire tenders were successful in controlling the fire to reach the second floor of the SCO.

The fire is suspected to have been caused by loose wires which were also damaged. The fire fighting operation lasted for half an hour.


VCD case: Dr Bali to file defamation suit
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, May 5
Adding a twist to the controversy, the Additional Professor of Cardiology, Dr H.K. Bali, said today that he would soon be filing a defamation suit in the famous VCD case. He also sought a probe into the entire episode by an independent agency. Describing the allegations as false, Dr Bali claimed that he had already met the Union Health Minister, Ms Sushma Swaraj, for ordering a police inquiry into the matter.

Dr Bali, it may be recalled, had sent a letter addressed to the minister after the PGI failed to respond to his request for ordering a police inquiry into the allegations levelled against him by Ms Jaswinder Kaur, daughter of a patient from Ambala, who was operated upon at the PGI. Dr Bali had stated in the letter that he had informally come to know that the Vigilance cell at the PGI had clinching evidence that a conspiracy was hatched by Dr Pawan Sharma, wife of Dr Anil Grover, Head of Cardiology Department, to defame him.


Van, not ambulance, DPRO clarifies
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, May 5
Reacting to a news item in Chandigarh Tribune about a scooter being ferried in an ambulance, Moga’s District Public Relations Officer today clarified that “the van in question was not an ambulance”.

In a fax message, the officer claimed that the vehicle was a mobile dental van scheduled to be donated to the Moga Red Cross on May 8 at a public function.

He added that the vehicle was till now with Moga’s NRI Sabha.

The office-bearers had brought it to Chandigarh for extra fittings necessary for a mobile dental van. No official of the Moga Red Cross was involved in anything, including ferrying the scooter.

He also denied that the allegation that a son of any Moga Red Cross official was studying at Chandigarh.

The news item, he concluded, had brought a bad name to the Moga Red Cross which was doing excellent work for the betterment of the poor and needy.


Boy missing
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 5
A 22-year-old boy of Saragpur village has been missing since April 29. According to information, the boy, Kiranjit Singh, a student in Government College in Phase 6, SAS Nagar, had gone out, but did not return. A DDR has been lodged at Police Post, Dhanas.


Defence veterans hold medical camp

Pritam BhullarTO commemorate the martyrdom of Sahibzada Ajit Singh and Sahibzada Zorawar Singh, the two elder sons of Guru Gobind Singh, a medical camp was organised at Gurdwara Chamkaur Sahib by the Defence Veterans’ Polyclinic, SAS Nagar, and the Health Care India, Chandigarh, on April 25.

A team of 20 doctors, medical technologists and social workers, led by Dr (Brig) M.L. Kataria, and including renowned specialists, Dr Tej Paul Singh Chawala, Col J.S. Pall, Varinderjit Kaur, Damanjit Kaur and others, examined 500 patients. More than 250 lab tests and over 100 ECGs of patients were carried out. Besides, a mobile dental care unit treated more than 100 dental patients. Free medicines were given to all patients. Among those who attended the medical camp were a large number of ex-servicemen and their families.

Impressed by the medicare provided at the camp, the gathering donated thousands of rupees and five ceiling fans for the Veterans’ Polyclinic, SAS Nagar. Gurdwara Kalgidhar Sahib, Phase IV, SAS Nagar, donated medicines worth more than Rs 7,000 for the camp.

Those who organised this camp included Col Angad Singh, Col M.S. Cheema, Col J.S. Aujla, Sqn Ldr Onkar Singh, Flying Officer Feroz Singha (all retd), Chaudry Basta Singh and the gurdwara management committee.

The Defence Veterans’ Polyclinic and Health Care India are planning to hold several such camps in the remote rural areas in future.

Refixing of seniority

Many apprehensions have been raised about cutting the seniority of about 1500 Army officers who passed out from the Indian Military Academy (IMA) in the year 2000. These officers are from the two courses for which the training period was slashed by six months to tide over the shortage of officers after the Kargil conflict.

Since the training period was shortened by six months, this period has been deducted from their commissioned service for seniority to bring them on par with officers who undergo training at the IMA for a full period i.e. one year for the NDA cadets and one and a half years for the direct entry cadets. However, for their pay and allowances, retirement and pension, their full service from the date of commission is counted.

Is this decision wrong? The answer is no. This system has always been followed in the past. Take the example of temporary commissioned officers who passed out from the Officers Training School (OTS), Pune, in the late 1940s after doing six months training because of the Indo-Pak war of 1947. On the grant of permanent commission (PC) to those of them who were found fit for it, their seniority was cut by one and a half years because at that time the duration of training at the IMA was two years. The same yard stick is applied to the Short Service Commissioned Officers on the grant of PC to them. This rule is applied to all the officers whose period of training is reduced.

The only fault that one can find with the Army Headquarters is that they did not re-fix the seniority of these officer earlier.

Unconcern for casualties

“We are in the process of ‘slowly’ rolling back house of darkness. Most of the terrorists’ activity takes place at night. Technology, which was a bit of a lag, is being seriously addressed”, said Lieut-Gen Kapil Vij, Director-General of Rashtriya Rifles (RR) at New Delhi, on April 27.

The low intensity conflict (LIC) waged by Pakistan since 1989 has taken a toll of about 5,000 security personnel and few body bags come from J and K every week. Why are we getting our soldiers killed everyday without any gain to the country is the question that remains unanswered by the government.

The equipment such as hand-held thermal images, night vision devices, sensors, improved communication system and jammers to prevent remote-controlled detonation of improvised-explosive devices that we have thought of acquiring “slowly” now, should have been acquired at least a decade ago. Along with this equipment, we should also acquire night sites for the RR weaponry to kill the terrorist once he is detected, rather than putting this equipment in the “later stage” of our procurement.

It seems that the defence gets the last priority in India. This is because of the unconcern of our government towards soldiers’ casualties.


Basanti Devi temple a tribute to Sheetala Mata
Chitleen K Sethi

An English military officer depicted on the temple wall
An English military officer depicted on the temple wall. — Photos Pankaj Sharma

COLONIAL times were troubled times for the people of India. The economy was doing poorly. There were no industries to speak of. Agriculture was as heavily taxed as alcohol and tobacco are nowadays. Facilities for education and health care were so sparsely spread on the ground as to be non-existent. This was especially true for the poorer rural regions such as the area that is currently occupied by Chandigarh. By the end of the 19th century, the Rajput village of Kailar, with its population of 500, was visited by afflictions of a deadly variety.

The primary settlement of Kailar was on the mound on which the present-day Indira Holiday Home is located. The houses of Rajput and Jat farmers were spread north of this mound. The lower castes occupied the lesser land at the south-west. Just below the mound, towards the north where the present road dividing Sectors 24 and 15 was the village gurdwara. West of the mound was a Shiv temple, which still exists at the same place. The gurdwara was relocated to Sector 15-C to give way to the road. Nearby there was the village pond and a couple of public wells for use by the various castes of the village.

A Rani pointing a weapon at the Raja
A Rani pointing a weapon at the Raja. — Photo Pankaj Sharma

A settlement at Kailar had existed for over 3,500 years. But it was at the turn of the century that deadly diseases came to engulf it. Again and again the people fell ill with various diseeses that would not go away. Even abandoning the main settlement and living in the low-lying lands around the mound did not help. In such circumstances, all over the world, in the most secular of societies as also the most superstitious, diseases and afflictions of the body spawn a religion of their own. Usually this religion focuses on a deity, which specialises in the amelioration of specific kinds of indispositions. In India one of the most powerful of such deities has been the Sheetala Mata. She particularly helps people troubled by the deadly small pox and its lesser cousins, chicken pox and measles. Said to be a form of the Devi, the mother-goddess who is worshipped in many other forms throughout the sub-continent, she is all-powerful where the deadly small pox is concerned. Rids the body of the disease and cleanses the entire localities of the deadly virus. The story goes that one village virgin, struck by the pox, advised the village elders to construct a temple of Sheetala Mata to ensure the return of good health. The deity was established in 1902 and soon the diseases vanished.

Guru Nanak Devji with his deciples on the temple wall
Guru Nanak Devji with his deciples on the temple wall. — Photo Pankaj Sharma

The temple came to be called the Basanti Devi temple. According to one version of oral history, the name of that virgin was Basanti. Hence the name of the temple. Another version says that the name derives from the day on which the Devi’s idol had been installed. The villagers might have lived happily ever after under the benign protection of Basanti Devi had not the Government of India intervened with the Chandigarh project. The construction of the new town displaced them, filled up their pond and wells and destroyed their gurdwara. Fortunately, the Basanti Devi temple still stands, tucked in a fold between the house of a Judge, the local Senior Superintendent of Police and Strawberry Fields. The old villagers still swear by the power of the goddess and visit her regularly. The majority of her followers now are the new residents of Chandigarh, some of whom live on the land of the erstwhile Kailar village.

The temple is small. But its wall paintings suggest the playful mood of the artists making them. Having made a series of paintings on Krishna frolicking with his gopis and Guru Nanak sitting with his disciples, the artist revokes his sombre mood to create some secular depictions. So there is one wall painting showing an English military officer, sitting on an Edwardian chair, moustache twirled, smoking a crude pipe, surrounded by his orderly and armed soldiers. Another painting has a local raja sitting with his rani. The rani aims a pistol at the raja, for which misdemeanour, we shall never know.


Stop ploughing near catchment area of lake

Manual efforts to de-silt the Sukhna lake (shramdaan) is a gimmick and a waste of time, energy and manpower. The answer is mechanical de-silting during summer months. An increase in the height of the dam wall will give temporary increase in volume of water, but this portion will also get silted after a few years.

Another step is to take preventive steps. No ploughing of land should be permitted to farmers in the entire catchment area of the lake. Thus, there will be no loose soil during the rainy season to flow along with the water and add to the sedimentation. The catchment area should have more green cover with additional plantation of grass. All tributaries feeding the lake should have check dams.

S.S. Virdi
Ex-Chairman, Institution of Engineers, Punjab, Haryana and
Chandigarh centre


Combat helmet and head protection

IN TV coverage of the recent Iraq war, at one place a British soldier was shown as all smiles after he survived the full impact of a burst of enemy fire (3 to 4 rounds) on his head. His bullet-proof steel helmet had saved his life. It appeared that the bullets had punctured holes only in the outer camouflage material of the helmet. The BBC clip also showed the soldier’s family back home rejoicing on learning about his providential escape.

It reminds me of a similar incident that we had in 1971 in the Chhamb sector. It so happened that in an exchange of fire with Pak troops, one of our jawans who was manning a forward LMG post, was similarly hit in the head. The medical officer was rushed there but nothing could save the jawan’s life. The enemy bullet which came through the bunker loophole, pierced through jawan’s steel helmet, went through his head and had gone out, penetrating the combat helmet once again on the other side. Such cases may be few, but these have a palpable effect on the morale.

One wonders if our jawan is equipped with a quality combat helmet today since that would give him a better chance for survival and success in his almost daily encounters with insurgents and during the war in general.

Lt Col Lakhbir Singh (retd)

Civilians with firearms

On May 5, 2003, at about 11.30 am I went to State Bank of India, Sector 17B, Chandigarh, for a transaction. At the entrance, I noticed two civilians holding firearms (probably AK 47 assault rifles). After coming out of the bank, I rang up 100 phone number, as I am aware that there is a notification in Chandigarh that civilians or even police personnel without uniform cannot carry any weapons with them. Within five minutes, SI Sucha Singh along with a constable arrived at the scene on their motor cycle. I approached the Sub Inspector and took him to the two civilians. The SI questioned the identity of these persons carrying firearms. They disclosed their identity as under:

1. Mr Shiv Narayan Yadav, NSG Commando No 93106822.

2. Mr Rabin Dass NSG Commando No 941341086.

Both these commandos disclosed that they were at the bank as their boss, some SP in the NSG posted at Kisan Bhavan, Chandigarh, had come to collect his salary and they were simply accompanying their boss to the bank. In the meantime, their SP also arrived on the scene. The Sub Inspector asked his identity. He disclosed that he was JP Bhilai, TF Commander, Chandigarh, NSG, having office at Kisan Bhavan, and that these two bodyguards were attached with him. The Sub Inspector apprised the SP that since his guards were without uniform, someone from the public had informed the police, and that was why he was there to check. The SI asked the SP to be vigilant in future as the guards should wear uniform while carrying firearms. Thereafter, both the guards and the SP went away in their official vehicle. I asked the Sub Inspector what next! He replied that he had verified the antecedents of the guards and no action could now be taken. He informed the headquarters also on the wireless set that these persons were being let off.

In view of the above incident, should a resident question the Chandigarh Police how they claim, “we care for you” when, in fact, the residents are caring for them in their day-to-day duties? It is an open fact that most of the police personnel are violating laws of the land in different ways, besides causing road accidents, picking up quarrels with residents and creating nuisance at public places.

Jagdish Singh Sarpal

Arrogant elected representatives

The absolute power, which elected “maharajas” enjoy, is built in our polity’s culture. A large number of public-cause orientated people are known to have written to the Chief Minister for appointment and for necessary action on the wails and woes of helpless people, but no one pays any heed. It is likely that either the secretarial staff of “these majesties” are inefficient or indifferent in bringing to the notice of the “mighty bosses” about the public representations. It is certain that nature will take the retributive action. Let these ‘emperors’ be aware of it. These political bosses are well aware of the helplessness of common people. After all, what can these affected people do to make their elected representatives listen to them, let alone doing anything to lesson their pain? The only set of people who can make them bend to lend their attention are either organised associations which, with strikes, can bring a halt to the economic wheels, or those who can create trouble for them through violent means.

I really wonder if the media power can make these arrogant people mend their ways like it happens in countries with accountable and matured democratic political system. God can only save the poor countrymen from the harshness of modern ‘nawabs’!

Air Marshal (retd) P.K. Jain

True meaning of Tribune

The contact programme by The Tribune at Kharar recently has really spurred me to write the true meaning of Tribune, and for what it stands for its readers.

T — Truthful (reporting)

R — Responsible (watchdog of society)

I — Increasingly (highlights lack of civic amenities)

B — Broadens (the horizon of its readers)

U — Unique (in concept and layout)

N — Noteworthy (contribution in removal of social ills)

E — Excellent (journalism its trend)

J.S. Puri

Destroy beehives at lake

The incident of bee attack on Sukhna strollers reported in The Tribune dated April 29 is a painstaking news. It is ironical that a place which is supposed to be safe and peaceful is proving to be a trouble spot with bees attack and stray dogs moving freely in the vicinity. Earlier, a few years back, bees attacked a crowd of young boys and girls gathered at Sukhna Lake to watch shooting of BR Chopra's film ‘Karm’. The concerned department of UT must direct its staff to locate the present beehives at the lake and destroy these immediately in the general interest of strollers and visitors thronging the lake in large numbers during summer days.

J.S. Puri

Rent Act and senior citizens

As a sequel to the amendment of the Rent Restriction Act in the Union Territory, Chandigarh, the landlords who were fighting the ejectment cases had to withdraw those cases and go for ejectment under the Transfer of Property Act. Such cases had dragged for years due to delaying tactics of tenants. Again now the cases have started from scratch and the game of delaying tactics shall start simultaneously for the tenants.

The greatest sufferers in this notorious exercise in the courts are senior citizens who, if once again trapped by the usual delaying tactics, may not see the 'fruit' within their life span. Therefore, it is suggested that the cases of senior citizens may be brought under summary trial and courts may be vigilant against ‘delaying and prolonging efforts’. The tenant may be made to choose between ejectment and market rent on the first date. The market rent can be worked on the basis of consumer price index for urban non-manual employees. That will be serving as the logical minimum relief to the elders of society.

Sapandeep Sharma

‘Cleaning up’ operation a must

This refers to a report "Privatisation in through backdoor", Chandigarh Tribune, April 30. The main problem in the city is cleanliness. The Municipal Corporation has taken a good decision and constituted an all-party committee to review all sanitation-related matters in the city.

The Municipal Corporation had taken a decision in the month of February and shifted the dustbins on March 3 from various places in sector 19-C and placed two dustbins near the Government Model Secondary School, Sector 19-C. The decision was welcomed. It was hoped that there must be some improvement. Alas, nothing happened positive.

Now the garbage is open in the ground at every corner. Cows eat polythene packets and remain in painful condition for months. Many dogs are also found near the dustbins. The MC must check and improve the area. It gives a bad smell and will create diseases in the rainy season. The councillor of the area is not taking interest for improvement.

Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, MP, who is sincere towards his constituency, has provided funds for various schemes under the MP area development schemes. I would request Mr Bansal to start some projects to improve the overall environment of the city.

M.L. Garg


Neighbour attacks woman with knife
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 5
A 45-year-old woman, Manjeet Kaur, was hit several times by a neighbour on her face with a knife in Sector 29 here this evening. She was rushed to the Government Medical College and Hospital in Sector 32.

The woman was alone at home when the assailant, Harjeet, who is a friend of one of the three sons of the victim, came to her house to make a telephone call. The unsuspecting woman left for another room. When he attacked her, she tried to rush out of the house but was dragged back. In the second attempt, she, however, managed to run out. The youth, who is said to be a drug addict, locked himself in the house.

A case of attempt to murder has been registered at the Industrial Area police station. The woman was said to be out of danger at the time of filing of this report.


4 theft cases in city
Tribune Reporters

Chandigarh, May 5
During the past 24 hours, the local police has registered at least four cases of theft under Section 279 of the IPC, including three vehicle thefts, from different parts of the city.

A Sector 19-C resident, Ms Pooja Khatri, reported to the police that her Kinetic Honda (CH03J 2862) was stolen from a parking lot of Government Home Science College, Sector 10, yesterday.

A Maurti car (CH01D 9126) of Ms Nirmaljit Kaur, a Sector 47 resident, was reportedly stolen from her residence on the night intervening May 3 and 4.

A Maruti Zen (CH03A 8472), of Mr Bhupinder Singh, a resident of Sector 44, was also reportedly stolen from Sector 22C on May 3.

Mr Tinu of Sector 7-A also reported to the police that his car stereo was stolen on the night intervening May 3 and 4.

Injured: A resident of Mauli Jagran, Mr Triveni, was injured and admitted to the PGI after his scooter was allegedly hit by another scooter in Mauli Jagran here on Sunday. The accused reportedly fled from the spot. In another incident, a pillion rider sitting on a scooter of Mr Kanwarjit Singh of Sector 31-C was injured after his scooter was allegedly hit by a tractor on the road dividing Sectors 31 and 47 on Friday. The tractor driver, Nand Kishore of Jallon district, Uttar Pradesh, has been arrested under Sections 279 and 337 of the IPC.

2 women held: The Panchkula police arrested two women from Dadu Majra here today on charges of stealing a purse, containing 17 tolas of gold, from an old woman in the General Hospital here on April 29.

Kamla and Vimla were produced before a court and remanded in one-day police custody. They had jostled with Ms Brij Bala Gupta when they were standing in a queue for a check-up at the General Hospital.In the confusion that prevailed, they took away the purse.

SAS Nagar

Held for misbehaviour: The police here has arrested a person on charges of misbehaving and causing damage to property.

According to the information given by the police, Manpreet Pal Singh, a resident of Machiwara, was dining at a local hotel on Saturday night and was in an inebriated condition. He allegedly misbehaved with the staff and also tried to break the hotel’s furniture. He also abused the staff of the hotel.

The police was informed who arrested him under Sections 452, 427 and 506 of the IPC. Manpreet Pal Singh has been remanded in police custody.

Dera Bassi

Truck stolen: A truck owned by Mr Luxmi Kant of Meerpur village was allegedly stolen from the office of the local Truck Union on Friday night.

In a complaint lodged with the police Mr Kant had stated that he had parked the truck (PB-12C-1028) in the parking lot of the union on Friday night but the next day he found the truck missing from the parking lot.

A case has been registered with the Dera Bassi police in this regard.

Injured: A Chandigarh- based family was injured when an unidentified car rammed into their scooter on the Chandigarh-Ambala highway on Monday morning. According to the police , Mr Ashok Kumar, along with his wife and two children, was going on their scooter (CH-03A-9181) when a car coming from the opposite direction rammed into their scooter. The occupants of the car reportedly sped away from the scene. The police has registered a case in this regard.


Jobless youth commits suicide
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, May 5
A debt- ridden resident of Dashmesh Colony, Mr Bhupinder Kumar , who was suffering from depression allegedly committed suicide by consuming some poisonous substance , yesterday morning.

According to the police, Bhupinder was unemployed. He was rushed to Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, by his family members. He died in the evening.

After a post-mortem his body was cremated at his native place today. A case has been registered with the Lohgarh police in this regard.

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