Sunday, May 11, 2003, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Disabled man ‘given electric shocks’
Torture allegations against SHO
Tribune News Service

The names of Ram Lal and Surinder Sharma, involved in the controversy surrounding the ‘Shimla girl rape case’, were being quoted constantly by the detained person Surinder Jindal. Alleging that Ram Lal had threatened to kill him, Jindal said he was to appear in favour of Surinder Sharma in a separate court case in May 5 as he had been Surinder Sharma’s neighbour. ‘‘But since Ram Lal and Surinder Sharma do not get along well, Ram Lal wanted to fix him. He had thus turned the Mohali police on me. I had to run away from his house in Sector 45 on May 2 and come to Phase VII in SAS Nagar to escape the wrath of Ram Lal,’’ said Jindal.

SAS Nagar, May 10
Putting the SAS Nagar police in an extremely tight spot, a physically challenged man, who had allegedly been detained and tortured in the Central Police Station here today narrated his tale of sorrows to a High Court Warrant Officer. He alleged that he had been kept in the police station for seven days illegally and was subjected to physical and mental torture.

The High Court team, led by Mr Krishan Lal Bansal, raided the Phase VIII police station today afternoon acting on a Habeas Corpus petition. Interestingly, within minutes of the arrival of the High Court team, the police showed that the man had just surrendered and was wanted in a case of cheating and theft. The detained man, Surinder Jindal, spilled the beans claiming that the policemen were lying. ‘‘They had tortured me,’’ he said and taking the name of the SHO, he added ‘‘I was subjected to electric shocks .’’

The SHO was called and after meeting him briefly, the Warrant Officer left without getting Jindal released. Stating that he will file a detailed report only before the court, he refused to comment whether he had found the person in illegal custody or not.

Addressing mediapersons after the incident, the SHO of the Phase VIII police station, Mr Ramandeep Singh, stated that they had registered an FIR on May 5 against Surinder Jindal who was wanted in a case of cheating and theft. The complainant, Mr Tejinder Singh of K.K. Electrical, Industrial Area, on whose written statement the case had been registered had alleged that Surinder Jindal has taken away invertors from his premises without his consent.

The police explained that Jindal could not be found till today afternoon when he came with another person to the police station and gave himself in. The police also informed that there were a large number of complaints against Jindal in both Chandigarh and SAS Nagar.

Talking to mediapersons, Jindal, who claimed to be suffering from muscular dystrophy, however, reiterated that there was no case against him when he was picked up by the police on May 3 from his house in Phase VII where he had shifted just the day before. I was beaten up and subjected to electric shocks. “I was constantly asked about some invertors. ‘‘During my detention here, I was taken to a house in Harmilap Nagar, Zirakpur, by the police to ‘recover’ the stolen invertors,’’said Jindal giving the telephone number of the house he was taken to.

When contacted, the person residing at Harmilap Nagar confirmed on condition of anonymity, that Jindal was brought to her house on May 5 and two of her own invertors were taken away by the police. ‘‘Jindal had been our tenant for sometime but we chucked him out after sometime. The police that day took away both the invertors which were fitted in my house. While one belonged to me and was fitted about two years ago the other was given to me by Jindal in lieu of balance of rent and some cash that he owed our family,’’she explained.

The victim’s counsel had accompanied the Warrant Officer along with members of the Lawyers for Human Rights Organisation.



Zirakpur residents heave sigh of relief
Ban on construction activity goes
Our Correspondent

Punjab Government says ‘No.’

When contacted Mr Ashok Kumar Sikka, Deputy Director of the Department of Local Government of Punjab, said that no letter regarding the expiry of the notification has been received by the state government so far. The department would be following directions after getting a letter from the Ministry of Defence. For Punjab the ban on construction activity still exists.

Zirakpur, May 10
Thousands of residents and top Indian as well as multi national companies, who have their homes or godowns near Zirakpur and its surrounding villages, are in for a bonanza. Their woes about being in the ambit of the no- construction zone of the Indian Air force base in Chandigarh, are about to end.

On May 21, 2001, the Ministry of Defence, through a notification, had imposed a ban on any type of construction activity within a radical distance of 900 metres from the outer boundary air base.

A letter issued by the Joint Secretary to Ministry of Defence on May 6 says a notification imposing restrictions on construction within the 900-metre radius from the Indian Air Force (IAF) installations has expired. Hence, there is no such restriction on construction activity around IAF installations on account of this notification.

In a letter to the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), New Delhi, Mr Arvind Joshi, a Joint Secretary of the MoD, says CRPF can constrict its building in Hallo Majra village which also falls within the no-construction zone.

The permission to the CRPF may be of little consequence. What is important is the fact that the same letter says about expiry of the notification banning construction. Mr Joshi’s letter is in reply to the Inspector General of Police (Personal and Headquarters), CRPF, Mr Vikram Srivastava. The CRPF had sought a ‘No Objection’ certificate from the Defence Ministry to start construction work within CRPF premises near Indian Air Force station in Hallomajra near Chandigarh.

Enforcing the ban on construction activity, the Department of Local Government, Punjab, had also conducted raids in the Zirakpur Nagar panchayat area and seized its record pertaining to the approval of building plans besides other related documents last year.

A notice issued by the Department of Local Government for banning the construction activity had also put thousands of residents of these 30 villages in a quandary over the status of their property. With the restriction on any type of construction activity had also led to a drop in property rate in this area.

Even the banks too had stopped granting housing loans to customers after enforcement of the ban. In protest against the ban, residents of the affected villages and colonies had formed Ilaqua Zirakpur Bachao Committee. Soon after the news ( the expiry of the notification regarding ban on construction activity) spread, there was an atmosphere of celebration. Residents were seen congratulating each other.

Mr Jaspal Singh and Mr Narinder Sharma, president and general secretary of the Ilaqua Zirakpur Bachao Committee, respectively, have thanked the Defence Ministry for lifting the ban on construction activities within prohibited limits.



Ban on construction: stir threatened
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, May 10
The files pertaining to the ‘‘lifting of ban on the construction within a distance of 900 metres from the periphery of the defence installation here’’ seem to have been gathering dust and it appears that the authorities are not interested in giving a clear picture to the public on the issue.

This negligent behaviour of the government has put thousands of residents of this area in doldrums over the security of their property. The residents are passing sleepless nights since the Department of Local Government of Punjab banned any type of construction activity within a radial distance of 900 metres from the periphery of the defence installations here.

In protest against the ban imposed by the department on constructing structures in this area, residents of 30 affected villages had formed the Ilaqua Zirakpur Bachao Committee in November last year.

Members of the committee and members of various other resident welfare associations while demanding the withdrawal of notices issued by the Local Government Department of Punjab prohibiting constructions and approval of building plans within a radius of 900 metres from the defence installations had also staged a dharna in front of the office of the Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat on November 25.

But after being pacified by Ms Preneet Kaur, the committee postponed the agitation.

The MP had also constituted a six-member committee under the chairmanship of Mr R.R.Bhardwaj, Deputy Chairman of the State Planning Board on December 3. The committee was formed to find out some alternative solution.

The committee under the chairmanship of Mr Bhardwaj further constituted a sub-committee and a report based on public grievance and suggestions was prepared by Mr Deepinder Singh Dhillon, Additional Advocate-General of Punjab, a member of the sub committee.

A comprehensive report prepared by Mr Deepinder Singh Dhillon and Mr Krishan Pal Sharma, a Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee member and Mr Narinder Sharma, general secretary of the Ilaqua Zirakpur Bachao Committee, was later sent to Mr R.R. Bhardwaj, Deputy Chairman, who was to submit the report to the Punjab Chief Minister but the issue hangs in fire till date.

While contacted,Mr Bhardwaj said he would give his comments on the issue later.

Meanwhile, Mr Narinder Sharma, general secretary of the Ilaqua Zirakpur Bachao Committee has threatened to restart the agitation.



PGI chemist knows your operation date before you
Pratibha Chauhan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh May, 10
Such is the influence that some of the city chemists wield at the PGI that even before the patients know about their surgery date, the list of operations scheduled for the day is with them, as they approach attendants of patients to make purchases from their shop.

Even as authorities deny this, the fact remains that agents of some chemists and laboratories make rounds of the PGI Emergency and other wards daily, offering to provide entire surgical material or get all laboratory tests done.

“I was surprised when an agent of a local chemist offered to provide me the stent and other surgical material required for my mother’s angioplasty, as he had a copy of the operation list. We were yet to be informed about the operation by the doctors,” said a woman whose mother underwent a cardiac surgery at PGI in March.

“The fact that some of these chemists are very close to certain doctors cannot be denied. Otherwise how is it possible for them to get the surgery list for any particular day, much in advance,” said an employee in the PGI Emergency, hinting at the “close links” between doctors and chemists.

Majority of the PGI staff too admitted that agents of local chemists usually approached patients and their families for providing them with surgical material. “This obviously is being done to make maximum sales and the links with the doctors come handy in getting a copy of the list of operations for the day,” said a staff nurse.

Though this problem is more evident in case of Cardiology Department, there have been such cases in other departments as well. “Patients are generally informed about the surgery a day in advance and they are free to buy the material from wherever they wish to as we do not patronise anyone,” clarified Dr J.D. Wig, Head of Surgery.

In case of critical patients, who are rushed to the PGI Emergency from outstation, the family members in order to save time buy the surgical material from these people. “Others who can barely arrange money for the surgery go to different shops to compare the rates and get the material at lowest cost,” explained a doctor.

There have been occasions when doctors have allegedly asked patients to buy surgery material from a particular shop. “In one particular case, a patient had to face a lot of inconvenience as against the advice of the doctor he made purchases from a different chemist,” revealed an official.

There have been several complaints by patients about overcharging by chemists at the PGI to the authorities. Even though the PGI doctors keep cautioning the patients against such agents, the fact is that they continue to stalk the emergency wards and corridors of the PGI.



Residents resent PSEB apathy
Bipin Bhardwaj

Zirakpur, May 10
A major mishap is waiting to happen in Badhawa Nagar Colony in Bartana village as an electricity transformer, that feeds power to the area, has been placed on ground instead of on electricity pole for the past couple of years. Thanks to the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) authorities at Zirakpur the transformer has not been installed on the poles in spite of repeated requests by the residents.

The transformer is functioning from a small platform that has been encircled with a barbed wire since long. The authorities are using pieces of electricity wires for connecting its terminals with the overhead electricity cables.

Some pieces of wire have been fixed with two cement poles that are supported by electricity cables to the ground, thus making it a deathtrap for the road users as well as for the residents of the area.

Moreover, ‘nets’ of loose and naked electricity cables have become virtual death traps for the residents in various colonies within the Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat area for the past several years, said Mr Prem Singh, president of residents welfare body of the Badhawa Nagar Colony. He lamented that in spite of making payment for the service, the PSEB authorities had hardly provided them with proper services.

The PSEB authorities have replaced a damaged transformer in Lohgarh village but only on paper. The transformer(feeding street lights), was damaged over two-and-a-half months ago. In response to a complaint, the authorities had promised to replace it but nothing has been done in this regard so far, complained Mr Ram Singh, a resident of Lohgarh . Residents of the area complained that the authorities had been harassing the consumers by unnecessarily slapping penalties

‘‘The residents are not even getting electricity bills at their doorstep which the department earlier used to provide. Now they have to waste hours just to collect their electricity bills that are piled outside the bill collection centres. The board has further added to their problems instead of easing them,’’ said Mr Jagir Singh. The non-functional streetlighting system has been favouring anti-social elements and miscreants active in the area, pointed out Mr Gian Singh of Akali Kaur Singh Colony.

While shifting the responsibility for this on the colonisers, the Sub Divisional Officer, Zirakpur, said the haphazard growth of colonies in the areas had aggravated the problem. He made it clear that pressure on the PSEB authorities from the political and other influential persons had forced the employees to provide them connection in haste which often lead to shortcomings.

He clarified that the damaged transformer in Lohgarh village was replaced soon after a complaint was received in this regard from the residents but the new one was also damaged due to some technical reasons within a day. A new transformer would be installed in its place tomorrow, he claimed. 


Power reforms on ‘wrong track’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 10
Power reforms in the country are on the wrong track. The process of privatisation of the state power boards has been started to make profit from the power sector and not with a social objective of providing electricity to the people at affordable rates, Mr M.G. Devasahayam, a utility management expert and former IAS officer, said here today.

Giving a talk on power reforms at the Centre for Research and Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID), Mr Devasahayam said that from the social, political, economic points of view, the power sector was the most important but volatile area.

“The reforms are not an instant coffee. These are a long-time process. But various states in India wanted quick results for reforms without examining other alternatives available,” he said. Presenting a new methodology for reforms, Mr Devasahayam said that the existing model of reforms being implemented by state after state had been dictated by the donor agency i.e. the World Bank.

The Union Finance and Power Ministry did not consult any other ministry, state and even stake-holders before implementing the donor agency designed model, he said. He said that power reforms had failed in Orissa and tottering in all other states, except Andhra Pradesh which was getting a huge aid from the Centre. Haryana, where power reforms started a few years ago, was in a static mode at present and it was neither moving ahead nor backward on the reforms front, he added.

In fact, by providing an alternative methodology, Mr Devasahayam rejected the power reforms model approved by the Haldia committee for Punjab. He found several faults in the model. There was nothing wrong with power boards, including the Punjab State Electricity Board. There was no need to tamper with its existing structure. Sharing the salient features of his methodology for reforms, Mr Devasahayam said that revenue based entities should be set up in the PSEB.

The existing subsidy system should be changed. Every section should be asked to make payment of power bills. Subsidised sections should be issued redeemable coupons by the government, he added.

Asked whether farmers were making any gain from subsidy, he said it should be carefully studied. Mr J.P. Gupta presided over the function. Several former engineers, including Mr N.S. Bhatti and Mr M.S. Bajwa, president of the PSEB Engineering Association, took part in the discussion that followed the talk.



Celebrating the glamour of simplicity
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 10
After a long time, the city's fashion circuit had something to boast of. As a little-heard-of local designer — Dimpy Gujral — unveiled her summer collection in the wonderfully engaging ambience of Rock Garden, one was assured that the City Beautiful still had some share of creative verve.

The show was more an affair in simplicity than in glamour. The only element of glamour was the list of top models, who perfectly fitted the tone of the evening — that was given to “timelessness”.

From this very interesting concept of timelessness flowed fabrics that were flamboyant, yet earthy; designs that were global, yet traditional; impressions that were stylish, yet balanced.

Taking on the city glitterati assembled in the first phase of the Rock Garden were top models like Jessy Randhawa, still known for her casual presence in the Jasbir Jassi video “Kuri Kuri”; Carol, who shot to fame when international pop band Stereo Nation chose her to play the lead in the music video, “Carol”; Katrina Kaif, better known now for her link up with Salman Khan; ramp models Vidisha Pabate, Sapna Kumar, Sampada, Srishti, Parul, Tina Chhatwal and Apoorva Jha.

Teaming up with the starry presence of successful models was the perfect organisation of the show, that was choreographed by a Delhi-based company.

Drawing energy from traditional, folk and Western numbers, the collection progressed from one round to another, reflecting the beauty of fabrics, glorified with magical dyes.

In fact, perfectly dyed patterns stood out as the hallmark of the collection that was primarily about Indo-Westerns, complimented with ethnic wear.

About 60 creations surfaced during the course of nine rounds presented during the one-hour show, that began with the reflection of pristine purity of whites and ended with a statement of woman's individuality in highly-personalised styling patterns.

Katrina Kaif virtually wore another face on her costume, as she walked the ramp in the last round of the evening.

Floral patterns further highlighted the beautiful cuts and fall of the fabrics, that were created to suit all styles and moods.

There were collections inspired by aqua colours as well as the designs created in hues of fire like orange, red and rust.



Sahib for freedom of labour movement
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 10
Every individual should get an opportunity to work, as employment is the best security or protection and massive efforts be made for training of unskilled workers. Dr Sahib Singh Verma, Union Minister of Labour in his inaugural address, stated this, at a seminar on "Social Dialogue as an instrument of Decent Work" organised by PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Council of Indian Employers here, today.

He said that in a global economy faced with challenges of increasing integration between developed and developing countries, there is a constant threat of widening disparities and inequalities. He appealed the ILO to take an important initiative in bridging this gap. He also advocated for removal of restrictions on the movement of labour force worldwide ensuring that the migrant workforce be provided the same remuneration as the local worker.

He further said that social protection; social dialogue and fundamental rights at work are the pillars of decent work. The first priority for any government is to provide employment to its workforce so as to ensure two square meals for the worker and his family.

He also said that it is essential to ensure that decent work does not become a mere camouflage for introducing the social norms linking labour standards to trade. Tailor-made norms for defining 'decent work' should be introduced keeping in mind the conditions prevalent in each country.

Dr Verma disclosed that four out of the eight core conventions had been ratified while the remaining were at various stages of consultations with the concerned parties and the social partners. India followed a proactive policy for achieving the strategic objectives of rights of labourers by taking necessary constitutional, statutory and developmental measures.

The Labour and Employment Minister of Punjab, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh emphasised the importance of looking after the needs of workforce in the unorganised as well as organised sector.

In his Presidential address, Justice A.S. Anand, Chairman of National Human Rights Commission stressed upon to make human rights as the focal point to protect the rights of labourers. Good governance can only be a dream without this, he said.

Highlighting the basic problem being faced by the poor and depressed society in the country, Justice Anand said that child labour or bonded labour is not permitted in any law of the nation but the ground reality is that exploitation is still going on even in the 21st century.

The President of PHDCCI, Mr P.K. Jain, said that the major task before the developing economies is to sustain social progress. New social role is emerging with the loss of jobs, particularly with the closing down of traditional industries in the country. "More solid cooperative role for healthier and sustainable growth is the need of the hour", he added.

Others who were present in the seminar include Ashwani Dhani President of AIOE (CIE), IP Anand, member of the governing body of ILO, Herman Van Der Laan, Director of ILO (India), Sanjay Kumar Labour Commissioner of Punjab, Mrs Amarjit Kaur, Secretary AITUC, S.S. Chauhan, Secretary INTUC among others.



Octroi staff harassing residents: councillors
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, May 10
A number of complaints regarding harassment being caused to residents by the octroi contractor and his staff were made by certain councillors at the Municipal Council meeting held here today. The councillors asked the civic body President to look into the matter.

Mr Amrik Singh narrated a case where a resident was asked to pay Rs 6,300 as penalty amount for not paying octroi on an old computer which he was bringing back from Chandigarh after getting it repaired. A partner of the octroi contractor ultimately let off the resident by allegedly accepting Rs 2,500 from him and issuing him a fake receipt.

Mr N.K. Marwaha alleged he had personally suffered harassment at the hands of the staff of the octroi contractor who were neither wearing any uniform, nor badges. They could not even produce their identity cards. He said the octroi contractor was imposing penalties in violation of the terms of the contract. Only the Executive Officer of the civic body or his officials could impose penalties in cases of octroi evasion.

Mr Surjit Singh Garewal also cited a case when members of the staff of the octroi contractor followed a resident to his house and asked him to get his car checked much to his annoyance.

Development works costing about Rs 2.79 crore for the town were cleared at the meeting. The development works to be undertaken include the maintenance of roads, the strengthening of road dividers, the provision and repair of curb channels, the provision of streetlights, the removal of congress grass, construction of road gullies and the development of the cremation ground.

The House cleared the proposal relating to the sanctioning of Rs 1.11 lakh for the repair of the funeral van. A two-member committee has been formed to keep a tab on the expenditure to be incurred on the repair work. Mr Surjit Singh Garewal and Mr Tarlochan Singh have been made members of the committee.

The proposal for the recruitment of 35 firemen on a regular basis was also cleared at the meeting. It was decided that the candidates who had already been shortlisted after the physical test during November and December in 2001 would also be considered apart from inviting fresh applications.

The proposal to reintroduce the pre-audit scheme to maintain records of expenditure on a day-to-day basis was also cleared by the House.



PCR personnel will be more disciplined now
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 10
Now it will not be easy for police personnel on the Police Control Room (PCR) vehicles to booze around while on duty.

Concerned at the drunken staff on PCR vehicles creating nuisance at public places, the duty officers at the police stations will verify that the PCR personnel were not in inebriated state while reporting on duty.

Sources in the police said that the Station House Officers (SHOs) and the duty officers have been asked to satisfy themselves before allowing the personnel on PCR vehicles to leave for duty.

The directions have been issued after an ASI, P.C. Pannu was suspended and a Home Guard volunteer, Nasib, was discharged from duty, for allegedly misbehaving with a gathering at a jagran on May 5. The Home Guard volunteer was found in an inebriated state. A few months back, police personnel in a PCR gypsy near the PGI entrance were found having a drinking session in the vehicle itself. Both the enquires were conducted by the DSP, Om Parkash.

The sources said the SHOs have been asked to check that no PCR personnel indulged in drinking in their duty vehicle. The issue was discussed at a recent meeting of senior police officials.

It may be pertinent to mention that the top brass of the Chandigarh Police has redefined the role of PCR’s. The men and machinery of the Police Control Room (PCR) were put at the disposal of the Station House Officers. The officials were now planning to cover the entire city with PCR gypsies, said the sources.

The strategy was in withdrawal from the earlier practice when the staff on the PCR vehicles moved from pre-determined points after every three to four hours. In a significant decision taken by the top brass of the Chandigarh Police, the 65 odd PCR vehicles have each been given beats covering an area of 2 to 3 km.

Sources in the police said that as per the strategy, the duty schedule of the PCR vehicles had been divided into eight parts, depending upon the nature of duty.

The duty officer of the respective police station was also directed to check the duties of the PCR staff in their respective beats. From 10 pm to 5 am, the SHOs had been empowered to change the locations of the PCRs. The official said the SHO had been asked to supervise the PCR staff during the night hours.

It had also been decided that the SHOs would be briefing the staff on the PCR vehicles at 8 am and 8 pm. Earlier the staff on the PCRs changed their shifts at their static locations. Now the PCR staff would change their shift in the police stations of their respective beat.



MC seeks pipeline to meet water shortage
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, May 10
The Municipal Council (MC) has sought the laying of a new 20 million gallons per day (mgd) pipeline for the supply of canal water to the town to overcome the worsening problem of water shortage.

The MC President, Mr Kulwant Singh, in a letter to the Secretary, Local Government, Punjab, Mr Sarvesh Kaushal, said in 1977 a scheme had been drawn up for the augmentation of water supply to Chandigarh. It was proposed at that time that four pipelines of 20 mgd would be laid for Chandigarh from Kajauli and two exclusively for SAS Nagar. Land had already been acquired by PUDA for the pipeline project.

The MC President said the ground water level had been dropping steadily in the town as a result the 30 tubewells sunk by the erstwhile Punjab Housing Development Board (now PUDA) had become non-functional. Tubewells which could be sunk upto a depth of 500 ft now had to be sunk to a level of more than 1,250 ft.

He said the water discharge of the existing tubewells was also decreasing. The council had been sinking tubewells from time to time to tackle the water shortage, but this was at best a temporary measure. In fact, he said, the funds of the council spent in this connection would amount to a waste in the long run.

Mr Kulwant Singh said a 20 mgd pipeline was the only solution. He urged the Secretary to press the PUDA authorities to take up the pipeline project.



BJP trying to ‘derail’ MC working
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 10
The BJP is trying to derail the functioning of the Municipal Corporation and harm the interests of city residents by using its links in the Central Government to pressurise the Chandigarh Administration into issuing anti-people orders like the imposition of hiked property tax and the amendment to the Rent Act.

This was stated by Mr B.B. Bahl and Mr Subhash Chawla, president of the local unit of the Congress and the Mayor, respectively. They said today that the BJP was wrongly using its central leadership. They alleged that Mr Satya Pal Jain, former local BJP MP had hardly done anything good for the city residents. Even for small things like housing of cattle in the city, the BJP claims to have spoken to the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Lal Krishan Advani.

Mr Bahl alleged, ‘‘When for all issues they claim to speak to Advani ji how come the same Advani ji did nothing when the Chandigarh Administration amended the Rent Act or when the property tax was hiked from 2 to 5 per cent against the mandate of the elected representatives.’’ The same BJP has stalled the implementation of the recommendations of the Delhi Finance Corporation (DFC) which had talked about revenue sharing between the Administration and the MC. The file is lying pending with the Union Home Ministry headed by Mr Advani, alleged Mr Chawla.

If we get revenue sharing then we need not impose any taxes. A visibly angry Mr Chawla said, ‘‘I fail to understand how property tax can be raised from 2 per cent as suggested by the MC.’’ This is arbitrary, said the Mayor.

Commenting on allegations levelled by the BJP that the Congress was shielding people for their alleged involvement in the murder of UT XEN V.K. Chopra, who was murdered in SAS Nagar in February, Mr Bahl said if Mr Jain claimed he knew so much, he should join the police or the police should arrest him and question him about the source of his information. Mr Parampal Singh Matharoo, a former Congressman, has been expelled from the Congress after he was arrested.

They said if Matharoo was guilty then he would be punished as per the law of the land. Mr Pawan Bansal or the Congress had not approached anyone to protect Matharoo and Mr Jain was levelling false allegations in this regard.



Indo-Pak ties: Gen Malik for cautious approach
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 10
Welcoming a dialogue between India and Pakistan to resolve bilateral issues, the former Chief of Army Staff, Gen V.P. Malik, has advised a cautious approach, while keeping ground realities governing the region’s strategic environment in view.

Addressing members of the Association of British Scholars, he said: “We should have a dialogue but we cannot afford to be dreamers”.

Dwelling upon the security environment in the region, General Malik said Pakistan had been following an Indo-centric policy where it defined its own identity with hostility towards India. He said the Pak army dominated government policies and as long as India was projected as an enemy, it would not allow its central role to be weakened.

Stating that Pakistan’s encouragement of jehadi groups was dangerous not only to others but to Pakistan as well, the former Army Chief remarked that Pakistan had been and would work towards means to take Kashmir.

Stating that Pakistan had fought three wars with India and border skirmishes were still going on, he added that a proxy war could easily slip into a limited conventional war as violence could not be tolerated.

General Malik said the escalation was possible right up to a nuclear war.

On the Chinese front, General Malik was of the opinion that while China was increasing its influence in South Asia, it had a strategic alliance with Pakistan. Stating that Indian nuclear capability had had an impact on the Sino-Indian strategic equation, he added that while relations between the two countries were improving, India was also vulnerable to coercive diplomacy.

He was of the opinion that any further annexation of Indian territory by China would stretch its resources. Ruling out a Sino-Indian nuclear war till 2015, he cautioned against a limited war of skirmishes along the border.

In the backdrop of the current strategic environment, General Malik stressed the development and maintenance of strategic deterrence. He said India could not afford to be militarily weak and if the perception got into the minds of China, Pakistan or other neighbouring countries, India might lose its territory or be forced to give concessions to others.

He remarked that till 2015, a sub-conventional war or under the shadow of nuclear weapons or a limited war under nuclear conditions was more likely, for which India must have economic and technological strength and escalation dominance.



Indian couple on Discovery Channel
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 10
The Discovery Channel will feature an Indian couple in a series that premiers on Mother’s Day tomorrow.

According to a press note, this two-hour special programme spans 18 time zones to capture families sharing the common experience of childbirth in eight countries across five continents on the same day: India, Afghanistan, Argentina, Japan, Northern Ireland, Russia, South Africa and the USA. In India, the Discovery Channel team visited Ritu and her husband Ramesh in Mumbai. The couple was over anxious as Ritu had miscarried two times before. The doctors had scheduled a ceasarean for the expectant mother, which would have set the family back by one month’s salary. After a successful operation, an elated Ramesh had to drag himself away from his newborn son to go to work.



MC's panel to take up welfare schemes
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 10
The Slum Development Committee of the local Municipal Corporation (MC) on Monday passed a unanimous resolution to bring all social welfare schemes being undertaken by the MC under it. The meeting was chaired by Mr Dildar Khan. It resolved to prepare a list of all social welfare schemes and to get more funds for providing potable water, roads, healthcare, better sanitation, street lighting in both authorised and unauthorised colonies.



Improving condition of IAF flats

THIS is with reference to the news item to The Tribune dated April 16, 2003. It has been mentioned that more than 800 Air Force flats, built about 25 years ago, are in bad shape, bars are exposed and there are cracks. MES carried out repairs, but the desired result was not obtained. The defects cropped up during the construction stage. Some of these defects include less concrete cover, less vibrations, honey combing voids, quality of material, more WC ratio and less curing. The defects during the post-construction stage were ingress of water, CO2 and CI2.

In this new millennium, the Air Force flats in question can be improved with latest technology (Polymer based chemicals/construction material). We have already raised the standard of a number of structures with our ingenious and innovative studies and techniques with more than 15 years international expertise.

V.K. Nanda, Mansa Devi complex, Panchkula

A ‘hell’ of a town

Zirakpur, which is the gateway to Punjab and also to the City Beautiful, is in a shabby state and represents an ugly picture to visitors coming to Chandigarh and Panchkula. It is developing haphazardly on the same pattern like other towns. There are traffic snarls because of shops situated on the edge of either sides of the National Highway, making the road more narrow with encroachments by shopkeepers, hawkers and parking of vehicles on the road.

There is no proper footpath and no traffic lights. The road leading to Panchkula-Kalka till the old bridge is also in poor condition. Trucks and Haryana Roadways buses are parked besides the road, creating dust in the absence of road berms. Traffic jams are routine affair as the bridge is too narrow and old to bear the present heavy traffic. The town lacks all basic infrastructure since it is developing on its own. Many residential colonies are too narrow and unplanned. Most of the residents do not have safe drinking water and are forced to use ground water which is totally unhygienic. Having no drainage system for waste and rain water, open drains create foul smell. The pollution level of town is also increasing day by day with its growth. The town has the maximum air and noise pollution as it lacks parks/green belts and trees in residential colonies.


Safai scheme for the city

The new sehaj safai kendra scheme has been introduced in Chandigarh with great fanfare by the authorities concerned. A question mark has arisen over the fate of this scheme as to whether it will become successful or will die its own death like the previous such schemes. Based on my long experience as a social worker, I can visualise and say with confidence that this scheme will create more problems than tackling basic issues related to sanitation, cleanliness and environment protection. The scheme introduced by the Chandigarh Administration long back for door-to-door collection of domestic garbage remained quite successful for about three decades. After that due to increase in population, lack of funds and lack of interest on the part of implementation staff, this scheme saw its end. Now, especially after formation of a corporation, the condition of sanitation and garbage disposal has gone from bad to worse.

According to the SSK scheme, a few garbage dumping sites will be created at selected places to cover these sectors in the first zone. Keeping in view the past experience, we fear that garbage dumped at these sites will not be lifted regularly by the concerned authorities.

In my view the solution lies in following universally tried and well accepted system of collecting domestic waste and garbage on a house-to-house basis. This activity can be effectively implemented and managed through contract assignments given to professionally competent organisations in the field of waste collection, recycling and waste disposal.

Bant Singh, Chandigarh

Well done, Jacob

The term of the Chief Administrator of Chandigarh-cum-Governor of Punjab, Lieut-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), has come to a sad end. General Jacob did commendable work for Chandigarh and brought the city on top in the field of information technology, tourism and cleanliness. He took keen interest in the city, its people and its upkeep. His tenure was a wonderful period and it will be remembered for long. The efforts or to say the grassroot level work that General Jacob did in the field of information technology is highly praiseworthy. The setting up of a software park in Chandigarh also goes to his credit. This will generate avenues for computer professionals as well as other unemployed educated youth.

General Jacob proved to be a young man in his motivation. He carried out surprise checks in public places. Even his efforts during winter to disburse blankets is a unique touch of sympathy for the poor ones. He was the messiah for all. Chandigarhians will miss him for his noble gestures. It is expected that the new incumbent will continue the good work with the same vigour and initiative.

Ujagar Singh, Chandigarh

Streamline courts’ working

This is with reference to the write-up “Judges bearing six times the normal load” by Surya Prakash in The Tribune dated May 6, 2003. While the writer mentions about the large pendency of cases in the courts and attributes it to the shortage of Judges, he does not take into account the management of cases in the courts. The numerous ills leading to the accumulation of cases can be attributed to the lack of monitoring at the appropriate level. A visit to any court would convince one that the working of the courts needs to be improved. For instance, in the absence of the presiding officer, the cases should be postponed to the next date when the presiding officer will be available for ‘proper order’ and not to the date(s) several weeks thereafter, as is invariably the case at present.

All the issues in a case should be decided as per the pleadings. A serious note should be taken of any lapse in this behalf. It will obviate the necessity of filing of meritless appeals, revisions and the writ petitions reducing work at the level of higher courts. Further, the parties seeking adjournments should be burdened with heavy costs. Cases in which stay orders have been issued should be listed for disposal on a priority basis. Typing facilities should be liberally increased, wherever necessary. Let these measures be taken immediately and the position watched and reviewed every year.

A.C. AGGARWAL, Chandigarh

Cruelty to animals

This has reference to a letter to the Editor by Dr R.M. Sharma regarding cruelty to animals which appeared in Chandigarh Tribune, dated April 28, 2003.

Dr Sharma in his letter has threatened the public that people can be punished with imprisonment and fine, while he has not given any solution to the problem of increase in the number of stray dogs in Chandigarh. In Sector 31 where I reside, the stray dog menace is so high that when I go for jogging in the morning, these dogs chase me and other boys, which has resulted in injuries and accidents. On many occasions it has forced me to change the route, which is almost 1 km longer than my usual route.

Can Dr Sharma look into this problem? or do the members of the SPCA only show artificial interest, sitting in their cozy offices holding high respectable positions in various oarganisations? The SPCA members should look down to see what the general public has to face ?

NIPUN KHANNA, Chandigarh

Traffic drives should be educative

Why are the traffic police in our city such a frustrated lot? The frequent ‘challan sprees’ they go on, especially during traffic awareness weeks, is demonstrative more of a mentality rooted in aggression than on a desire to rid society of ills that plague it. Rather than being educative and corrective in nature, traffic drives are invariably punitive. If instead the masses are educated through various means, particularly at school level, the need to punish will dramatically go down.

Recently, I witnessed unpleasant scenes at traffic lights at various places in the city. Because these lights suddenly shift from green to red, without giving any reaction time in between to fast moving commuters, they invariably fall on the wrong side of the law by having to jump the red light. And if some hapless soul is able to exhibit quick reaction, due to which he or she is left stranded on or beyond the zebra crossing, it invites a smirking traffic cop rippling a challan slip from his booklet, walking gleefully towards the “errant” driver.

Don’t the cops realise the risk involved in having to suddenly apply brakes on a fast moving vehicle? The countdown time installed near the Government Press (Sector 17-18/8-9 intersection on the Madhya Marg) is an extremely valuable addition towards ensuring safe commuting. If more such timers are introduced at other crossings — at least at major crossings like the railway and transport intersections — this problem of inadvertent jumping of red light and trespassing on zebra crossings can be easily avoided as a result.


Fire safety plans

This is with reference to two reports — ‘Uphaar tragedy: no lesson for city cinemas’ and ‘Take fire safety steps, cinema owners told’ — Chandigarh Tribune, May 6. Earlier, the Dabwali fire incident took place in Haryana about 7-8 years ago. Hundreds of persons lost their lives. There is also need of fire safety plans for rehri markets in the city. The system is faulty in all rehri markets. The Municipal Corporation had suggested measures to streamline the functioning of rehri markets in different parts of the city to avoid any fire outbreak in such markets.

A number of times fire broke out in the city in the rehri markets. The Sector 19 rehri market was gutted twice in fire in 1981 and 1993. Everything parished in the market. Sector 22 and 46 rehri markets also faced the same fate. The UT Administration had helped the rehri markets to construct pucca booths in Sector 19 and other parts of the city. These rehri markets are full of clothes, wool, wood and other inflammable material. The Sector 19 rehri market is a virtual deathtrap in case of fire.

M.L. GARG, Chandigarh



Dredging is the best solution

I have served in the UT Engineering Department for 13 years, first as the Superintending Engineer and then as the Chief Engineer and Secretary, Engineering Department (1974-87). I have studied the problem of silt in the lake at close quarters and initiated a number of measures to minimise it during my tenure in the UT. I don’t think it will be safe to raise the water level in Sukhna Lake by raising the crest level on which the radial gates of the dam rest.

The original pond level of the lake was 1,159 feet which was later raised to 1,160 feet. Top level of the radial gates is 1,161. There is a provision for handling another two feet of flood water. But if the crest level is raised by two feet, the radial gates will have to handle a water level of 1,164 feet during floods. I doubt if the radial gates and supporting walls around these will be able to withstand the additional pressure. There is a need to exercise utmost caution in this regard.

I feel that dredging is the best solution to the problem of silt in the lake. The lake will not survive for long without dredging.

J.S. Kohli, Ex-Chief Engineer & Secy, Engr Dept, UT Chandigarh



Four private financiers held
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 10
The Panchkula police arrested four private financiers from different parts of the city late this evening on charges of violating the RBI rules on lending.

The accused — Amit Kumar Juneja from Sector 20, Punit Aggarwal from Sector 11, Som Nath Ghai from Sector 15 and Krishna Kumar Goel from Sector 19 — were arrested under Sections 420, 384, 342, 506 and 323 of the IPC.

They were allegedly lending money at a very high rate of interest, varying from 15 to 20 per cent, which is more than what has been specified by the RBI. They were also taking an installment of 1 per cent of the principal each day from their customers. It is learned that Sub-Inspector, Mahender Singh, SHO of Sector 19 police station, raided the house of the accused after receiving a complaint from Mr Surinder Kumar, a weaver in Railley village.

The complainant had reportedly borrowed Rs 10,000 from the accused a few months ago. They had made him sign certain blank documents and given him only Rs 8,800 after deducting interest of 12 per cent. He was also made to pay an installment of Rs 100 per day and if by any chance he faltered with this installment he was made to pay an additional Rs 20 each day as defaulted installment.



Sanjay Nai’s remand extended
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 10
A local court today extended the police remand of Sanjay Nai, one of the prime accused in the Sachin Garg kidnapping case, till May 12. However, two other accused, Gaurav Bhalla and Munish Bhalla, have been remanded in 14 days judicial custody by the JMIC, Mr P.K. Yadav.

It may be noted that the three, along with Gaurav Maini, had conspired to kidnap Sachin Garg, son of a local businessman, and released him after taking a ransom of Rs 1 crore.

Injured: Ms Sneh Bansal, a resident of Sector 4 and her daughter, Rashi, were injured when they were hit by a car in Sector 4 at about 9 p.m. on Saturday. 



Police asks CBSE for ‘altered’ answer-sheets
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 10
The Chandigarh police has written to senior authorities of the CBSE to provide answer-sheets of the students whose roll numbers have been disclosed by the members of the gang during preliminary investigations, in the CBSE scam unearthed yesterday. A forensic test would be conducted to prove the difference in ink or handwriting.

The local police had arrested seven members of the gang on Friday for their alleged role in smuggling the answer-sheets during the past few years.

According to sources in the police department, the preliminary interrogation of the seven arrested persons had revealed that the contractor, D.V. Arora, a former Registrar of Kurukshetra University, had hired 60 persons on daily wages to deliver the answer-sheets to the students who paid money to fill up the answer-sheets that were ‘intentionally’ left blank.

However, a senior official of the CBSE denied any involvement of officials in the racket.

The police is also working on a theory of the involvement of an official of the CBSE, particularly from the secrecy branch, in the scam.



Man killed in road mishap

Chandigarh, May 10
Amit (21), a resident of Shanti Nagar, Manimajra, died after the bicycle he was riding was hit by a vehicle near Transport Chowk traffic light points here this evening. He was rushed to hospital, where he was declared brought dead. A case has been registered. OC



Sales conference of HMT Tractor ends
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 10
The three-day annual sales conference of the HMT Tractor Business Group concluded today. About 50 regional / area sales managers from all over the country participated in the conference.

Participants deliberated on strategies to increase market share, export plan, cost reducing plan and launch of new models of tractors. Delivering the keynote address, Mr S.K. Sharma, Group General Manager, Tractor Business Group, discussed the difficulties being faced by the sales managers in view of prevailing recession as well as the competitive market scenario in the tractor industry.

He explained that the domestic tractor industry had declined by 26 per cent in the last financial year and in April alone estimates show that it had declined by 18 per cent as compared to the same month in the previous financial year.

The other officers who attended the conference were Mr Daljit Singh, General Manager (Tractor), Mr PA Prashar, General Manager (Commercial), Mr Om Prakash, General Manager (R and D), and Mr Shiva Prasanna, General Manager (Mohalli Plant).

Cotton Gold Alliance

Leading cotton garment manufacturers met in the city on Wednesday and formally launched the “seal of cotton”. This international mark of quality cotton fabrics is supported in India by leading brands like Monte Carlo and Cotton Country from Nahar group, Barkeley from Vardhman, Arrow, Lee and Wrangler from Arvind brands, Blackberrys, Cottons by Century etc. They will promote the “new face of cotton” in India. The seal is an initiative spearheaded by the Cotton Gold Alliance (CGA).

Cotton has always played an important role in the lives of Indians and has aptly been called the fabric of India. Leading apparel and textile brands will now display tags and labels bearing the seal on their products, distinguishing them as high-quality 100 per cent cotton products.

During the launch, Mr Harminder Sahni, Principal, KSA Technopak, a management consulting firm, said: “India is one of the largest producers and consumers of cotton products. The “seal of cotton” will help differentiate pure cotton products from a variety of cotton products.



Truck operators shifting business to Haryana
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 10
A large number of truck operators from Punjab, including that of SAS Nagar, have shifted their base to Haryana, reportedly due to considerable difference in permit fee and overloading charges in both states. Truck operators have claimed that due to harassment at the hands of district transport officers (DTOs) and higher charges, they were shifting to the neighbouring state.

Mr Jagdish Chander, coordinator, state-level Truck Operator Associations of Punjab, claimed: “Truck operators in the state are passing through a very difficult phase due to bureaucratic procedures of the transport department and higher charges.” For instance, he said, in Punjab operators had to wait up to two months to get the registration number for trucks from DTOs and had to pay Rs 6,500 as permit fee. But in Haryana, registration was done within a day or two and the permit fee was just Rs 2,500. Due to shifting of truck operators, he claimed, the state government was also losing hefty amount every year.

The Mohali Truck Operators Association claimed that around 350 local truck operators had already shifted to Haryana. “Why should we continue our business here when the state government and especially its transport department is bent on crushing our trade. How can we remain in business, when the state government has fixed district wise quotas for the DTOs to collect monthly fee,” a truck operator asked.

Insiders point out that in Haryana the DTOs charge a fixed amount of Rs 2,000 per tonne for overloading, but in Punjab there is no upper limit of fine and DTOs charge up to Rs 5,000 for one tonne of extra load. It may be mentioned that under the Motor Vehicles Act, up to 9 tonnes of weight can be loaded in a normal truck. However, most of the truckers load up to 15-17 tonnes of weight.

According to information available from the state transport authorities of Punjab and Haryana, 84,070 trucks were registered in Punjab as against 11,144 trucks in Haryana by 2000-01. But during the next two years, new truck operators of Punjab preferred Ambala and other neighbouring districts for registration.

Mr Jagdish Chander said, “DTOs in Punjab are forcing us to get registration in the state. In case of trucks bearing Haryana registration numbers, they impose Rs 1,000 as additional fine for a minor offence.” He said to save the business in the state, the government should evolve a policy in consultation with major truck operators’ unions.

He said with the increase in input costs and due to stiff competition from railways and with the entry of new operators, the margins in the trade had gone down. The state government should intervene to safeguard their interests, as the business was providing employment to lakhs of people in the state and making significant contribution to the state exchequer.


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