Wednesday, July 9, 2003, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


RLA gives reprieve on RC issue
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 8
Waking up from its slumber, the Chandigarh Administration has found a way out of the problem of changing addresses in the registration certificates (RCs) of vehicles. The Public Relations Department, in a press statement today, said ‘‘keeping in view the rush in the office of the Registration & Licencing Authority (RLA), the Chandigarh administration has decided to give specific dates on the applications itself to those applicants who could not be entertained for change of address on a particular day.” It means that the last date for registration has been extended for an indefinite period provided the applicants have got dates on their applications to effect changes in the RCs.

Meanwhile, the administration has urged the traffic police to take a lenient view and not challan persons who have been asked to come to the RLA on a specific day. On that date, the change of address will be done in their RCs. However, the extraordinary rush continued at the RLA office. Interestingly, the RLA office had put up 14 counters and assigned about 30 employees to deal with the rush. But by the evening, a senior officer, admitted only about 300 persons could be registered for the change of addresses today.

Mr Arun Kumar, Deputy Commissioner, Chandigarh, said, ‘‘Due to physical limitations to deal with the rush we have taken this decision. Earlier, about 100 persons used to come to the RLA office, but now we have to deal with 700-800 persons every day. So a decision has been taken that those who have got dates on their applications by July 12 will not be challaned.’’

Another official at the RLA office said: ‘‘Due to the decision of the higher officials and the strange provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, we are finding ourselves in a difficult situation. We can neither deal with the rush within a limited period nor is the administration ready to reverse its decision.’’

A visit to the RLA office showed that people were standing in queues for hours together. The official admitted that they could not issue more than 300 registrations with changed addresses in a day. But there were about 600-700 persons standing in the queues. Mr Sunil Bhardwaj, a bank employee, claimed, ‘‘I am standing in the queue since 8 am, but even at that time about 50 persons had reached here. Someone should press upon the administration to find out a way to resolve the issue.’’


Move losing momentum?

The heavy rush in the RLA office and the number of parked vehicles on nearby roads may convince one that the move to register the actual residence of vehicle owners on RCs has been successful. But enquiries reveal that not even 2000 persons have so far registered their new addresses on the RCs.

Fact File

  • Few people with registration number of other states have taken NOC.
  • RLA asks all PU and college students, residing over six months, to get NOC from their home town and get new RCs from here.
  • Army and bank employees with transferable jobs seek exemption from the drive.
  • Insurance companies not ready to cooperate.
  • Will Punjab and Haryana VIPs residing here change their RCs?

Officials admit that the number of eligible applicants could be anywhere between 70,000 to 1,00,000 out of about two lakh vehicle owners in the city.

According to the Traffic police, between January and April 2003, it had issued 19,577 challans for violation of traffic rules, collected fines directly from 12,999 vehicle owners and sent 6,897 challans to the court.

Out of these, 6,490 traffic violators were fined by the court, leaving behind just 407 persons, not even 0.05 per cent of the total vehicle owners that could not be traced at their addresses.

The officials admit that the Punjab and Haryana Governments have declined to cooperate with the Administration, so the move could soon lose its momentum. Further, a section of vehicle owners were changing addresses in the insurance papers to bluff the Traffic police.


Medical, engineering seats for sale
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 8
An admission racket in professional courses, including medical and engineering institutions in different states, has been unearthed by the Chandigarh Police. After the Maharashtra Government ordered a high-level inquiry into the racket of admissions in medical colleges, the city police is likely to reveal an inter-state scandal involving crores of rupees.

Many institutions under scanner

A number of medical and engineering institutions in the region are under the scanner of investigating agencies for accepting huge donations in the name of admission fee. Though very few people came forward to complain against such institutions and managements, inquiries reveal that the source of income of persons who bought the seats, including bureaucrats, businessmen, medical fraternity and big landlords, could also come under the scanner of the Income Tax and the Vigilance Department. The role of the regulatory authorities has also come under the spotlight.

After preliminary investigations, a case of cheating has been registered against two Sector 20-based persons, Bhagirathi Singh and Milkha Ram, who were accepting money, ranging between Rs 20 lakh and Rs 35 lakh, from each student on behalf of some medical and engineering institutions in Punjab and other states. Sources revealed that several students had secured seats in engineering colleges and a batch of students were waiting to get medical seats through the well-oiled racket.

The sources said the police was trying to ascertain the name of beneficiaries. However, there was likelihood that the actual amount of money paid as donation was much more than the receipts issued by the respective institutions. A police official said the investigation was focussed on a group of persons who were collecting money in the name of donations and promising them admission in professional colleges.

Inquiries reveal that the professional colleges had to submit their fee structure to the Centre and the respective state governments. After a judgement by the Supreme Court, the Medical Education Regulatory Authority (MERA) and the Education Institutions Regulatory Authority (EIRA) were set up by the government to regulate the engineering and medical education. In its order, the Supreme Court had “freed” the fee from the state control but had said that capitation fee was illegal and barred colleges from profiteering.

In the case registered by the crime branch, investigating officials were probing how some of the professional colleges were over charging the fee in the name of donations and whether the seats being sold were beyond the sanctioned strength. On the basis of information provided by the two suspects, the police was trying to contact professional colleges in other states. The sources said a number of students from the city and neighbouring towns had secured seats in professional colleges after paying “donations” over and above the prescribed admission fee.


Cable operators fall to MC pressure
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 8
Cable operators of Chandigarh have started depositing dues of tax imposed on them by the municipal corporation on the account of ground rent for fixing poles and laying wires on the municipal land.

A senior official of the MC said more than 30 cable operators had deposited a part of the tax imposed on them, which was pending since 1999.

At least Rs 40 lakh is pending against the cable operators on account of this tax. The MC had thrice issued notices to them in the past couple of months to clear their dues.

Fearing uprooting of poles and cable wires, following the final notice issued to them last week, more than 100 cable operators joined hands to strengthen their association and solve the issue with the MC authorities.

Today, a delegation of the association, led by Mr Amarjit Singh Walia, president of the association, met senior officials of the MC in the presence of Mayor Subash Chawla to discuss the issue.

After a discussion of about an hour, the cable operators agreed to pay the tax within a week, said a senior official of the MC who was present at the meeting.

During the meeting, members of the delegation of cable operators expressed that the cable operators of the city were not against paying the ground rent but wanted that the ‘tax should be charged nominal and rational’.

Mr Chawla agreed to constitute a committee to look into the points of the cable operators. “As per the mutual understanding reached between the cable operators and the MC, the cable operators have deposited a portion of the tax imposed on them since 1996. They have agreed to deposit rest of the amount in the coming week”, said the Mayor.

The cable operators are being charged Rs 1,000 per month as ground rent for fixing the poles on the municipal land. “Every cable operator owes at least a sum of Rs 40,000 to the MC. They have never come forward to pay the tax so far, until the notices were served upon them during the past couple of months”, said an official of the accounts department of the MC.


New CTU buses stand unoperational
CTU unions allege daily loss of Rs 2 lakh
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 8
About 35 new buses, recently included in the fleet of the Chandigarh Transport Undertaking (CTU), have become a major cause of tension for members of CTU unions.

Official speak

While the confusion over the status of newly fabricated CTU buses continues, the Director, Transport, Mr Amarpal, clarifies, “The buses are not to be added to the existing strength of the CTU. They are only meant to replace old buses. So there is no question of a loss of revenue because the CTU has its original fleet strength of 471 intact. Some buses are not being sent on route because their fabrication is defective. They will be released only after a high-power fabrication committee tests the buses and clears them for roads. We are more concerned about the safety of passengers.”

On some account, the 35 buses in question, although included in the CTU fleet, have not yet been sent on route. Most of these are long-route buses, if sent on route, will fetch the CTU a daily revenue of about Rs 2 lakh. The buses are, however, still standing unoperational in the two Chandigarh Transport Undertaking workshops in the Industrial Area. While some buses (numbers 5892, 5894, 5897, 5899, 5903, among others) are parked in CTU’s depot number 2, the rest are in the depot number 3.

Although it has been over 20 days since the buses were included in the CTU strength and were, reportedly, even cleared for routes by experts of the mechanical committee, constituted to test the newly fabricated buses, they have been detained in the depots for some reason. Where officials maintain that the buses are yet to be cleared of major defects, union members say the said defects are minor and the buses have been passed by experts appointed to inspect them.

The issue has assumed significance in the light of allegations raised by CTU unionists, who say that by remaining unoperational, each bus is causing a loss of Rs 2 lakh to the CTU’s revenue, daily. Irked over the alleged illegal detention of buses by the authorities, representatives of three main CTU unions, namely the CTU Workers Union, the CTU Employees Union and the CTU Employees and Workers Union, even dispatched a written complaint to the Home Secretary, UT.

The complaint dated July 2, says that about 35 buses, which are newly fabricated, are standing unoperational in the workshop since 12 days and have not been sent on route. “Due to this, the CTU is suffering financial loss of about Rs 2 lakh daily. You are requested to kindly look into the matter and get the same investigated by a responsible person,” it reads. A copy of this complaint has been forwarded to the Director, Transport, UT.

Although action on this letter is awaited, independent enquires reveal that the buses in question were indeed cleared by the mechanical wing some days ago. The Motor Vehicle Inspector had also passed them for routes. Officials, however, maintain that the buses are still defective.


Beat police to keep watch on public land
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 8
In view of the anti-encroachment drive launched by the Chandigarh Administration in the city, the Chandigarh police has been asked to keep vigil on the land which has recently been cleared of encroachments. Any effort by encroachers to repossess the land will also be checked by the police.

On the directions of the UT Finance Secretary to all government department to check encroachments in their land, the Senior Superintendent of Police has directed the area DSPs and SHOs to brief their beat staff on the issue.

The PCR staff have also been asked to keep an eye on the land which had recently been freed from encroachments.

Sources in the Police Department said the Finance Secretary in a recent order had said that the head of institution of government department should be responsible for ensuring protection of government property.


8 taxi stands removed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 8
The Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh today removed eight taxi stands operating illegally without permission from the municipal land.

A senior official of the MC revealed that a team of officials from the road wing today carried out the drive to stop unauthorised functioning of taxi stands in the city.

Eight taxi stands were removed from Sectors 9, 26, 27, 20, 22 and Industrial Area, (Phase-I). Tables, chairs, sheds and tents were seized from the taxi stands.


‘Scheme for utilising Ghaggar waters soon’
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, July 8
Panchkula will be developed as the most beautiful city in the country and the state government will allocate maximum funds for the development. This was announced by Mr Abhay Singh Chautala, MLA, Rori, on the concluding day of his two-day visit to the satellite town.

While interacting with the people of various wards of the municipal council of the area, Mr Chautala said the present government had spent maximum funds on the development of Panchkula. To remove the problem of drinking water in the city, the state government was formulating a scheme for utilising waters of the Ghaggar, he said, adding that a 200 feet high dam near Diwanwala village in Pinjore would be constructed on the river.

Mr Chautala addressed eight public meetings in Sectors 11, 14, 19, 20 and 2, and Kharag Mangoli and Abheypur villages. He detailed a number of other projects, including an auditorium, for the beautification of the satellite town. He said Rs 7 crore had been spent on the repair and maintenance of roads and Rs 2 crore on the upkeep of parks.

He said Rs 9 crore were available with the Municipal Council, Panchkula, for development works. He added that musical fountains were also being set up at the Mansa Devi temple complex to add beauty to its premises.


Tourism industry set for upswing
A.S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 8
The UT Administration is making a determined effort to pull the tourism industry in the City Beautiful out of the doldrums it had fallen into during the past few years due to factors beyond its control.

Chandigarh has been a popular destination as well as a transit point for tourists from all over the country heading for the cool climes of Himachal Pradesh. The world famous Rock Garden along with the Sukhna Lake are the top attractions of the city which also has the distinction of being designed by the French architect, Le Corbusier. Chandigarh’s shopping centres, especially the commercial markets in Sector 17, have emerged in recent years as among the best in any city this side of Delhi. Therefore, visitors from Punjab and Haryana also make it a point to visit the city for short shopping trips.

But certain events in different parts of the world cast their shadow on the tourism traffic here. “If it was the Kargil war in 1999, it were the terrorist strikes on the Indian Parliament, the Akshardham temple and Kaluchak army camp, deployment of the Indian forces on the border with Pakistan, attack on the World Trade Centre in New York followed by the war in Afghanistan and then in Iraq”, says Mr S.P. Singh, Managing Director of the Chandigarh Tourism and Industrial Development Corporation (CITCO). “It affected the tourist flow to Chandigarh as it did elsewhere in the country”.

“But we have been making concerted efforts to market Chandigarh throughout the country. We make it a point to participate in every tourist fair held in major cities of the country. These include Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Kolkata, Delhi and Chennai. And the results have been heartwarming”.


In search of a kidney donor
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 8
It is not just the task of raising Rs 1.75 lakh for surgery which is weighing on the mind of Mr Dharam Vir Goyal, a photographer from Ambala, but also arranging a kidney donor who can help save his life.

Suffering from an acute kidney problem for the past six months, Mr Goyal has to undergo dialysis twice a week. “Since my parents are too old to donate their kidney and my sister is suffering from diabetes, there is none in the family who can come to my rescue,” he says.

Father of three young children, Mr Goyal has somehow been able to raise Rs 1.75 lakh by borrowing from relatives but unavailability of a kidney for transplant is causing delay. Mr Goyal spends more than Rs 4,000 on dialysis and medicines every week.

“With each passing day, my husband’s health is deteriorating as he has become frail and with our shop remaining closed most of the time, it is getting difficult to run the house,” says his wife, Sunita. She is hoping that like some other lucky patients who were able to get a kidney through donation, her husband will also be fortunate enough.

Those who are in a position to help Mr Goyal can contact him at house number 153, Topkhana Bazaar, Ambala. He can also be contacted on phone No. 0171 - 2631707.



Environmentalists have warned that the next war would be due to water. Water resources are depleting in many developing countries, including India. Staying and studying in Dubai since birth, I know how expensive drinking water in Dubai can get since it has to be desalinated whereas India is lucky to have natural resources.

We should use fittings which allow the minimum wastage of water. Our daily habits like washing and bathing should be such that water is conserved. Our teachers should advise and demonstrate the best practices on energy conservation including water. A lot of water is wasted in watering plants, house gardens, parks as I observe in Chandigarh. Dubai installs computer controlled drip irrigation systems which save a lot of water. More and more areas should be landscaped, brought under forest by carefully selecting plants requiring less water.

The quality of drinking water in India is a cause of concern. Water pollution, industrial pollution, air pollution particularly in our cities and towns, are adversely affecting the health of children. The public should cooperate and contribute towards the government efforts in securing safe and healthy tourist destination for the world.

Karan Mehta, Class IV
The Millennium School, Dubai (UAE)



Traders’ protest car rally today
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 8
The Chandigarh Beopar Mandal will organise a protest car rally against the Rent Act notification of the UT Administration here tomorrow. According to Mr Kamaljit Singh Panchhi, vice-president of the mandal, the rally will commence from Sector 34 and conclude at Matka Chowk.

Mr Arvind Jain, president of the Chandigarh Commercial Tenants Association, said that the association would also join the rally.


Crime branch searches Media Ad Link’s office
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 8
The crime branch of the local police today conducted a search at the Sector 35 office of a Delhi-based company, Media Ad Link, after a case of cheating and criminal conspiracy was registered against it yesterday. The company has allegedly cheated several residents of the city by promising their children a modelling career.

A case under Sections 420 and 120 B of the IPC was registered against Ms Bhawna Karir, Delhi-based owner of the company, and Ms Monica Sethi, in charge of the local branch of the company. Ms Karir, who was arrested by the Delhi police in a separate case of cheating on June 30, is lodged in Tihar Jail.

The crime branch is probing the matter after Mr Sandeep Singh, a resident of Sector 36 here, complained to the police that he had been cheated by the company.

After obtaining search warrants from a local court, the police had broken open the locked office of the company here. A police personnel said seven registers with the names of thousands of candidates and their telephone numbers, a receipt book, and some office furniture was found in the cabin of the company. “It appeared that the company had removed important documents like the entry fee register and the portfolios of the applicants. Inquiries in the area revealed that the company had been running its office for the past seven years.

The police would now bring Ms Karir, on production warrants from Tihar Jail. The other suspect, Ms Sethi, has also gone underground.

Ms Karir, owner of Media Ad Link, used to contact parents randomly and promise to get their children a break into the world of modelling. After asking the parents to pay an entrance fee, the company then asked for more money to prepare portfolios of children.

According to sources in the Delhi police, Ms Karir, after randomly picking up a number from the telephone directory, used to tell the person on the other side that his child had a great potential to become a famous model. She had reportedly told the Delhi police that she sold the idea to as many as 4,700 persons and made about Rs 2.5 crore.

The police said the agency used to ask for a registration fee of Rs 1,100 from the applicants and then offered to get their portfolios made for anything between Rs 2,000 - 5,500. But few children got any modelling assignments.


Lawyer missing
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 8
Parminder Jit Singh Khurana, a lawyer who had filed a public interest litigation on behalf of a social organisation in the Punjab Public Service Commission recruitment scam, has been missing since last evening. His car was found in Sector 17 today.

According to the family, the advocate left his Sector 10 residence for the high court at about 3.30 pm with some files on Monday. The family got worried and started searching for him after he failed to get in touch with them till late in the evening. The advocate was wearing a white shirt grey trousers and a cream turban.

A report has been lodged with the Chandigarh police.

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