Saturday, May 31, 2003, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


MC set to lose crores
Anomaly in interest rates on deposits
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
The Chandigarh Municipal Corporation (MC) will lose crores in the years to come due to the difference in interest rates on general provident fund (GPF) deposits and public deposits in nationalised banks.

The interest rate on GPF deposits is 9.5 per cent while on public deposits, it is not more than 6.25 per cent in any nationalised bank. The difference between the two interest rates has put an additional liability on the corporation.

A senior official of the MC told Chandigarh Tribune that the money from the capital head of the GPF/pension account was invested in short-term loans to employees or mutual funds to gain interest, reducing the burden on the annual budget allocation. The cut in interest rates on public deposits had reduced this ‘balancing’ income, he said.

According to the details available from the accounts branch, the interest on total deposits of the corporation had decreased from Rs 171.02 lakh in 2000-2001 to Rs 140 lakh in 2002-2003. It was expected that due to the fluctuation in interest rates, the income of the MC through short-term deposits would come down to Rs 130 lakh by the end of the current financial year. The total interest earned in 2001-2002 was Rs 136.60 lakh.

The amount required to pay salaries to the employees of the MC increased from Rs 363.40 lakh in 2000-2001 to Rs 575 lakh in the budget estimates of the current financial year. The pension/GPF contribution increased from Rs 180 lakh in 2000-2001 to Rs 435 lakh in the budget provisions for the current financial year. The amount reserved for loans and advance payments to the employees in 2000-2001 was Rs 35 lakh, but due to financial constraints, this amount had been reduced to Rs 5 lakh during the current financial year.

When contacted, the Chief Accounts Officer of the MC, Mr H.S. Sood, said, “Since Section 77 of the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act permits the depositing of the amount pertaining to the corporation only in nationalised banks, it is not possible to invest the provident fund amount in privately managed funds. These have to kept in safe hands and no risk can be taken”.

“We are examining other schemes to earn more money from higher rate of interest. We cannot take any risk pertaining to investment in privately managed funds”, he added.

Mr P.C. Sanghi, a member of the Finance and Contracts Committee (F&CC), had said at a meeting that the investment could be made in the scheme of the PNB gilt fund. This advice had been turned down by the F&CC on the grounds that the money was not safe in this scheme.

In reply to a question, Mr Sood revealed that the MC had made a provision for Rs 100 lakh in the budget estimates for the current financial year to reduce the gap of losses due to the difference in interest rates. A senior official of the MC said the exact loss due to the difference in interest rates could not be worked out at this stage due to fluctuation in interest rates. “The exact amount of additional liability on the MC can be worked out by the end of the financial year”, he added.

The Chief Accounts Officer said the MC had saved lakhs by maintaining GPF account of employees in the Oriental Bank of Commerce. The bank had agreed to provide manpower and expenditure to maintain this account head, reducing the burden on the MC. “We do not require a separate branch to maintain these accounts of more than 6,700 employees”, he said.

Meanwhile, senior officials of the MC have decided to approach the Chandigarh Administration to compensate them for the loss in interest by giving an additional grant-in-aid. The employees transferred to the corporation will continue to get all service benefits they were enjoying before their transfer.


Syndicate okays hike in PU fee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
A sub-committee of Panjab University syndicate today accepted the proposal of the Punjab government for a substantial fee hike from the forthcoming academic session (2003-2004).

The ‘very’ hotly debated issue in the meeting, however, got a formal clearance, which means five to six times fee hike in certain cases. Prof K.N. Pathak, Vice Chancellor, is understood to have said that the university was not in favour of hiking the fee but there was no other alternative available at the juncture.

The Punjab Government in a letter of the Director, Public Instructions (Punjab) dated May 13 had communicated the revision of fees and funds being charged by government-aided and non-aided colleges and the state universities.

Prof Charanjit Chawla, Dr Dinesh Talwar and Mr Ashok Goyal today vehemently opposed the proposal for the fee hike and even recorded their dissent. Sources said that Principal S.C.Marriya and Principal Usha Gupta who also showed their reservations on the move, however, did not formally oppose the proposal which was moved by the Vice-Chancellor after the discussion. This meant Professor Pathak, Principal Marriya, Principal Gupta and the DPIs of Punjab and UT formed the majority and the bill was passed.

A student is now required to pay an admission fee of Rs 750 for the undergraduate courses, Rs 1000 for post graduate courses and Rs 1250 for M Phil and PhD courses. In addition, a student pays Rs 350 per month for the undergraduate courses as the tuition fee, Rs 550 per month for professional courses and Rs 650 per month for post graduate courses. This is as compared to the existing tuition fee of approximately Rs 70 in case of PU.

Students will also be required to pay enhanced amounts in case of amalgamated fund, annual charges, library, hostel charges, building construction, besides several others. The matter had come up before a committee a few days ago and the committee despite reservations from certain quarters cleared the fee hike. It was said that the committee cleared the fee hike because colleges are dependant on the government for the funds to support the financial activities, which include salaries for the staff.

The syndicate sub-committee clearance means the colleges are likely to go ahead with the hike. This is relevant in the context that they will be required to get their prospectus for the admissions in the new session completed a the earliest. This will be before the next Senate meeting where the hike will need a formal clearance at the last step before implementation.

Professor Chawla, opposing the hike, said that higher education was not a state subject and till date the government had made no notifications regarding any fee changes. The universities are formed under various acts of the state and the central government and had autonomy in their existence. The hike meant only more money for the government. It was burden on the students, parents and even the private college managements.

Mr Goyal said the university should first answer itself that when it could not regulate fee structure in its affiliated colleges earlier, it had no right to interfere even now. He referred to the prospectus of at least five different colleges and each college showed a different fee structure. Dr Dinesh Talwar said such a heavy fee hike meant a large number of students leaving the colleges and a number of teachers without work. “

Students threaten agitation

The Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad opposed the proposal for the heavy fee hike by Panjab University. A copy of the memorandum to this regard was given to members of the sub-committee of the syndicate which met today. Students said in case the university went ahead with the hike, they would be forced to hit the roads in agitation, Saurabh Joshi, secretary, said.Back


PGI Dean’s appointment challenged
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
Controversy revolving around the ‘jinxed” post of Dean at the PGI refuses to die down as the decision of the governing body to appoint Dr Sudha Suri as the new incumbent has once again been challenged in court.

It was at the May 12 governing body meeting, chaired by the Union Health and Family Welfare Minister, Mrs Sushma Swaraj, that a decision was taken to appoint the Head of the Radiodiagnosis Department, Dr Sudha Suri, as the new Dean. The Head of the Gynaecology Department, Dr Sarla Gopalan, has moved court.

The governing body, while appointing Dr Suri as Dean, appointed Dr Gopalan as Sub-Dean. Refusing to join as Sub-Dean, Dr Gopalan finally decided to move court. Incidentally, a case regarding a seniority dispute between Dr Suri and Dr Gopalan is still pending in court.

The post has remained embroiled in legal controversy ever since the appointment of Dr O.N. Nagi, Head of the Orthopaedics Department, as Dean. The post had fallen vacant after the Punjab and Haryana High Court set aside the appointment of Dr O.N. Nagi on January 10. Despite a special leave petition being filed in the Supreme Court, the decision of the high court was upheld.

Traditionally, the post of Dean has been held by the seniormost doctor at the PGI. Five doctors whose names were considered for the post, were Dr R.J. Dash, Head of the Endocrinology Department, Dr Sudha Suri, Dr Sarla Gopalan, Dr O.N. Nagi and Dr Pramila Chari, Head of the Anaesthesia Department.

“Despite being the seniormost doctor, Dr Dash was not selected as the Dean, on the plea that with his retirement due in August, the entire process of appointing a new person to the post would have to be undertaken within a short span," explained a PGI official.

With the matter being dragged to court once again, PGI circles feel that the controversy could have been avoided had Dr Dash been made the Dean. "Till Dr Dash's retirement, the case pertaining to the seniority dispute between Dr Suri and Dr Gopalan would have been settled, and the matter could have been settled amicably," said a senior doctor.

A section of doctors at the PGI said with the appointment of Dr Suri and the reluctance on the part of Dr Gopalan to join as Sub-Dean, it was a foregone conclusion that the matter would once again be under legal dispute.

The petition filed by Dr Gopalan, challenging the appointment of Dr Suri as Dean, will come up for hearing on July 7.


RIS, CRIID sign MoU on academic cooperation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
The Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) is highly asymetrical and is more favourable for the developed than the developing world, Mr S.K. Mohanti said during his presentation on “Agreement on agriculture: challenges and opportunities’’ at a workshop on the WTO: agriculture and intellectual property rights” organised jointly by the Research and Information System for the Non-Aligned and Other Developing Countries( RIS), New Delhi, and the CRRID here today.

It has become difficult for the countries of the developing world to penetrate into the most protected markets of the developed world — European Union ( EU), Japan and the USA. Agricultural subsidies have been increasing in these countries and at present the level of subsidies exceed the expected level of welfare gains from agricultural liberalisation.

Mr Mohanti said the non-tariff barrier standards differed from one country to another. The market strategy should be country-specific and India should search for possibilities of disinvestment in different markets.

He also stressed the need for the protected markets to radically liberalise the agricultural sector, particularly in terms of domestic support and export subsidy, to provide competition to the South East Asian countries. The accessibility of these markets to the developing countries would increase exports as compared to the imports, besides affecting an increase in prices. In fact, reduction of trade barriers would have a significant impact on the global prices.

The existing rules were stringent to the interest of the developing countries and these issues should be raised in the forthcoming Cancun Summit, starting from September 10. As a parallel institution we should work on regional processes which were compatible under Article 24 of the WTO rules.

Earlier, the RIS and the CRIID signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a view to promoting academic cooperation in the areas of international and development economics from the perspective of developing countries. It was signed between the CRRID Director, Mr Rashpal Malhotra, and the Vice-Chairman of the RIS, Mr S.T Devare, and shall be reviewed and evaluated only after three years.

The MoU would help provide inputs at the regional level to experts in Delhi.

In his inaugural address, Mr Paramjit S. Sahai said the theme of the workshop was of specific interest in this region as Punjab and Haryana comprised the agricultural belt.

Dr Sachin Chaturvedi made a presentation on “WTO: trade in GM goods and emerging IPR regime: Options before India.’’


Garbage piling up, complain residents
Monica Sharma

Chandigarh, May 30
Heaps of rubbish can be seen strewn over roads and streets in the city Sectors making it impossible for residents to move about in the absence of garbage-collection vans. This is not all. Doctors do not rule out the possibility of some disease breaking out in the city due to the unhygenic conditions.

The problem has worsened ever since a ban was imposed by the authorities in the city on the burning of garbage, including leaves and dry grass. A survey conducted by Chandigarh Tribune team revealed that the situation was “real bad” in the posh northern Sectors, including Sectors 10, 11, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22. The situation was more or less the same in the southern sectors, if not worse.

“Until a few months ago we used to set the garbage ablaze,” reveals a Sector 19 resident. Ranjan Ahluwalia. “But ever since we learnt from newspaper reports that the burning of leaves was strictly prohibited, we abandoned the practice”.

Agreeing with him, his neighbour, Dheeraj Verma asserts: “Since we are not burning the garbage, heaps of dirt have piled up in front of our houses.”

He adds: “We have a garbage-collector who comes to our house everyday for taking away the rubbish, but what do you do with the leaves? The sweeper comes and piles them up in one corner. It remains there for days together,” .

Denying the allegations of negligence and dereliction of duty, the Municipal Corporation authorities insist that they are facing an acute shortage of staff. “Initially we had over 1400 employees. The number, over the years, has gone down to just over 9,000 employees. In the absence of adequate manpower, it becomes extremely difficult for us to discharge our duties efficiently”.

The officer adds: “The possibility of the sweepers not collecting rubbish due to the ongoing dispute on privatisation cannot be ruled out.

“At present, the garbage collection work has been handed over to private contractors in some of the southern sectors, but unfortunately, the situation is not different in the northern sectors”, he adds. 


Mai lived up to his image
K. S. Raju

Savita, alias Mai Ambedkar, the second wife of Baba Saheb Bharat Ratna, Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar, is no more. I had the good fortune of meeting her twice in Delhi— once during a national seminar on April 15, 1991, to commemorate the birth centenary celebrations of Dr Ambedkar and again at the Ambedkar Foundation in New Delhi. I found her extremely affectionate, dynamic and enthusiastic for helping the poor, especially the downtrodden.

President A.P. J. Abdul Kalam, has rightly said, in his tribute: "She symbolised the virtues of dedication and sacrifice and was able to work for the uplift of the downtrodden while being at the side of the architect of our Constitution, Baba Saheb Ambedkar".

Baba Saheb had to marry twice. Once he was compelled to get married by tradition. Bhim was hardly 17 and his wife, Ramabai, was nine years old. It was after 1907 when he passed his matriculation. The marriage took place in an open shed of the market.

The early life of Bhim Rao was a saga of suffering, sacrifice and struggle. He was hardly two when his father Subedar Ramji retired from service. At the age of six, his mother Bhimabai died. He grew up in a ghetto. With benevolent help from the Maharaja of Baroda, he passed his BA in 1912. His father died early next year.

Thereafter, he left for Columbia for higher studies. He got his MA and Ph.D degrees from the Columbia University in 1915 and 1916 respectively. Later he did Bar-at-Law and D.Sc from London. He began his life as a barrister in 1923. He soon came to be known as the poor man's barrister.

One can well imagine the plight of his first wife Ramabai from 1907 to 1923. Her dedication and devotion to Bhim Rao was beyond description. She was a religious woman and thus a source of great inspiration. But it was short-lived. She left him when he had just started to peak in his career.

Dr Ambedkar was at the pinnacle of glory when he came in contact with Savita in 1947. Her first name was Sharda Kabir. A medical practitioner, she hailed from Doria village in Rajapur taluk of Ratnagiri district in Maharashtra. Her father was the Registrar of the Indian Medical Council.

She completed her schooling and early education in Pune and obtained her MBBS degree from the Mumbai Grant Medical College in 1937. Later, she shifted to Mumbai and started practice.

By that time, Bhim Rao had developed into a versatile personality with a brilliant mind, keen intellect, deep knowledge and scholarship. He strode on the Indian political and social scene as a colossus for several decades. He was appointed Labour Minister in the Executive Council of the Viceroy in June, 1942. He became the first Law Minister in Jawaharlal Nehru's cabinet.

He also became the Chairman of the Drafting Committee of free India's Republican Constitution. As the chief architect of the Indian Constitution, Dr Ambedkar's contribution will always be remembered.

During all these years, Dr Ambedkar worked day and night. He came in contact with Savitaji when he consulted her for treatment of diabetes and blood pressure. They got married on April 15, 1948, i.e on his 56th birthday.

Dr Ambedkar adopted Buddhism in 1956. He achieved nirvana on December 6, 1956. During all these eventful years, Savitaji took care of his health. After his death, she dedicated her life for the cause of the downtrodden for a long period of 47 years.

The writer is a retired IAS officer.


Electronic meters inflating bills’
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, May 30
Residents of Phase VII here have expressed resentment over the installation of electronic meters in place of mechanical meters, saying that the electricity bills have gone up by over 10 per cent following this change.

Admitting that the electricity bill has increased according to the readings shown by the electronic meters, which are more accurate, the PSEB authorities, however, said they would go ahead with the next phase of installations despite the protest.

The SAS Nagar circle of the PSEB had started the installation process early this year and has completed 25 per cent of the project. ‘‘More than 25,000 electronic meters have been installed already out of a total of about 1 lakh which have to be replaced,’’ said Mr S.C. Aggarwal, SE, PSEB SAS Nagar, adding that the second phase of the installation would begin once the electronic meters were made available to them.

Although there has not been an organised protest, yet many residents of Phase VII here are cribbing about the electronic meters. ‘‘These meters run fast. With the air conditioner on, one can see the way the meter changes its digits. I would much prefer the old meter,“ said Mr Akash Ghai, a resident of Phase VII.

Conceding that the electronic meters are accurate to the last point, Mr Aggarwal said, ‘‘Earlier mechanical meters, with their rotating discs, failed to record small consumptions of electricity, but these meters record even a 10 watt bulb. So the bill is likely to increase. In fact, these meters are being installed so that all hidden usage of electricity and power theft can be eliminated.”

Many residents feel that the electronic meters are ‘faulty.’ We receive complaints from residents that all electricity-run items in the house are off and still the meter is running. But it is not possible to switch off every electricity-run item unless the main switch is off,” said a PSEB employee.

Electronic meters are too expensive to be installed in one go in the town. “The next phase will take some time to start since we are left with no electronic meters,” said Mr Aggarwal.


India is a nation on holiday

CHUTTIYAN hi chuttiyan! In India there is a plethora of holidays, so much so that India is dubbed as a nation on a holiday. Presently, there are 26 national holidays (gazetted & restricted); 104 Sundays & Saturdays; numerous regional and local holidays in the name of small gods and goddesses, self styled satgurus, babas and maharajs. To this add the sick leave (30 days on half pay), casual leave (12 days) and annual earned leave (30 days) and, of course, maternity leave. In addition sudden holidays are announced on the demise of VIPs. Last but not the least are the days when government employees do not come for work due to heavy rains, bandhs, traffic jams, festival processions, elections etc. To sum up, the total number of holidays any employee can enjoy is more than half the number of days in a year, but he/she still gets pay for full 365 days. To cap it all, in some states eg Punjab, holidays are declared by the government on the drop of a coin, and sometimes two for one due to confusion created by mullahs or pandits.

It has been estimated that India has the shortest average working year at 1157 working hours annually, while the USA, the most advanced country, has 1913 working hours. Work ethos of our country is very low, which is further adversely affected by holidays and sudden closures. The entire system gets disrupted when a holiday is suddenly announced taking the entire nation for a ride. Work culture in offices due to chutti-oriented employees is far from satisfactory. In the months of April, October and November every year, disruption in government work is at its peak level due to increase in holidays, thereby holding our economy to ransom.

Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation, said,” To declare my birthday as a holiday would be classified as cognisable offence”. But even 55 years after his death, the nation has not liberated itself from the cancer of holidays.

If we have to develop our country, we must emulate work culture of advanced countries like USA and channelise our vast human potential for increased productivity and cut down drastically the number of holidays. In my opinion, there should be only six national holidays, — Republic Day, Independence Day, Divali, Baisakhi, Ramzan (ID) and Xmas. Further, five holidays should be optional or sectional. Saturdays may be declared full working days. No sudden holidays should be announced on demise of a VIP (past or present.

Wg. Cdr Gurmail Singh (Retd.), Chandigarh

Balanced Rent Act

I must thank Chandigarh Tribune for its unbiased stand on the manifold problems confronting landlords and tenants. The associations of tenants and landlords are queuing up to meet the new Governor and Administrator of Chandigarh, Justice O.P. Verma, to initiate steps to bring about transparency in laws governing sale and purchase of property (Chandigarh Tribune, May 26) and introduce a balanced Rent Act. There is no gainsaying the fact that before the repeal of the Rent Restriction Act in Chandigarh, the tenants had their way. And now they cry hoarse against the turn of the landlords.

Like society, the tenants are also good, bad and ugly. The bad and ugly comprising two-thirds have caused pain and humiliation to the landlords without any remorse. They are still not understanding the course of events which led to the amendment dated 7.11.2002 of the Rent Restriction Act. The “Balanced Rent Law” was the concept of courts. The Supreme Court in the case of parapati and sons vs. Allapati Jalaya had found the rent law as outworn and had held that on single property on rent over Rs 1000 pm, the Rent Restriction Law should be withdrawn and further held that the moment rent restriction goes, the tenant cannot claim protection under the law. Various High Courts also found the existing law as outworn and advised that rental law must be balanced and fair to both the tenants and landlords.

It was under these directions of the courts that the Central Government formed an expert committee to deliberate on the Balanced Rent Act. Their recommendations were further approved by Chief Ministers of all the states which were as under:

I. To introduce summary trial for disputes of rented properties by setting up special tribunals instead of civil courts.

II. To repeal the Rent Restriction Act with regard to the properties over a certain stipulated rent.

III. The old tenants shall pay the enhanced rents after amendment of the Act, calculated from the date of start of tenancy with an 8 % increase per year in the case of residential and 10 per year in the case of commercial property. The disputes of quantum of rent should be decided by the court within 15 days.

IV. The landlord should get at least 10 % of the market price of the property every year as rent.

V. The property tax shall be paid by the tenants or occupants of the property.

VI. Registration of Rent Agreement should be compulsory on payment of stamp duty and registration fee by the tenant.

VII. Failure to register the rent deed and non-payment of rent should be sufficient grounds for ejectment.

In Chandigarh it is noticed that the tenants are not reconciling to the change in law. Even now they are not getting lease deeds executed and registered, thus causing loss of crores of rupees to the Union Territory Administration. There is urgent need to speedily implement the recommendations made by the Chief Ministers on the subject. In the case of Chandigarh the limit of Rs 1500 needs to be scrapped.

Sapandeep Sharma, Chandigarh

Surrender before the Guru

I have read the news in your paper how Ms Mehjinder Pal Kaur is struggling to get a place for sewa inside Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple), Amritsar. According to Sikh doctrines, sewa is nobody’s right. It is a humble submission, surrendering the self before the Guru and then requesting sewa, and feeling contended. However, the way Ms Mehjinder Pal Kaur is demanding the right to perform sewa merely with the excuse of gender equation, is a show of ego and is not approved. It is not by rebellion, nor by fighting, that one gets the right to sewa. And now she is trying to get the youth to follow her movement by telling her story in a pathetic voice. Naturally, her feminine voice will arouse the sentiments of youngsters like that of a mother in trouble, and they may follow an entirely futile path by joining her in this struggle. What will they gain if the women get this right? They must be having their own agenda of struggling to become something in life. So why divert their attention to an ungainful struggle?

Instead, I may humbly suggest that women should start sewa at the door of the Guru i.e. at Joragarh (looking after the shoes of the sangat). Moreover, women must start sewa from other gurdwaras first.

My submission to Bibi Mehjinder Pal Kaur is that she should be a humble servant of the Guru and surrender her desire to the sangat like a true Sikh.

Daljit Singh Dhillon, Chandigarh

Tennis academy

I was surprised to see the report (Chandigarh Tribune, May 23) quoting me that the tennis academy being started by the All India Tennis Association (AITA) at Gurgaon would not be a success and that AITA had earlier failed in its bid to establish a similar academy at Delhi. I did not make any such observation. I have not visited the academy, nor have I seen its coaching and other organisational arrangements. I could never imagine making any such statement.

Kailash Nath, Chandigarh


Involve residents city’s beautification: Verma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
The UT Administrator, Justice O.P. Verma (retd), today underlined the need for involving residents in maintaining the beauty of the city. Expressing concern over loads of ‘malba’ thrown by residents here and there, he suggested to the Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, to evolve a scheme to lift ‘malba’ on a ‘no profit no loss basis’, even if the quantity is less than 25 per cent of a truckload.

He said residents should be asked to inform about ‘malba’ on telephone. After this, it would be the responsibility of the corporation to lift it at nominal charges. The scheme should be widely advertised through cable network and cinema slides and cooperation of residents welfare associations should also be sought, he said.

Regarding complaints of non-functioning of streetlights their remaining switched on during daytime, he suggested that the Administration and the corporation should install automatic timers to save

Expressing concern over increasing number of stray dogs in the city, he said more NGOs should be involved in sterilising stray dogs.


Shramdaan begins at Sukhna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
The annual Shramdaan — voluntary manual desilting of Sukhna Lake — began today with the usual fanfare as the UT Administrator, Justice O.P. Verma, led city residents to desilt Sukhna Lake by formally inaugurating Shramdaan-2003 at the regulator end.

As many as 1,000 persons, including students of Punjab Engineering College, Government Senior Secondary School 44, staff of the U.T. Engineering Department, Printing and Stationery Department, and officials of the Haryana Government, participated. Some volunteers of nearby villages, including regular shramdaanis, participated in the desilting of the lake.

After inaugurating the shramdaan, Justice Verma took a round of the catchment area and inspected various arrangements made for the desilting work.

Besides the manual shramdaan, the Engineering Department, the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh, the Bhakra Beas Management Board and the Army have provided eight earth-lifting machines, a tractor and 18 tippers ( trucks which carry silt). Every day around 40,000 cubic feet of silt is being removed mechanically from the bed of the lake. Though the manual sharamdaan started today, mechanical desilting is being done since March 18.

Sukhna Lake was built in 1958 with a surface area of 565 acres. However, due to accumulation of silt, the area has been reduced to 340 acres. Shramdaan was started in 1988 and since then it has been a regular feature.

Last year, about 10.22 lakh cubic feet of silt was removed by way of mechanical and manual shramdaan. Till now about 18 lakh cubic feet of silt has been removed.

ICICI Bank, Chandigarh, distributed around 500 caps to encourage the shramdaanis whereas refreshment and sweet milk were provided by CITCO and Talwar Dairy. The Chandigarh Lalit Kala Academy, led by its Chairman, Mr Shiv Singh, organised a photo exhibition relating to shramdaan. During the shramdaan artists of the academy will make sculptures of clay on the theme of shramdaan so as to encourage more and more volunteers to come forward for the cause of Sukhna Lake.

During the shramdaan, officials of Haryana, Punjab, the Central Government Panjab University, FCI, boards, corporations, the CSIO, banks, NGOs of the city and students of different colleges and schools are scheduled to participate.

Among others present on the occasion were the Adviser to the Administrator, Mr Virendra Singh, the Home Secretary, Mr R.S. Gujral, the Finance Secretary, Mr Karan A. Singh, the Municipal Commissioner, Mr M.P. Singh, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Arun Kumar, the Chairman, CITCO, Mr G.K. Marwah, the MD, CITCO, Mr S.P. Singh, the Chief Engineer, Mr Puranjit Singh, and the DPI (Colleges) Mr Dilip Kumar.

Directions to staff on Sukhna ‘shramdan’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
The Haryana Government today directed all heads of departments and managing directors of boards and corporations to ask their staff to participate in the “shram dan” at the Sukhna here with the same spirit they showed to the programme during the previous years.


Re-open super bazars: JD-U
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
The local unit of the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) has urged the Administrator, Justice O.P. Verma, to immediately re-open super bazars closed for liquidation and revoke the termination of 204 of its employees to honour a court order.

The demand was made in a memorandum submitted to Justice Verma by a party and employees’ delegation led by the JD-U president Surinder Bharadwaj, Mr Bharadwaj told a press conference here.

Mr Bharadwaj alleged there had been an embezzlement of Rs 28,58653.64 after super bazar units were put under liquidation process as admitted in a report of the liquidator.

He alleged that the culprits of this scam were still at large despite a CBI inquiry into the embezzlement.

Mr Bharadwaj said the Chandigarh Administration was even flouting court orders against the closing down of super bazars.

The JD-U president said it was unfortunate on the part of the Chandigarh Administration that not even a single bureaucrat, who had been given numerous representations about corruption in super bazars, had sought any clarification from the super bazar administration despite Vigilance and CBI inquiries about certain tainted employees.

Mr Bharadwaj said the families of the retrenched employees were starving due to a faulty decision of the Deputy Commissioner-cum-Registrar of Societies.

He alleged the super bazar had been under the control of the Chandigarh Administration since its inception in 1967 and losses were caused allegedly due to corruption in the organisation.


3 physically challenged youths find guardian in cops
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
Hope and faith sustained them at a time when the going was tough and their world was inhabited by insensitive souls mocking at their disability. Three physically challenged youths have finally found their guardian angels from the most unexpected quarters — the UT Traffic Police.

Under a special programme launched by the police, inmates from the Cheshire Home, Sector 15, have been provided the job of manning the pre-paid autorickshaw booths outside and inside the PGI.

Confident that they are doing a good job, Amarjeet (22) says,” Based on our work and handling of these booths, the police will extend this programme to others like us and they will be given charge of booths at the bus stand and railway station gradually. It feels good that they trust us to deliver the goods and that we would be instrumental in providing openings to our brethren.”

Carrying out their duties in eight-hour shifts during the day, these boys have been exempted from duties at night to avoid any inconvenience to them. At night, the constables take over till early morning and are around to help even during the day.

All praise for the efforts of the police to rehabilitate him, Balwinder Singh, suffering from polio, adds,” Their backing has built up our confidence and we are enjoying our work. They are at our disposal all the time and keep dropping in to check if all is well. With them on our side, we have nothing to fear. My only dream was to stand on my feet and the police has helped me realise it.”

No longer a burden for his family, Rajinder Kumar, afflicted with polio in both his legs, says this job has given a new lease to his life.” The satisfaction that I am earning at a time when job opportunities are few has contributed to building me up. While this programme of the UT police has benefited us, the profit is two-fold. The people frequenting the PGI are no longer worried about being overcharged and ensured reasonable rates prevail,” he explains.

The service by the UT Traffic Police didn’t end at providing them with jobs. They got special booths built from sponsors and ensured the workers were comfortable in their new surroundings. It’s been almost a month since the project took off. The three employees, working on daily wages, are quick to add,” Good days seem to fly past while bad days seem to stretch till eternity. It seems just yesterday when we came to work at the booths. Now, it’s been a month. Seems unbelievable and unreal.”

Their in charge at the Cheshire Home, Sector 15, Major Gen A.S. Kahlon (retd), says,” The idea was initiated by the then UT Administrator, Lieut-Gen JFR Jacob. It has finally seen the light of day and I’m glad to see them working. As it expands, more of such people will be rehabilitated. I give all credit to the SP Traffic who has given shape to the project.”

Living up to their motto, the UT Traffic Police has shown through this gesture of theirs that they really do care.


Busy day for Fire Dept
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, May 30
It was one of the busiest day of the season for the Fire Department here. Having averted three major tragedies today, the evening ended with the fire officers saving the life of a five-year-old child at a Phase X house.

Five-year-old Kiwia, was inside her room on the first floor of house No. 1695, Phase X, when the electricity meter in the stairs caught fire making her room inaccessible. The fire tenders were called which extinguished the fire and rescued the child.

Another fire tender of the township was still on the job till the filing of this report at C-44, Industrial Area, Phase VIII here, where a large part of a ground has caught fire. “The firemen are facing great difficulty as the fire is spread over a large area. Moreover, the ground is littered with junk which is also fuelling the fire,” said Mr D.S. Dogra, Sub-fire Officer, SAS Nagar.

Earlier, the department was asked for a fire tender to help the Dera Bassi fire office in controlling a fire at the Dera Bassi Spinning Mill here in the afternoon. This fire continued to rage for more than two hours before it could be brought under control. The extent of damage is not known.

A major fire broke out in Lakhnaur village on the Landran road. A set of kuccha hutmets were engulfed in the fire and gutted. Although no life and property were destroyed in the fire, it took two fire tenders from the SAS Nagar fire office and one from Chandigarh to control the fire.

“This was the biggest fire of the day and could have led to a major tragedy as it happened in a residential area where people were sleeping unaware of what was happening around” said Mr Dogra.


Splash, but with caution
Monica Sharma

Chandigarh, May 30
Take care before you leap — that is the advice doctors all over the city are offering to the swimmers plunging in the pools, besides nearby streams and rivers, for beating the summer heat.

Do not swim during thunder storm or when you are tired. That is the first suggestion. “It takes a lot of effort and energy to swim. No doubt about it,” says a private physician. “So you should not swim if you are already exhausted because it can lead to medical and physical complications”.

Giving details, she adds, “The muscles are already fatigued so you cannot put full force into the strokes. As such the danger of drowning, specially in a river, is always there. This is not all. The fear of drowning never leaves the swimmer. Anxiety, we all know, can lead to trouble”.

You should also avoid swimming if you are under the influence of medicines. “Some drugs, including cough syrups containing anti-allergic, can make you delirious and slow your reflexes. “Accidents are known to have occurred under the influence of medicines”.

Another thing. You should avoid plunging in the water if you have been over exposed to the sun or immediately after having a meal. “Blood is diverted to the stomach to aid digestion soon after you have gulped a heavy meal. As such jumping into the pool instantly after having food can make you unconscious”.

Never ignore “no swimming sign”. It is meant for your safety. You should be aware of the fact. Also, beware of the problems lurking in the water.

Avoid slippery surfaces lest you fall and bang your head before drowning. You should also look for projecting objects, besides floating or under water obstructions.

Misjudging the depth of the pool is another pitfall. Sometimes the divers just do not realise that they are jumping from height into a shallow pool, leading to accidents. “This happens specially if the depth markings are ineligible,” the doctor asserts.

Do not go swimming if the lighting is poor. Also make sure that there are life guards around in case you are a beginner. Moreover, you should never leave the children unattended. It is a dangerous practice.

Do not waste time trying to empty water out of a drowning person’s lungs. Call up the doctor or take the victim to a hospital in case he is facing difficulty in breathing or is not breathing at all.

Meantime, get air into his lungs with the “kiss of life”. It is essential. Do heart massage, if necessary. As soon the victim begins to breath, turn him on his stomach to expel water.


Solar eclipse today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
There will be a solar eclipse tomorrow. The eclipse will be partial and non-central. The eclipse will begin at 7.33 a.m. local time. Its impact will be greatest at 8:07 a.m.

The eclipse will end at 8:43 a.m.

Disclosing this to Chandigarh Tribune, Mr Pradeep Mahajan, Director, Northern Cross Astronomical Observatory, said he had made arrangements for people who wished to see the eclipse safely in his observatory at SCF 24, Sector-16D (telephone No 770736).

He advised the people not to view the solar eclipse with the naked eye or through optical devices such as cameras, binoculars or telescopes without proper solar-filters.


Police files challan in spying case
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, May 30
The UT police today filed challan against three persons, including a Pakistan national, who were arrested on spying charges. The challan against Abid Mehmood, Abdul Wahid and Mohammad Arif was filed under the provisions of the Official Secrets Act and Foreign Act.

Meanwhile, one of the accused Abid Mehmood, a Pakistani national, has filed three applications through his counsel for directing the Superintendent, Model Jail Burail, and Medical officer to provide proper medical treatment to him and also to the UT state for supplying translated copy of the challan in English.

Abid stated in the application that the prosecution has supplied the copy of challan which contained many documents in Hindi and Punjabi. Since he is a Pakistani national and does know Hindi or Punjabi and can read Urdu and English only. The police had claimed that several incriminating secret documents had been recovered from the possession of three accused.Back


Vehicles stolen

Chandigarh, May 30
Two vehicles were stolen in two different incidents in the city. Dinesh Pal, a resident of Sector 22, complained that his car (CH 01D 5772) was stolen from outside his house on the night intervening May 27 and May 28. A case under Section 379 of the IPC has been registered at the Sector 17 police station. In another case, Sikander Singh, a resident of Sector 45, reported that his Hero Honda motorcycle was stolen from Kabari Market, Burail. A case has been registered at the Sector 34 police station. TNS

Sudharshan Aneja, a resident of Sector 39, complained that he was hit by a car (CH01 Y4072) while driving a scooter in Sector 40. The scooterist received minor injuries. A case under Sections 279, 337 and 427 of the IPC has been lodged with the Sector 39 police station. TNS


Five held
The police has arrested five persons — Mukesh Kumar, Suresh Kumar, Krishan Lal, Khajan Chand and Sanjay — on charges of gambling at Yavanika Park in Sector 5 and recovered Rs 4350 from them. TNS

Dowry case
The police has booked Pankaj Verma, Ram Aasra, Seeta Devi, Anuj Verma and Anuradha on charges of harassing Meenakshi for bringing insufficient dowry. Meenakshi is the wife of Pankaj Verma. TNS


Liquor seized
A person was arrested on the charges of liquor smuggling today. The suspects, Suraj Pal, a resident of the unauthorised colony in Sector 69, was found carrying 100 pouches of whisky in a sack from Chandigarh to SAS Nagar. TNS


CII’s seminars draw good response
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
Alternatives 2003, CII's career and education fair, is hosting interactive seminars for students and career aspirants on opportunities in areas such as advertising, retailing, hospitality, fashion designing, new emerging career trends, armed forces, education options and careers abroad, IT-enabled services, banking, finance and insurance, entertainment and employment market dynamics. The seminars are being addressed by professionals and academicians.

Today's session on education options and careers abroad, addressed by Mr Devinder Sandhu, senior director, Worldwide Immigration Consultancy Services Limited India, and Canadian Institute for International Studies, as well as group companies in Sharjah, Toronto, Dubai and New Jersey, drew an enthusiastic response. Sessions on careers in fashion designing, new emerging trends and careers in the armed forces were well attended.

Tomorrow's opening session would focus on careers in IT and IT-enabled services. Mr Rajesh Pandey, HR head of Quark Media House Private Limited, SAS Nagar, would chair the session. He has worked with a number of IT companies and is a visiting faculty to a number of management institutes.

Mr Manoj Chawla, general manager, Hero Mindmine, would also address this session. He has over 18 years of experience in sales, operations, business and channel management.

Different facets of the world of entertainment would be explored in the session on entertainment. Mr Biju D, vice-president, Media and Entertainment of Maya Academy of Advanced Cinematics, Mr Charanjit Singh, executive director, Radio Buzz, and managing director, CorePR, and Mr Hardeep Chandpuri, radio jockey, Radio Buzz would share their experiences. Careers in banking, finance and insurance and employment marketdynamics would be covered in other sessions during the day.


Bring transparency in sale, purchase of property’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
A deputation of the Chandigarh Nagrik Sabha today met the adviser to the Administrator of Chandigarh, Mr Varinder Singh, and submitted a memorandum calling for immediate steps to bring about the transparency in the administration of property in the UT by introducing changes in the bylaws governing the sale and purchase of property.

The deputation consisting of Mr Chaman Lal Sharma, Tejbans Singh Jauhar and Amarjit Singh Sethi, president, vice-president and general secretary of the Chandigarh Nagrik Sabha, respectively, said the active interest being taken by the Administrator in the affairs of the city was most welcome.

They, however, sounded a note of caution on his reported instructions to the officers of the Chandigarh Administration for curbing sale of property using power of attorney to prevent loss of revenue and plug the loop-holes.

The memorandum urged to him to make all properties including industrial, residential and commercial, transferable by charging a conversion fee in case they had been alloted 10 years ago or earlier. This will curb sale by power of attorney and bring revenue to the Chandigarh Administration by conversion charges, un-earned increased and stamp duty.


Entrepreneurs for setting up call centres
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
Entrepreneurs of the region have shown keen interest in setting up call centres in Chandigarh and SAS Nagar. This was the consensus that emerged at a conference organised by the Society for Promotion of Information Technology in Chandigarh under the aegis of the Department of Information Technology, Chandigarh Administration, and the Software Technology Parks of India, SAS Nagar.

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