Friday, June 27, 2003, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


PEC eases eligibility norm
Do only Class XII from city for UT quota seat
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 26
With just a few days left for the admission process to start, the UT Administration has modified the eligibility criteria for seats reserved for Chandigarh students seeking admission to Punjab Engineering College.

Under the new guidelines, the earlier provision requiring candidates to have studied in Classes XI and XII from a school in Chandigarh to be eligible for a seat under the UT quota has been done away with. The new notification issued here today stipulates that candidates should have passed only the qualifying examination from a Chandigarh-based school.

Of the total seats being offered by Punjab Engineering College (PEC), 85 per cent are reserved for students who have passed the qualifying examination from Chandigarh schools. Prospectus and admission forms for admission to PEC will be available from July 1.

While the change in the eligibility criteria would be welcome news for some, questions are also being raised in some quarters over the motive behind the change because of the time at which the decision has been taken. The change comes at a time when the results of the entrance test have been declared and merit lists are being formulated.

Needless to say, it has some students worried. “Suddenly, those who were ineligible earlier have now become eligible and accommodating them would affect the merit of others,” a candidate for PEC remarked. “If the new entrants’ rank is good, the rank of others will slip down, and they may be deprived of the opportunity of a good branch or even their seat,” he added.

Senior functionaries of the UT Administration maintain that the decision is in line with the national policy, where students are required to pass only the qualifying examination from the sate concerned and studying two years in the same state is not mandatory.

A senior officer said the move was taken to solve the problem of some candidates who had passed the qualifying examination from Chandigarh, but had done their class XI from another state. “Such candidates were not eligible for admission to engineering colleges in any other state,” he added.

On the issue of timing, the official remarked that whenever a wrong could be corrected, it was not too late. “The decision is a good one,” he remarked.

Officials feel that the move would have a negligible or marginal effect on the merit lists as candidates would have exercised their choices after going through the information booklets at the time of applying for the entrance examinations. “The effect of the move would be more in the coming years,” an officer said. “There would be very few candidates this year,” he added.


50 pc posts lying vacant in PEC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 26
The prestigious Punjab Engineering College which was set up as a centre of excellence and is expected to get the status of a deemed university, ironically has almost 50 per cent of its faculty posts lying vacant. Of the total 158 sanctioned posts in various disciplines, 76 posts are vacant, thus affecting the quality of education.

There are only 82 regular faculty members, including 11 Professors, 27 Assistant Professors and 44 lecturers, on the rolls of the college. While 12 others continue to work on an ad hoc basis, two are working under the Early Faculty Induction Programme (EFIP), one on deputation and two others as Teaching Assistants.

The shortage of faculty has caused a setback to the image of the college. In the given situation, the college authorities are running the show by employing 40-odd teachers on contract basis. Sources reveal that nearly 50 per cent of these vacancies have been filled in the departments of electronics, computer science and information technology, keeping in view the larger number of vacancies there.

The sources say the faculty has been retiring every year but the posts have not been filled. While the UPSC has its own grounds for not filling these posts, few others cannot be filled due to ongoing litigation. As a result, the backlog has only increased.

The college Principal, Dr Baljeet S. Kapoor, while admitting to the vacancies said teachers hired on contract basis were imparting quality education. For the past two years, some of these vacant posts were being filled by recruiting ad hoc teachers. While the applicants, were screened by a committee headed by the Home Secretary, they also possessed the minimum qualification required under the notified rules of the government. They were paid the minimum of the basic pay scale in addition to 50 per cent of the DA and their contract was renewed every six months with a nominal gap of one day.

He said there was no other way to run the college with so many vacancies. With these 40 contractual appointments, there were only 17 posts lying vacant. Of these, 11 which had been forwarded for approval were likely to be filled next month.

Senior Professors in various departments when contacted said the UPSC should fill the posts at the earliest. They maintained that the litigation was mainly on account of the clause that no single post would be reserved for a particular category.

The Joint Secretary, Technical Education, Mr Vivek Atray, said cases of all appointments against the vacant posts had been taken up with the UPSC and these would be filled in the near future. Nearly seven-odd posts, which had been cleared by the UPSC sometime back, but were awaiting approval for want of clarification on the reserved category, would also be filled. The rules and regulations notified recently for these appointments had also been forwarded to the Ministry of Human Resource and Development for approval.

Some faculty members were of the view that now that PEC was slated as a deemed university, these appointments could be made in accordance with the norms prescribed by the All-India Council for technical Education (AICTE) and by the Ministry of HRD instead of the UPSC.


2,200 more jhuggis razed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 26
The Chandigarh Administration today removed another 2,200 jhuggis in Palsora Colony in the on-going drive which saw lobbing of two tear gas shells and use of mild force by the police on a mob opposing demolition.

A mob of around 25 youths allegedly started pelting stones but the situation was immediately brought under control, Additional Deputy Commissioner Inderjeet Singh Sandhu said here today.

A few of the slum-dwellers who vacated their jhuggis set on fire their dwellings in an apparent protest. The fire engines positioned there, however, doused the fire. The police picked up a couple of persons for setting jhuggis on fire.

The drive that continued till late in the evening has rendered thousands of people homeless, residents said.

Deputy Mayor and Congress councillor from the area Geeta Chaudhary, whom the police accused of supporting the mob, accused the police of ill-treating her. The Deputy Mayor denied the police charge, saying she was persuading the people not to resort to violence.

They reportedly belonged to Lal Bahadur Shastri Colony which is also scheduled to be removed.

The drive, however, would now be taken up after a few days, officials said. Around 15 acres of land is yet to be cleared of encroachment.

The Chandigarh Administration used seven bulldozers and eight JCBs in the drive.

The Shiromani Akali Dal led by Mr Gurpartap Singh Riar openly supported the Administrator, Justice O.P. Verma, in demolishing the illegal constructions and accused both the Congress and the BJP of supporting encroachment to change the Punjabi character of the city to win the Lok Sabha elections.

A BJP delegation met Deputy Commissioner Arun Kumar to demand that the houses should not be demolished till the people were provided alternative sites.

The delegation, however, praised the Administration to arrange for the rehabilitation of the displaced people who have been found eligible for rehabilitation.

The Scheduled Castes, and Scheduled Tribes wing of the Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee condemned the demolition drive and the alleged misbehaviour with the Deputy Mayor.


Jhuggis removed

Chandigarh, June 26
The Municipal Corporation yesterday removed around 30 jhuggis from Sector 35 in front of house No. 1000 in a drive. A resident, Ram Chander, whose jhuggis were removed said the jhuggis were removed despite all of them having their names added to the voters’ list before December, 1996. He said they even had voters identity cards. TNS



Encroachments by meat sellers removed
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, June 26
Within hours of Chandigarh Tribune carrying a news item on the encroachments by meat market shopkeepers next to the PUDA Estate Office here, the Estate Officer ordered immediate removal of the market.

According of sources, the Estate Officer ordered the removal of the market sheds in the morning.

The sources also stated that a written complaint had been received by the Estate Office from one of the municipal councillors regarding the encroachment.

The meat market shopkeepers had been removed from their unauthorised occupation of land in Phase I and Mohali village early this year. Since then over 40 shopkeepers had been moving from pillar to post for a suitable place to pitch their shops and start their business. Yesterday they had established themselves opposite the PUDA office here.


MC enforcement staff damage shop counter
Tribune New Service

Chandigarh, June 26
The Traders Association of Sector 21 today alleged that members of the enforcement wing of the Chandigarh Municipal had damaged the cash counter of a liquor shop and the counters of some other shops in the market here this evening. The enforcement staff, however, denied the allegation.

A Sector 19 police station official said a complaint by the shopkeepers was entered in the daily diary register. However, no complaint had been lodged by the enforcement wing.

Mr Radhe Sham, general secretary of the association, told TNS that the enforcement staff on the pretext of removing encroachments from the corridor in front of the shop damaged their material. Rajesh, the shopkeeper, alleged that the staff damaged the cash counter. He said around Rs 35,000 lying in the counter fell on the floor. and it was yet to be ascertained whether any part of the amount was missing.

The owners of the nearby shops also alleged mishandling of their material by the enforcement staff.

An official of the enforcement wing said the staff were doing their duty of removing encroachments from the corridors. He denied that the items of the shopkeepers had been mishandled.


Astrologer, aides held for fraud
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, June 26
The police today arrested nadi astrologer B. Raju, operating from a house in Phase VII here on charges of fraud. B. Raju and his three helpers predict the future of their clients by reading from ancient Tamil scriptures on palm leaves.

The four were arrested following a raid by the police at House Number 2262, their residence cum office in phase VII, based on a complaint of a resident of the township, Mr Kawaljit Walia.

B. Raju, however, stated that they were not frauds and were into astrology genuinely.

Clad in white clothes with sandal marks on the foreheads, the four were taken by surprise when the team of police accompanied by the complainant and a some journalists reached their house.

The complainant, Mr Walia, had brought the matter before mediapersons at a press conference just before the raid. Mr Walia stated that he had read about Raju and the nadi form of astrology in a newspaper and decided to give it a try. ‘‘I reached his office and was asked to give my thumb impression on a piece of paper after which they all went in to look for what they called my palm leaf. After half an hour, they came with a leaf and while one person read it out in Tamil, another translated it. Then they asked me several questions to which I was supposed to reply only in yes or no. I did so and then they went inside again and after another half an hour, they came out telling me that they had found my leaf.’’

‘‘They told me my date of birth, my parents’ name, my children’s names, my occupation. Then they charged me Rs 1,100 and told me about my future which included meeting with a major accident. I was very upset and asked them what I could do to avoid the bad future events. They told me of many ‘upayas’ which were to be undertaken in temples in South India but I was told that if I paid about Rs 8000, they would get it done in my name from here.’’

Mr Walia stated that he kept awake the whole night and reviewed his meeting with the astrologer. ‘‘I realised that they are misleading people, taking advantage of their insecurities. So I thought of a plan to catch and expose them.’’

The owner of a catering business, Mr Walia acted like a detective. ‘‘I went to them again the next day and told them that I wanted to shoot them for a TV channel coverage to which they happily agreed. They even told me that the most auspicious time for the coverage would be June 25 at 4.15 pm. So yesterday I went there with my son and the whole thing was shot on camera. I asked them many questions which left them flabbergasted and they did not know how to react,’’ he said.

The four, according to Mr Walia, do not have more than a single bundle of these leaves. ‘‘How can they claim to tell the future of the whole township with these handful of palm leaves? Moreover, they take advantage of the fact that we cannot understand what they talk among themselves in Tamil. Also when questioned in the absence of the other, they all come up with different versions of the same piece of information. There is no doubt that these persons are cheating the gullible public,’’ he said.

A case under Section 420 of the IPC has been registered against them.

Talking briefly to TNS just before being taken away by the police Raju stated that he had no idea of why he and his team were being arrested. ‘‘We just arrived here on June 12 and we have barely had a few clients,’’ he said.


Sportsmen seek representation in Rajya Sabha
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 26
The Union Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, has lent support to outstanding sportsmen and women of the country demanding representation in the Rajya Sabha against seats reserved for “persons having special knowledge or practical experience in respect of such matters as literature, art, science and social service”.

Mr Dhindsa, who raised the issue during his meeting with the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, before he went to China, has now written a letter to him to say that sportsmen and women, as a class, deserve to be given a break and representation in the Rajya Sabha, by nominating at least one of them against the seven vacancies that will take place on September 30.

Milkha Singh, the only Indian athlete to smash a world record, has written to the Prime Minister to seek an appointment to plead the case on behalf of the sports fraternity. “Some other distinguished sportsmen, including former Indian skipper Bishen Singh Bedi — president, Arjuna Awardees Association — tennis stalwart Ramanathan Krishnan and former track queen PT Usha, besides Mr Dhindsa and Mr Vijay Kumar Malhotra — Chairman, All-India Council of Sports — are likely to go in a delegation when we get an appointment with the Prime Minister on his return from China.

“I contacted Prime Minister’s Office before sending a formal letter this morning. We have been promised an appointment later this week,” Milkha Singh said.

It may be pertinent to mention here that it was The Tribune which had taken up the issue of representation to players in the Rajya Sabha against the seats reserved for artistes, writers, painters, sculptors and cine stars.

Milkha Singh said he had already met the Deputy Prime Minister-cum-Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, and told him that since the Constitution was adopted in 1950, not even a single sportsman or woman had been nominated to the Rajya Sabha. During this period, the country had hardly produced 500-odd Olympians who brought glory to the country and acted as its true ambassadors.

In his letter to Mr Vajpayee, Milkha Singh said though sports was the very basis of the health and physical well being of a nation, unfortunately the country had not given due recognition to its outstanding sportspersons.

Meanwhile, most of the sportstars of yesteryear, including Ramanathan Krishnan, Bishen Singh Bedi, Pargat Singh and several others have urged the President and the Prime Minister to nominate a sportsman, preferably Milkha Singh, to the Rajya Sabha to mark a beginning.


Jewellery worth 2.8 lakh stolen
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 26
Gold jewellery worth Rs 2.8 lakh has been allegedly stolen from house No. 1118, Sector 33, here. The victim, Mr Sanjiv Verma, has reported to the police that the occupants of the house were not at home when the burglars broke into the house.

A case under Sections 380 and 454 of the IPC has been registered at the Sector 34 police station.

In another case, Mrs Anupam Bajja, a resident of Sector 1, reported that two unidentified scooter-borne persons snatched her purse containing a mobile set, an ATM card, 20 grams of a white stone and Rs 12,000.


Om Puri returns to Patiala for a cause
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 26
For Om Puri, life seems to be coming full circle. Decades ago, when he took his flight to success, he was very much a part of Punjab, more so of Patiala, the place that gave him his mentor — Harpal Tiwana. Years later, the quintessential actor is back to his moorings — ready to offer to the region what he took from it.

By accepting the trusteeship of the Harpal Tiwana Foundation floated last year in Patiala with the objective of celebrating Punjabiyat, Om Puri has proved that he has not lost touch with his moorings. He still remembers to thank Tiwana for having given him the first break by accepting him in his Punjab Lok Manch and then showing him the road to the National School of Drama (NSD). No wonder, Om Puri attributes a major chunk of his success to Tiwana, who groomed him for three years before he moved to NSD.

Fondly referring to Tiwana as the the “Alkazi of Punjab”, Om Puri adds, “He was my father figure. From him, I not only learnt the art of acting, but also the art of managing life in adversity. I always admired his consistency and wished I could take that quality from him.”

The foundation, which also has Jagjit Singh as a trustee, aims to establish a museum to showcase the life and works of Harpal Tiwana; set up an experimental theatre fitted with the latest technologies and organise an annual national theatre festival from the next year. Also present on the occasion to announce the aims of the foundation was Harpal Tiwana’s son Manpal and his wife Nina. The focus of attention, however, was Om Puri, who was halting in Chandigarh on his way back from the shooting schedule of his next film ‘Lakshya’ at Leh.

Om Puri went on to talk about everything he feels concerned about as an actor. Indo-Pak relations figured prominently in his references, especially in the one where he said, “I would like to support cultural exchange with Pakistan, but not till the time Pakistan abandoned its double games. We all know that the Pakistani President did not visit Agra with a clear heart. While he feigned friendship, his troops were sabotaging peace at Kargil. I am not for a cultural exchange that is rooted more in treachery and less in trust.”

He also talked about the Indian cinema with indignation. “One ‘Lagaan’ cannot redeem us. There are numerous crude films that counter the goodwill ‘Lagaan’ has earned. We need to focus on the product which is doomed if the audience does not accept it.”

Attributing his success to Tiwana, Om Puri said, “I was devastated to hear about his death last year. He gave me everything by guiding me to the NSD.”

The rest, of course, is history. Om Puri went on to cast a spell in realistic cinema (‘Ardh Satya’, ‘Aakrosh’ to mention a few), besides films like ‘East is East’, which have international appeal. On what gives him the power to go on, he says, “If I am a tree, Harpal Tiwana was the man who planted it. He honed my skills to the level of perfection. He even took Punjabi plays to Bombay, Pune and Bangalore.” Strangely, however, Punjabi films could never make a headway.

Om Puri reasons, “Though there have been some incredibly rich productions like ‘Tamas’, Punjabi films have a long way to go. Punjab, being a war zone, remained lacking on the cultural front. Nevertheless, no film is considered complete unless it has a Punjabi song.”


Islamabad’s architecture more pragmatic
Sanjay Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 26
Islamabad is compared with Delhi in terms of a political power centre but resembles the sectoral design of the City Beautiful.

The two beautiful cities of South Asia are vying for a special status in design but Islamabad seems to have overtaken the larger and rule-rigid Chandigarh due to pragmatic architecture of the Pakistani city.

This was revealed by local MP Pawan Bansal, who has returned from a visit to Pakistan, in an interview with Chandigarh Tribune here today.

He said the smaller Islamabad makes a Chandigarhian feel at home. But the grandeur of the buildings of Islamabad is so striking that Chandigarh pales into insignificance, says Mr Bansal.

Karachi has its share of slums. Though illegal, the slums of Karachi were as good as planned places and had been approved by the government, he said. Development of these slums was taken up by the government-funded NGOs, he said. Their cost is lesser than the market price.

Mr Bansal, who assesses that Pakistanis have more goodwill towards Indians than what the people of India have towards them, says he would urge the governments of the two countries to immediately lift visa restrictions on journalists, students and faculties across the border.

He said a delegation of MPs, including of cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, is likely to visit the city in October instead of July as planned earlier.

The Indian delegation met politicians, ex-servicemen, traders and journalists to find that they also yearned for peace between the two countries.

Mr Bansal said informal talks with extremely fanatic leader Fazlur Rehman and All-Party Hurriyat Conference general secretary Mohhmed Shafi revealed that nobody was opposed to a dialogue for the resolution of the long-pending disputes between the two countries.

Mr Shafi in an on-screen discussion reportedly said he was opposed to the Pakistani occupation of Kashmir and the LoC was not acceptable. Mr Bansal said if possible, the two countries should allow journalists to work with each other’s newspapers.

He said MPs of the coalition government in Pakistan belonging to the Mohazir Quami Movement led by Altaf Hussain even indicated that if the relations between the two countries could be improved by putting Kashmir on “back-burner”, that would be acceptable.

The former Sindh Governor and close associate of Gen Pervez Musharraf, Mr Moinuddin Haider, attended the informal sessions with the Indian delegation reflecting the change in the attitude of the people of Pakistan towards Indians.

The ruling Jamate Islami, considered to be supporting for militant organisations, hosted a dinner for the delegation for the first time ever. He said journalists in Pakistan went gaga over the delegation and highlighted the positive signals between the people of the two countries.

Former Pakistan President Farooq Ahmed Lehghari, former premier Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi, acting President Mian Mohmmed Sungru, a former Director-General of the ISI and a former Army chief favoured a composite dialogue.


Gurcharan Singh’s murderer belongs to Ambala?
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, June 26
The mystery surrounding the murder of Gurcharan Singh, Chairman, Institute of Engineering and Technology, Bhaddal, deepened today with the Senior Superintendent of Police, Ropar, Mr Gurpreet Singh Bhullar, stating that they were also investigating a lead received by them through an anonymous letter, a day after the murder. The letter had named the murderer and stated that he belonged to Ambala, the SSP added.

A similar letter was also received by many of the newspaper offices in the city here tonight.

Although the letter received by the newspapers did not have the name of the person the writer says is responsible for the killing, but it stated that Gurcharan Singh was allegedly killed by or on behalf of an employee of a Kuwait-based company known to have terrorist links.

The typed letter explained that Gurcharan Singh had passed on over Rs 10 lakh to the employee on behalf of three former students of the college for giving, them jobs. But since no jobs were given, the students started pressurising Gurcharan Singh to return the money.

When Gurcharan Singh asked for the money from the Kuwait employee, he was allegedly abused and threatened and later killed.

The letter also stated that information regarding this was given to the police on Sunday along with the exact name and address of the culprit but the police had taken no action in the matter.

The SSP, Mr Bhullar, affirmed that they too had received a similar letter the day after the murder and according to that letter a person in Ambala was named as responsible for the killing. He stated that investigations into this particular lead were still on.


Students back chairman’s policies
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, June 26
Students of the Institute of Engineering and Technology, Bhaddal, today, came out in the open for the first time after the murder of the chairman of the institute Gurcharan Singh, stating that they fully support his policies as he had ensured that a good academic environment is created in the college.

Stating that there is no question of even a single student being involved in the murder of Gurcharan Singh, students said after the first raid on the college premises, the police has not questioned any student of the college.

Talking to Chandigarh Tribune at the residence of Gurcharan Singh in phase XI, here today, over 20 gathered to inform the Press that there was no unrest among the students of the college regarding the rural development fund collected over and above the annual fee of the college.

“A special meeting with the parents was called in 2001 to take their consent regarding the collection of this fund. And since all those who attended the meeting agreed to the collection of a fund for the development of the area, it was started.”

Giving details of the development works undertaken by the trust, Ms Kulvinder Kaur, wife of Gurcharan Singh, said over Rs 3 lakh were spent in donating buffaloes to widows of villages near the college. A stitching centre and libraries were opened for the benefit of the poor and the road leading to the college from Rangilpur was also carpeted and repaired from the rural development fund.

Recalling the dream of Gurcharan Singh, she said he wanted to make the college the best college in Punjab known for quality education and to say that the college was merely minting money from the students would be unfair. “Due to its progress, the college is exposed to rumours generated by colleges in competition which is unhealthy, specially during admission time,” she pointed out.

When asked if she was satisfied with the progress of the investigation into the murder of her husband, she said she had complete faith in the police and she was not sure about the exact stage of the investigations.


Housing societies get vacated land
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 26
The removal of the slums in Sector 49, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Colony, has its positive side. Five acres of land, valued at Rs 6.50 crore and vacated after the slum was removed, has been allotted to eligible group housing cooperative societies, thus giving about 200 middle class families their long pending due.

The Chandigarh Housing Board , has handed physical possession to members of five housing cooperative societies, which had been waiting the allotment since January 2001. The members of these societies had lost all hope of getting the physical possession of land, fearing political pressure.

While other societies have already started construction, these societies will not lag behind as trunk services, including sewerage and water supply, have been laid out in Sector 49-C where the slum colony existed.

The work for the construction of roads is progressing, well an official said. Sources, while explaining the real estate value, said each square yard was being sold at Rs 2700 to the societies.

The societies include the MI Staff Cooperative Society, the PUC Employees Cooperative Society, The Chandigarh Tenants Cooperative Society, the Chandigarh Punjab Vidhan Sabha Employees Cooperative Society and the Chandigarh District Court Employees Cooperative Society.


Shrine roof leakage worries DC
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, June 26
The seepage of water from the ceiling of the sanctum sanctorum of the Sri Mata Mansa Devi shrine here was the main issue of discussion at a meeting of the Sri Masta Mansa Devi Shrine Board today.

The meeting was chaired by the Deputy Commissioner-cum-member secretary of the board, Mrs Satwanti Ahlawat. Officials of the Public Works Department, the Haryana Urban Development Authority and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI ) were asked by Mrs Ahlawat to come up with a solution to the problem of seepage.

This seepage is reportedly damaging the 200-year-old murals made in eight panels. The ASI had begun the restoration and preservation work on these murals last year. Inspite of the treatment to prevent spoiling of these murals — depicting legends of Durga Saptshati, Mahabharata, Ramayana and the Krishan Leela — made on the outer walls, arches, inner walls and ceilings of the sanctum sanctorum, the problem has persisted.

Other than this, HUDA officials were asked to ensure that work on the musical fountain, to be set up in the Mansa Devi temple between the yagyashala and pujasthal, began soon. An estimate of Rs 23. 50 lakh has been made for the purpose.

The officials were also asked to make more development plans for the 10-acre land lying vacant, and for the over 57-acre land adjoining the shrine, to be acquired by the board. This land will be used for setting up a dharamshala, serai, etc for the pilgrims visiting the shrine. 


Water harvesting a resounding success in city
Vishal Gulati
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 26
Buoyed by the success of a rainwater harvesting project in Leisure Valley, the Chandigarh Administration has again requested the Central Ground Water Board of the Ministry of Water Resources to lend assistance in setting up such projects in Rose Garden and Shanti Kunj. In the valley, the Administration has constructed eight recharge structures with the scientific and financial assistance of the board.

With the investment of Rs 11 lakh, the Administration will get the benefits of water harvesting in the valley for the next 20 years.

The board’s Regional Director, North-Western Region, Dr M.D. Nautiyal, said: “Keeping in view the catchment area and the flow of water in the choe, particularly during the rainy season, the board had recommended to the Administration for utilising the runoff of the choe. This will not only help recharging the aquifer system but also controlling flooding in sectors”.

The trenches-cum-recharge wells and five check dams were constructed on the choe. The depth of the wells varies from 65 metres to 80 metres depending upon the aquifer. The trenches, which are three-metre deep, were filled with filter material up to two metres. The trenches will store water and filter it.

The catchment area, which is about 4.88 sq km, annually receives around 1,074 mm of rainfall. The choe is having water throughout the year and the discharge is about 300m3/hr. The leakage from pipes and overflow from drains is about 2.628 million cubic metre (mcm) annually. Similarly, the surface runoff will give another 0.786 mcm water. So the total water available will be 3.466 mcm. This amount of water is sufficient for recharging 2.628 mcm annually, explained Mr D.S. Saini, Senior Scientist with the board.

The board has also recommended to the Chandigarh Housing Board for constructing seven wells in the Mani Majra Housing complex, which will greatly help in solving depleting water table, said Mr G.P. Singh, another scientist.

A similar project was constructed on the roundabout of Sectors 19, 27, 20 and 30.

“As the City Beautiful is rapidly converting into a concrete city, the significance of water harvesting becomes greater. Even the water collected from rooftops of the buildings and houses, which is nearly silt free, can be harvested. At present, the water table is about 22 metre below ground level”, said Dr Nautiyal.


Platform: Save water

WATER is a precious gift of nature without which life, both human and animal, is not possible. Therefore, it has to be conserved. Due to drought, water has disappeared from wells, springs and ponds. Women with pitchers have to travel several kilometres from their homes in search of water.

At some places, water is sold while in others, wars are fought for access to safe drinking water. It is, therefore, very necessary to use water sparingly and not to waste even a drop of it.

Make water-harvesting structures in houses and in forests to store rainwater. Also, this should be used to replenish groundwater which is also decreasing rapidly.

Villagers should dig ponds to harvest rainwater for drinking by animals. There is a need to create awareness about water being a precious commodity which should not be wasted. For this, government and non-government organisations should join hands and run a campaign for conserving water.

In houses and neighbourhoods, plugging of leakages in water pipes should be taken up on priority basis. Also, using buckets and tumblers of water rather than hoses and showers to wash and bathe and reusing water used for washing vegetables to water plants will also go a long way in saving water.

Saira Sethi, Class V, Carmel Convent


Taj shopping plaza
Jaspal Bhatti

MAYAWATI is not to be blamed. If her government has sanctioned the construction of a shopping mall at a cost of Rs 175 crore, then she should be lauded because she has honoured the sentiments of lakhs of women who would lay down their lives in the name of shopping.

These days, as it is, we don’t believe in teaching history to our children. The youth of today may not have a clue about Emperor Akbar, but would easily find the Akbarally’s Mall in Mumbai even blindfolded. If they are asked, “Who has built the Taj Mahal?” some of them might even say, “We don’t know, but we do know that in a tea-ad, Zakir Hussain sits in front of the Taj, plays the tabla, sips tea and says, ‘Wah Taj!’”

Mayawati must have thought that children are no longer keen on visiting historical places. So it could be that if they go to the Taj Shopping Complex for a quick bite at McDonald’s or Pizza Hut, they might accidentally have a look at the Taj Mahal.

Union Culture Minister Jagmohan has scared Mayawati by asking her how she could sanction the work of the Heritage Corridor without seeking the prior consent of the ministry. Poor Mayawati, scared out of her wits, reassured Jagmohan that she had already asked for the work to be stalled before his intervention. Mayawati should have stood her ground crying out loud, “Shopping is the birthright of women!”

Jayalalithaa should also surround the Mahabalipuram temple with shopping malls from where she can select the choicest sarees and sandals.

In Delhi, if CM Shiela Dikshit also racks her brains, she can convert the grounds outside the Red Fort into a shopping plaza. This site can be auctioned to shopkeepers of Karol Bagh who deal in garments, sandals and jewellery. This will comfort lakhs of women who have such a tough time shopping in the overcrowded Karol Bagh.

In the coming days, one might come across a new ad of Zakir Hussain. After playing tabla in front of the Taj Shopping Complex, he will lift up his head and ask nervously, “Kahan gaya Taj (where is the Taj) ???”


6 hurt as vehicle overturns
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, June 26
At least six persons were injured in a freak accident near the level crossing at Mansa Devi Complex this afternoon. The driver could not control the vehicle as it went over the rail track and hit an electricity pole before overturning.

Subhash Arora (41), Sunita (29), Danish (11) and Pratiksha (11) were seriously injured, while Sandeep and Anita (35) escaped with minor injuries. The victims were rushed to the General Hospital, Chandigarh. While Subhash, Sunita, Danish and Pratiksha were admitted to the hospital and kept under observation, the others were discharged after preliminary medical aid. 


Man kills brother
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, June 26
In a case of fratricide, a 22-year-old resident of village Tabar village was hacked to death by his elder brother on the night of June 23 .The case came to light today, when a distant relative from a neighbouring village informed the police. Police sources say that the accused, Sukhbir Singh (27) suspected the victim Satbir Singh of having illicit relations with his wife. It is learnt that the two brothers had several fist fights over the issue earlier.

However, on the fateful night of June 23, the accused had a heated argument with his brother. In a fit of rage, Sukhbir picked up an axe lying nearby and charged at Satbir. Even as their parents tried to intervene and stop the fight, Sukhbir attacked his sibling on his head, chest and arms. Satbir then bled to death. The struggle had stirred the villagers out of their sleep and villagers gathered in front of the victim’s house. Even as Sukhbir, a history-sheeter, threatened the villagers with dire consequences if they reported the matter to anyone, his parents pleaded with the villagers to stay mum about the incident. The parents reportedly pleaded that they had already lost one son and did not want to lose the other.

Thus, it was unanimously decided to keep quiet and the victim was consigned to flames the next morning. As news of Satbir’s death spread, one of the family’s relatives, Jagdev Singh of Mauli village, went to mourn the death. Upon reaching the village, he learnt that Satbir had been murdered, and he later informed the police. A case under Sections 302 and 201 of IPC has been registered against Sukhbir Singh. 



M.S. bars recovered

Chandigarh, June 26
The police today recovered six quintals of M.S. bars from three youths who were planning to dispose it of. The stolen M.S. bars, valued at around Rs 26,000, were kept in a stolen truck ( HR-03-7435) . A police official said three labourers, Raj Kumar, Chander and Ashok Kumar, who were arrested, would be produced before the Duty Magistrate tomorrow. TNS


BSNL reverts to bi-monthly billing cycle
Tribune News Service


  • Bimonthly bills to BSNL landline subscribers in Chandigarh, SAS Nagar and Panchkula till further orders.
  • BSNL fails to issue monthly bills due to software problem.
  • BSNL WLL service within three months.
  • No free CLI service to over 60,000 subscribers.

Chandigarh, June 26
About two lakh telephone subscribers of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) in Chandigarh, SAS Nagar and Panchkula can now relax, though ‘‘temporarily’’ as they will not have to stand in long queues every month to deposit their telephone bills. The BSNL has decided that ‘‘till further instructions’’ the individual subscribers in Chandigarh, SAS Nagar and Panchkula will be issued bimonthly bills. This was stated by Mr R.C. Vaish, Chief General Manager, BSNL, Chandigarh, here today.

He said due to a problem in the computer software of the corporation, it was unable to issue monthly bills to all telephone subscribers. He said the BSNL headquarters had instructed that till further order the practice of bimonthly bills should be continued. He made it clear that corporate customers and high-end customers would, however, continue to get monthly bills. Similarly, PCO owners would get fortnightly bills as earlier, he said.

Mr Vaish said telephone subscribers would now get a collective bill for May and June, though they had been issued monthly bill for April. He denied that the decision had been taken under the pressure of the BSNL employees union, which opposed the practice of issuing monthly bills. The union had claimed that the BSNL would lose lakhs of rupees every month by issuing monthly bills due to higher expenses on stationery and distribution, besides putting additional burden on employees.

Mr Vaish claimed that Chandigarh was among the few cities, where the ‘‘Trichur’’ computer package was installed by a Kerala-based company. This billing package, he said, had limited options against the new package developed by Dot Soft company. This package is being used in other cities including Patiala and Jalandhar.

Mr Vaish admitted that due to inherent weakness of its Fetex exchanges in the Chandigarh North and South areas, it was unable to provide free value-added services like caller line identification (CLI) to over 60,000 subscribers. However, he said, the BSNL was providing that service to needy subscribers.

He said due to efficient monitoring and strict action against the defaulters, the BSNL was able to recover over Rs 7 crore from the defaulters in Chandigarh. The BSNL mobile subscriber base had already crossed 42,000 mark. The corporation was determined, he said, to increase its mobile base in the coming months. He said the BSNL WLL service would be launched in Chandigarh within next three months.


200 to take part in Canada Day ‘run for fun’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 26
Canada’s unification of all its provinces is celebrated as Canada Day on July 1.

Indo-Canadian Business Chamber is organising “Canada Day” celebration on July 1 in New Delhi under the aegis of Mr Man Mohan Bhagat, President of ICBC.

More than 200 dignitaries of various countries, including the Canadian High Commissioner and officers, will participate. Col B.S. Sandhu, CMD, WWICS and Mr Devinder Sandhu, Senior Director, WWICS, who are senior members of ICBC both in India and in Canada chapter, will also participate at Delhi.

This is the first time that an event both in Chandigarh and Delhi is being organised on such a large scale.

To celebrate the event in Chandigarh the WWICS has made elaborate arrangements for “Run for Fun” event on June 29 (Sunday) at Forest Hill Resort, Karoran village, behind Punjab Civil Secretariat, Chandigarh. More than 200 persons are expected to participate.


Car loan carnival
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 26
The State Bank of India, Sector 17-B, and PASCO jointly organised a car loan carnival in Sector 17 here today. The show was inaugurated by Mr J.P. Verma, general manager (D&PB), Chandigarh Circle.

Mr Verma during his inaugural address brought out special and exclusive features of bank car loan scheme. SBI and Maruti Udyog Ltd., have since entered into a national tie-up by using their synergies for building better symbiotic relationship.

The carnival attracted a large number of people interested in buying cars with SBI’s customer-friendly car loan scheme.

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