Tuesday, July 15, 2003, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Displaced villagers denied fair share
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 14
The Chandigarh Administration is running two separate rehabilitation policies. One for slum-dwellers and the other for people whose houses and land in the erstwhile villages had been acquired for building the city. The slum-dwellers, who came and squatted on government land, are getting a better deal.

The administration has finalised a policy for allotment of lands to villagers, who are largely Punjabis, and has forwarded a list of 640 persons who are eligible for rehabilitation. According to the new scheme for giving houses to villagers: “Anyone who owned between two kanals (1000 sq yrds) and 1 acre of land will be eligible for LIG flats. People who owned between 1 acre and 3 acres of land will be given MIG flats. People who owned more than 3 acres of land will be eligible for HIG flats.” Sources said these people will be given preference in future housing schemes floated by the Chandigarh Housing Board. This means there will be no concession and no special scheme like those planned for slum-dwellers.

Villagers are furious as they have been short-changed when compared with slum-dwellers, who are once again being rehabilitated in thousands. Slum-dwellers who were eligible as on the cut-off date of December 8, 1996 will get flats and those who are not eligible will not be displaced but will be offered flats.

In the past, the Pind Bachao Committee, a body of villagers who were uprooted to make way for the city, has alleged racial discrimination at the hands of the Chandigarh Administration.

The administration was keen on rehabilitating illegal slum-dwellers but were not bothered about rehabilitating 5,000 families that were displaced around 30 years ago. This, despite the fact that the National Commission of Minorities (NCM) has asked the administration to do maximum for the displaced families.

The Chandigarh Administration had initially shown inclination to rehabilitate 5,000 families on 43 acres of land in Sector 63, but nothing happened. Demands were raised to give 100 per cent rural subsidy funds under the Gram Yojna. However, nothing was granted.

The committee had demanded a two bedroom flat for all 5,000 families as a special dispensation at maximum price of Rs 5,000. The families are those that were part of 11 villages acquired in early 1970s and no compensation was paid for the houses.



BSP paints city ‘blue’ 
Maya’s rally to challenge Amarinder
Sanjay Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 14
The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has painted the town “blue” (colour of the BSP flag) ahead of the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Ms Mayawati’s rally at the Parade Ground tomorrow to seek ouster of the Amarinder Singh government.

The in-charge of the rally and a party member of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council Narendra Kashyap said the city could have a historic turnout to see and listen to an aggressive voice of the Dalit leader.

He ruled out making a guess on the number of people coming to the city but indicated the party was hoping more than one lakh people from across Punjab to hit the roads of the City Beautiful.

A Punjab unit office-bearer of the party said a “sailab” deluge of humanity would come to the city that would lay the foundation of the party strengthening in the city and Punjab as well as weakening the Amarinder Singh government.

In the wake of the monsoon season, the organisers of the rally are not taking any chances and have covered the entire Parade Ground with tents to provide the crowd a cover.

The Punjab unit General Secretary, Mr Maan Singh Manhera, said a DIG from Uttar Pradesh and a team of 15 to 20 other officials had already reached the city to supervise the security arrangements of the UP Chief Minister who has the Z Plus category of security.

The UP police official had a meeting with the local police to collectively make arrangements for the security of the Chief Minister.

The Chandigarh Police has arranged to deploy 500 constables, four DSPs and 13 Inspectors to take care of the law and order near the Parade Ground.

However, the police has not planned any traffic diversions, an official spokesman said. He said the traffic arrangement would more or less be of the kind arranged for the visit of the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, who visited the city on July 11.

The Administration has planned to disperse vehicles for parking considering a large number of vehicles coming to the city ferrying party activists from Punjab.

The Parade ground is being decorated with more-than-life size cut outs of Ms Mayawati and her party chief Kanshi Ram.

The Chandigarh unit president of the BSP said except those areas where there was no permission to put up flags, they had been placed in the entire city to both welcome the teaming millions as well as the Dalit leader.

Banners being put up at the Parade Ground read “Takht badal do Taj badal do, Congress ka raj badal do,” Lathi goli ki sarkar nahin chalegi, nahin chalegi.”

Ms Mayawati is scheduled to reach the city by the UP State plane and would return the same day to Lucknow.



LPG godowns to be shifted out of city
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 14
Safety and security considerations of the public have driven the UT Administration to end its long-drawn battle with LPG distributors on the shifting out of their godowns from thickly populated areas to the periphery and work out an amicable solution.

To end the stalemate which emanated from the Administration allocating sites for these godowns at “exorbitant” rents to the distributors at 10 different locations over five years back, the Administration has decided to provide an alternative to these sites by making available panchayat land in three villages of Maloya, Khuda Ali Sher and Mauli Jagran located on the periphery.

These village sites were identified and interest in “rehabilitating” the godowns was rekindled during the demolition drives carried out by the Administration to clear encroachments in Mani Majra and Industrial Area recently where such godowns are located.

Under the new arrangements worked out with the village panchayats, the distributors would be given panchayat land, away from the populated area, on lease at nominal cost. This would serve the twin purpose of making land available to LPG distributors at “reasonable prices” and would also benefit the panchayats by bringing in much-needed funds for development of the villages.

It is learnt that the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Arun Kumar, has granted permission to shift the godowns to the periphery and that the distributors as well as the panchayats have welcomed the move.

“The villages of Maloya and Mauli Jagran as the next destination for godowns earned a good response from the distributors, they were not too keen on Khuda Ali Sher from the feedback that I have got they are expected to give their acceptance in writing by tomorrow after which the process will begin,” says Mr Arun Kumar.

Meanwhile, speaking on behalf of the distributors on the latest development on the issue of shifting to the periphery, Mr Chander Mukhi said: “Our only problem with the allotted sites was the high rent being demanded from us. In case that can be sorted out, we have no objection to moving out of the city.”

He explained that though the godowns were located at the periphery to begin with, the expanding city and coming up of settlements all around had necessitated the shifting of godowns even further out of the city.

Hanging fire since 1996 when the first site was allotted to an LPG distributor, the shifting out of LPG godowns to the periphery was turned down by the 27 distributors who were not too happy with the monthly rentals of Rs 11,000 to Rs 15,000 fixed by the Administration. Terming these as “very high”, the distributors had refused to take possession of the sites. Since then the Administration and distributors had been at loggerheads and were unable to resolve the issue.

A few months back when the Administration had warned them to shift to the new locations, the distributors had threatened to go on strike and disrupt supply of LPG to the city.



Mahima replaces Karisma, rules still
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 14
Mahima Choudhary had nothing to do with the confusion that marked the unveiling ceremony of Kinetic’s new machine — Zing at Hotel Mountview this afternoon. The actress had no idea that many among those present in the hotel were actually waiting for Karisma Kapoor who, they thought, was visiting as the brand ambassador for Kinetic Zing. Interestingly, all print advertisements, until recently, promised the buyers of Kinetic Zing a date with Karisma, not Mahima.

It was only later that Mahima explained the last minute shift in the schedule, "There has been some confusion because both Karisma and myself are brand ambassador for Zing. I have been appearing in her place because her father has been ill. He was admitted to the Apollo Hospital.”

As the confusion sorted out, decks were cleared for conversation which first centred around the machine and later around the actress’s flavoured film career. Brushing aside all earlier queries about films, she said, “I talk about my movies all the time. Let us first talk about the scooter which is fantastic. It is lightweight and very easy to handle. It has many interesting elements, like FM Radio facility, a mobile carrier and charger. Any girl would love to possess a Zing.”

Keeping her commitment to the organisers of “Zing with me contest” (some buyers of Zing had a chance to see the film Pardes with Mahima at Piccadily, Sector 34), the actress went on to say, “In my first film I had driven a moped. Had Zing been around I would have ensured that it featured in the film. I test rode it. It is very light.”

After meeting her professional obligations, Mahima settled down to handle queries concerning her film career. Mahima’s graph in the film industry has never been too constant. In fact, the actress has often been surprised at the way people have reacted to her skills — lauded her when she had least expected and ignored her when she had only expected appreciation.

Unruffled by the turning tides, she said, “I am on a constant path to growth. I believe that you can judge yourself the best. That is why I am my best critic. Pardes was fabulous, thanks to Subhash Ghai. Later Dil Kya Kare with Ajay Devgan did well. Recently my film with Preity Zinta also fared well. My credit lies in working, not in measuring hits.”

With plum roles in JP Dutta’s LOC and Tanuja Chandra’s film star, Mahima is hoping for a come back. “I loved working with Tanuja. She is a disciplinarian and meets schedules religiously. I am paired opposite Priyanshu in this film.”

Continuing her love with cartoons, Mahima is also busy working on Hum Do Hamara Ek with Govinda and Dhaar with Dino Morea. “I am especially looking forward to Zameer where I am paired with Ajay Devgan. All the roles I mentioned are strong and offer scope for great acting. I am trying to keep run of the mill offers at bay and do something that spells novelty.”



Anti-encroachment drive brought to halt
A. S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 14
One of the biggest anti-encroachment and slum clearance drives seen in the Union Territory of Chandigarh in recent years, has been called off.
The drive initiated on the orders of the Administrator of Chandigarh, Justice O.P. Verma, who is also the Governor of Punjab, has been halted following intervention by the Union Minister of State for Home, Mr I.D. Swami.

The drive led to vociferous protests from all political parties and pressure groups in the UT but the loudest of them came from the local BJP leadership which made repeated pleas to Justice Verma before finally knocking at the doors of the Deputy Minister Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, and the Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Mr I.D. Swami.

Mr Swami who made a dash to the city last week declared in no certain terms that he would like the UT Administration to undertake the exercise only after a proper survey and making alternative arrangements for the resettlement of the people uprooted from their present locations. The Administration was thus left with no choice.

The bulldozers and enforcement staff of the Administration which had been marching in one illegal colony after the other for the past many weeks accompanied by hundreds of policemen to carry out demolitions did not stir out of their premises and offices today. The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Arun Kumar and the Land Acquisition Officer, Mr S.K . Setia, who supervised and conducted the drive, reviewed the situation today.

Mr Arun Kumar told TNS that as many as 240 acres of valuable land had been cleared of encroachments as a result of the drive. This included about 45 acres in Mani Majra, about 50 acres in Shaheed Bhagat Singh Colony, about 80 acres in Palsora Colony and furniture market and 50 acres in Sector 53 and 54.

As many as 5,000 illegal structures were demolished leading to the displacement of nearly 30, 000 people. The UT Administration, he said, was making arrangements for the rehabilitation of about 10,000 people. The remaining would have to fend for themselves.

The Deputy Commissioner agreed that the drive had made only a minimal impact on the problem of encroachment in the UT. The number of illegal squatters in the UT was as high as 1.25 lakh.



Drive to check misuse of residential premises
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, July 14
The Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) has launched a drive against misuse of residential premises for professional consultancy services. The first to be targeted by HUDA are the doctors running nursing homes in residential areas.

The Estate Office is reportedly carrying out a survey to assess the number of nursing homes being run from residential premises, without paying professional consultancy charges to HUDA. The Estate Officer has reportedly asked his staff to conduct a survey in this regard, so that notices can be served on defaulters.

It may be noted that only medical consultancy is allowed in residential areas, but in-house admission of patients is not allowed under the HUDA rules.

The local chapter of the Indian Medical Association has demanded that instead of initiating resumption proceedings against violators, HUDA should allot nursing home sites to the established nursing home at concessional rates. An office-bearer of the Panchkula chapter of the IMA said as many as 14 such nursing homes were running from residential premises.

According to HUDA officials, similar surveys will also be carried out against other professionals, including lawyers, tax consultants, chartered accountants, company secretaries, architects, property consultants and tourist guides etc. About 600 such professionals are reportedly operating in residential areas in the township.

It may be mentioned that HUDA has allowed running of consultancy services in residential areas by above mentioned professionals from 25 per cent of the total area of a residential plot (or 50 sq m area) after payment of Rs 50,000 as professional consultancy charges for a period of five years.



4 IAS officials to lose membership of 
housing society
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 14
Following an inquiry report, four IAS officials of the Punjab cadre and few other influential persons, who were wrongly made members of a cooperative housing society, will lose their membership, while rights of the original allottees will be restored, according to sources in the Chandigarh Administration here today.

The inquiry conducted by the Director IT, Mr Vivek Atray, has found that the Joint Secretary Finance, Chandigarh Administration, Mr Dalip Kumar, the DC Gurdaspur, Mr K.A.P. Sinha, the Municipal Commissioner, Bathinda, Mr D.K. Tewari, and two other IAS officers — Mr Hussan Lal and Mr Alok Sekhar — had become members of the Pink Rose Cooperative Housing Society by replacing people who had been members for more than two decades.

The inquiry officer has suggested that an independent administrator should be appointed to look into each aspect of the society.

It may be recollected that on June 3, Chandigarh Tribune had highlighted how names of seven city residents, who had paid a few lakhs each to own flats in Chandigarh, had been deleted from the list of original allottees.

Sources said the report was submitted by Mr Atray to the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Arun Kumar, who has forwarded it for further action to the Additional Deputy Commissioner, Mr Inderjit Singh Sandhu. 



Wildlife Dept gears up for awareness drive
Parbina Rashid

Chandigarh, July 14
Responding to the wake-up call of the government for registering all sorts of wildlife possessions, the Forest and Wildlife Department, Chandigarh Administration, and a few local voluntary organisations are gearing up to spread awareness among people owning such items here.

The Central Government gave a time of 180 days, starting from April 18, to legalise the possession of all shahtoosh shawls, tiger skins, deer antlers and other trophies, following which the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) had launched a massive campaign to make people aware of the situation throughout the country.

“We in Chandigarh also have advertised in all major papers about the terms and conditions and the last date for submission of applications,” said Mr Ishwar Singh, Chief Wildlife Warden, UT Administration. Their effort has borne fruit as people have already started applying, mostly to register their shahtoosh shawls, even though the deadline is October 18.

Stating that the number of such applicants was the highest in Himachal Pradesh and lowest in Punjab, Mr S. K. Sharma, president of the local chapter of Environment Society of India, said the society was going to organise a series of lectures and talks on the issue. “In Chandigarh, there are a large number of people who own such wildlife trophies and hence there is a need for public awareness,” said Mr Sharma.

However, Mr Ishwar Singh is not anticipating any problem for accomplishing 100 per cent registration of all wildlife trophies in the city. “After repeated advertisements in national dailies, people should come forward to do it. And Chandigarh being a city of the elite, we are expecting a smooth run,” he said.

However, the problem lies in proper identification of the items like shahtoosh shawls, informs Mr Ishwar Singh. “Once the deadline is over, we will register only those items acquired after 1972 and those which are genuine wildlife items,” he said. According to the Chief Wildlife Warden, the identification of shahtoosh shawls needs technical expertise as there is a hazy distinguishing line between a pashmina shawl and a shahtoosh shawl.

“The shawls will be sent to Wildlife Institute of India, Dehra Dun, for a close examination and only after that we will register the item,” he said. Interestingly, even in the advertisement placed by the WTI, the focus is on shahtoosh, with the catchline, “Your favourite shahtoosh shawl can send you to jail unless you register it.” The advertisement also drives home the point that this is really the last chance for keeping your possession safe and intact.

At the national level, the WTI is taking the advertisement to Lakme India Fashion Week for greater impact, while at the local level, the Environment Society of India is planning to launch its own campaign soon. “Since we are part of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, it is our responsibility to spread awareness about the registration procedure among the public of Chandigarh and mostly to people of Punjab who have such trophies in abundance but are unaware of the deadline set by the Centre,” said Mr S. K. Sharma. 



Panel for recruiting MC staff recommended
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 14
The Legal Affairs Committee of the Municipal Corporation today recommended formation of a three-member need-based committee for recruiting staff in the municipal bodies.

“The committee should have two councillors and one official of the department where recruitment is required and its chairman and members have to be appointed by the House,” the committee said while forwarding its opinion on the Specimen Municipal Law drafted by the Central Government and sent to states for the comments of the local bodies.

The committee specifically said such a committee would be temporary and each time a need for appointment arose, a new committee and its chairman would be appointed to keep transparency in the appointments, the committee said.

The committee also favoured setting up an establishment audit committee to fix norms recruiting manpower for different works undertaken by the corporation.

The committee at its second meeting on the issue under the chairmanship of Dr K. S. Raju also approved of setting up an Accounts Committee on the pattern of the Public Accounts Committee in Parliament and Assemblies.

It also approved setting up a state Vigilance Committee for checking corruption and misconduct of its employees.

In the absence of a firm opinion emerging on the issues related to the sanitation, public health, Engineering and Finance Departments, the committee has called another meeting on July 18.

Dr Raju said the final report would be prepared by July 21.



Boycott govt functions, tenants asked
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 14
The Commercial Tenant Association has called upon the city traders to boycott all government/administration functions in protest against the decision to implement the Rent Act notification.

Talking to the TNS, Mr Arvind Jain, president of the association, said the legality of implementing the Rent Act notification in Chandigarh was doubtful as the “administrations of Union Territories do not enjoy the powers to enact/amend the existing laws without getting it approved from Parliament”, he added.

It may be mentioned that the Chandigarh Administration had notified that rented buildings and lands whose rent exceeded Rs 1500 per month were removed from the ambit of the East Punjab Urban Rent Restriction Act, 1949 as applicable to Chandigarh.

This means that such properties would be strictly governed by the contract between the two parties thus giving sweeping powers to the landlords, who otherwise had to knock the doors of various courts to get their premises vacated. “Now, if the contract says eviction can be affected through a notice of two months, the landlord can give two months’ notice and proceed for eviction without going to courts.”

“This move will affect several thousand properties which have been disputed between landlords and tenants”, said Mr Jain. He said that at least 50,000 traders would be affected due to this notification.

He further said that the commercial tenants were worried about their future. “A lot of devotion is necessary for establishing the shop. If we desire to do our business at an alternative site, it is not necessary that we will get suitable shop. Even if we get the same, it is not necessary that we will succeed in business there, because once we are uprooted nobody knows what will happen to us”, he added.

Meanwhile, Colonel J.P.S. Mehta, chairman of the association lashed out at the bureaucracy and local politicians for not raising their voice against this notification.

The leaders of the association decided to intensify the stir if the administration did not withdraw the notification.



Don’t waste opportunity for Indo-Pak amity, 
says Nayyar
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, July 14
“A solution to the India-Pakistan problem lies in the creation of a people’s movement that will flow above and beyond the governments of the two nations. Governments are moving very slowly, if not dragging their feet, but the people are ready to reach out to each other with an enthusiasm that I have never seen before.”

If there is anyone beaming with optimism about a final thawing of relations between India and Pakistan, it is Mr Kuldip Nayyar, a Rajya Sabha Member and veteran journalist. Back from his 11-day tour to Pakistan as part of the parliamentarians’ delegation, Mr Nayyar said at a function here today that the opportunity that had presented itself now was the first of its kind since Partition and should not be wasted.

“Other than the warmth and affection that we are always showered with in Pakistan, this time I felt a feeling among their people of being fed up with the war of words between the leaders over the Kashmir deadlock. “Kashmir ka masla to dekha jayega. Kuch aur baatein bhi to honi chahiyen,” he said.

A delegation of Judges from India is leaving for Pakistan in August. A delegation of parliamentarians from Pakistan, led by Imran Khan, will be visiting India in September. “The governments should allow the exchange of students, teachers, accredited journalists, industrialists and artistes. If visa limitations cannot be abolished, at least they should be broadened. Pakistan should consider giving India the most favoured nation status for trade,” he said earlier, talking to TNS.

One of the most vociferous advocates of Track Two diplomacy, Mr Nayyar said members of the Jamait-e-Islami were now ready to talk about Kashmir. “This was conveyed to us by a member of the organisation whom we met at a reception in Karachi. For the first time in the history of the two nations has a fundamentalist body has offered to talk peace,” he said.

Unaffected by the unsavoury rhetoric that has been exchanged between the heads of the two countries, Mr Nayyar said, “With elections in mind, anti-Pakistan and anti-India talk is just vote-catching sloganeering for politicians. People of the two countries have too much in common to ignore their ties and it is just a matter of time before the call of the hearts and the economy breaks through political deadlocks, even if it means that we should shun our politicians and they should raise their voice against the fauj.”

Narrating his journey from Pakistan to India in September, 1947, Mr Nayyar recalled his dream of bringing the people of the two nations together. “Let the borders remain, but the walls have to go,” he said. Famous for starting the candle-lighting ceremony at the Wagah border on the midnight of August 14 and 15 each year, Mr Nayyar’s faith in the people of the two countries remains unshaken. When asked how could he be sure that the talks would not fail this time, he said, “Let’s believe that they will not fail this time and they will not.”

Mr Nayyar’s lecture, organised by Alami Punjabi Parivaar at the Punjab School Education Board, was attended by over 100 persons from Chandigarh and the township. Mr Harnek Singh Gharuan, a former Punjab minister, accompanied Mr Nayyar. Earlier, Dr Kehar Singh, Chairman of the Punjab School Education Board, welcomed Mr Nayyar.

‘No solution on basis of religion’

Talking about Kashmir, Mr Nayyar said the autonomous status of Kashmir had always been a figment of imagination of its heads. And if Omar Abdullah is going back to 1952 then it is merely a step towards getting popular response, he said. “The Kashmir problem cannot be solved on the basis of religion,” he pointed out to the audience. “Free elections should be held in Pakistan so that the elected Prime Minister can hold one-to-one talks with his counterpart here,” he added.



Commander who forced Niazi to surrender
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 14
“General, you are now a prisoner of war.” The curt remark directed at the then military ruler of erstwhile East Pakistan, Lieut-Gen A.A.K. Niazi, in his plush office by the commander of the first Indian formation to march into Dhaka during the 1971 Indo-Pak war signalled the end of the 16-day conflict.

Thirtytwo years later, Brig Sant Singh (retd) still remembers with remarkable clarity the mood and disposition of the defeated general, whose surrendered weapon was in the news recently after another gun was reported stolen from the National Museum in New Delhi.

“When we reached Niazi’s headquarters on the morning of December 16, his officers were trying to destroy documents and maps. A few minutes later, he came out of his underground bunker to his well-appointed office which we had occupied,” he recalled. “Niazi kept silent. He looked sad and appeared to be anxious as to what course events would take,” he added. Niazi believed that there were thousands of armed Mukti Bahni activists in Dhaka and he feared that he would be killed. Niazi was wearing a holstered handgun at that time, but Brig Sant Singh recalled that he was too pre-occupied with other matters to notice the type of gun.

With a Maha Vir Chakra awarded for gallantry in the face of the enemy in the 1965 Indo-Pak war and another in the 1971 war, the Brigadier, who resides in Chandigarh is one of the most highly decorated officers in the country.

On the night of December 14, Brig Sant Singh, was ordered by the General Officer Commanding, 2 Division, Major-Gen G.S. Nagra, to capture Dhaka. Advancing along the Mymensingh-Madhupur axis, ‘FJ Force’ comprising 13 Guards, 2 Para and 6 Bihar covered about 55 km before reaching the Bhuri Ganga river on the outskirts of Dhaka on December 15. The Paras wrestled control of the sole bridge over it and the force dislodged Pakistani gunners entrenched on a piece of high ground on the other side, who were tasked to protect the bridge.

Following calls by the Indian top brass to surrender, Major-Gen Jamshed Khan, responsible for the defence of Dhaka, drove over with a white flag. He was stripped of his official flag, weapon and badges of rank. “We commandeered his official car and along with General Nagra and some of our troops, we drove over to the Pakistani headquarters.”

“In the evening, I questioned Niazi for an hour-and-a-half about the authority he wielded, his assessment of the Indian strategy and his own operational plans,” Brig Sant Singh said. Niazi told him that the surrender had been authorised by Gen Yahya Khan, the Pakistani dictator then in power, though the timing for the surrender had been left to him.

On his assessment about the Indian strategy, Niazi said he was given to understand that Indian troops may not liberate the country, but instead try to capture areas along the border to push back the one crore refugees staying on Indian soil. He said based on this assessment, his plans had been to strengthen forward defences and concentrate troops along the border.



War heroes seek parity in benefits
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 14
Members of the War Decorated India (WDI), an association of gallantry award winners, have sought parity in allowances being paid by the Haryana government with those being paid by the neighbouring state of Punjab.

During a meeting with the Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, last week WDI members urged him to bring at par, benefits being paid to winners of gallantry awards with those of freedom fighters belonging to the state.

The gallantry awards include Param Vir Chakra (PVC), Maha Vir Chakra (MVC) and Vir Chakra (VrC), referred to as those awarded for gallantry in the face of the enemy or as wartime decorations.

While the cash grant and cash in lieu of land being given to gallantry awardees by both states are equal, the annuity being paid by the Haryana government is less. It pays Rs 3,000 to the winner of a PVC, while MVC and VrC are paid Rs 1,200 and Rs 900, respectively. Punjab on the other hand pays Rs 4,200, Rs 3,300 and Rs 2,400 to winners of PVC, MVC and VrC respectively.

Further, while Punjab pays a monthly pension allowance of Rs 1,500 for all three awards, no such pension is being paid by the Haryana government.

Off the total 1,552 war decorated in the country, about 30 per cent belong to the states of Punjab and Haryana. Haryana has one PVC winner, 20 MVC winners and 136 VrC winners to its credit, though the neighbouring state of Punjab boasts of a higher number of 4 PVCs, 52 MVCs and 250 VrCs.

WDI members brought to the Chief Minister’s notice that Punjab had made a policy decision in September, 1999, to equate the benefits of gallantry awardees with that of freedom fighters. While Punjab pays Rs 2,000 per month to freedom fighters, Haryana pays Rs 1,600 per month.

Meanwhile, WDI is also setting up a corpus of Rs 30 lakh to help it meet its working expenses. The interest accruing from it would be sufficient to meet the welfare needs of widows of other ranks, holding conventions and administrative work.



Command Hospital’s stride towards modernisation

IN the beginning of 90s, when the Command Hospital, (Western Command), shifted to its new building in Chandi Mandir from Chandigarh, it had only one super-speciality i.e. reconstructive surgery. At that time, it was not only much behind the other command hospitals but even the Military Hospital, Jalandhar, was better equipped than this hospital.

It was then that this hospital started its stride towards modernisation. And today, it is having almost all super-speciality departments with modern equipment and competent doctors. The inflow of the latest equipment into this hospital has become a continuous process.

Some of the costly equipment, each running into lakhs of rupees, received in the last three months, is cranial implants (neuro surgery) with craniotomy instrument set, operating microscope (neuro surgery) and neuro endoscope. While the hospital has a well equipped CT scan department, it expects to receive the MRI by March, 2004.

Happily, this command hospital has almost fulfilled the requirement of becoming a post-graduate institute. All its departments, barring two, have already been inspected by the Medical Council of India for upgradation. Inspection of the remaining two departments i.e. orthopaedics and paediatrics is likely to be completed by August 31. After that, the hospital will start running MD and MS classes like the PGI, Chandigarh.

No jobs for ex-servicemen: Ex-servicemen in almost all the states are sore over the state government’s attitude of not giving them the vacancies reserved for them in the government jobs. The situation in the northern states is quite disconcerting.

The president of J&K Ex-Servicemen League, Maj-Gen Goverdhan Singh Jamwal (retd), informed the Governor Lieut-Gen S.K. Sinha(retd), on July 4, that not a single ex-servicemen had been given employment by the state government in the last seven years. Before the last Assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh, most of the ex-servicemen had said: “The BJP had promised in the last elections to provide 15 per cent reservation for ex-servicemen in government jobs but they have not fulfilled this commitment”.

The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had said in September last year that “13 per cent seats reserved for the defence personnel would be filled now”. But hardly any progress has been made in this regard so far.

In Haryana, the situation is much better than the other states. For, in each lot of available vacancies, 14 per cent have gone to the ex-servicemen. For instance, of the 3,000 and 1,600 vacancies in the police and 700 vacancies of JBT teachers, 14 per cent have been given to the ex-soldiers. And the unutilised ex-servicemen vacancies of one lot are carried forward to the next lot.

The ex-servicemen in most state are a disgruntled lot because of the political parties making false promises to them before each election, which they know they cannot fulfil. After the ban imposed by Centre Government in 1999, on filling of vacancies, hardly any vacancies have become available. But even when some vacancies fall vacant, the states have a tendency to cold shoulder the ex-soldiers.

Help to mine casualties: In every war or in a large-scale deployment of the Army, the people at the border suffer maximum. In Operation Prakaram, a number of civilians were killed or wounded.

The government has agreed to pay Rs 2 lakh to each mine casualty. Of which Rs 25,000 is paid by the Headquarters Western Command by a cheque so that the victim of a mine explosion does not have to wait until Rs 2 lakh is received from the government.

Headquarters Western Command has also taken upon itself to get artificial limbs fitted free of cost to all civilian casualties of the western theatre at the artificial limb centre (ALC) in the Command Hospital, Chandi Mandir.

Helpline at Ambala: Kharhga Ex-servicemen Helpline was established at Military Hospital in Ambala Cantonment on March 17, 2003. It has helped over 1,200 ex-servicemen and widows in their pensionary and other welfare problems in the first four months of its existence.

With the news about the existence of this welfare service spreading, more needy ex-servicemen and widows have started coming to it. The officer -in-charge of this helpline is Lieut-Col Sarbjit Singh and its telephone number is 2645339.



Industrialists threaten stir against HUDA
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, July 14
The Panchkula Industrial Association has threatened to launch an agitation against Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) for its alleged “anti-industry” approach.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr S.L. Jindal, president and Mr S.S. Goel, general secretary, of the association, said they would stage dharnas and organise protest rallies if HUDA authorities launched a drive against violations of HUDA bylaws.

HUDA has threatened to launch a drive against the industries violating HUDA bylaws by either change in land use or for carrying out additional work on their premises by giving a portion on rent for manufacturing/ trading purposes. This tantamounts to misusing the site for purposes other than what it is meant for.

It may be noted that a number of people have also set up retail outlets here, some residential complexes have come up, as have certain career guidance academies. Three schools are also operating from industrial sheds. In fact, the Estate Office is now carrying out a survey in order to assess the violations in Industrial Area Phase I and II.

Last year, too, the industrialists had taken to the streets in protest against HUDA’s drive to check violations. However, the industrialists plead that there is recession in the market, making it difficult to run the industry properly. Also, no such restriction is imposed in the industrial area at Chandigarh.

The industrialists demanded that HUDA help the ailing industry in the township, or they would be forced to shift their businesses to the neighbouring states of Punjab or Himachal Pradesh. 



Neighbourhood watch’ scheme eludes Sec 41-D
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 14
Over two years since the launch of the “neighbourhood watch” scheme in the city, the Chandigarh police is yet to introduce it for enhanced security in Sector 41-D. The issue regarding the introduction of the scheme was recently raised by the MIG (Upper) Flats Residents Welfare Association, Sector 41-D, at a meeting with police officials.

The idea behind the scheme was to pool in resources of residents and the police for preventing the incidents of crime and for effective communication between them. The residents also demanded the setting up of a police booth in the market. The beat officials should also be instructed to remain in touch with the association president, they said.

They also demanded the installation of traffic lights on the road dividing Sectors 40-C and 41-D, besides Sectors 40-B and 41-A, along with the new rehri market. They asserted that this was essential for avoiding accidents.

They also demanded the sealing of unauthorised entry points on V3 roads around the sector for ensuring safety. They said traffic officials should be deputed and scrap dealers near the green belt be shifted.

Meanwhile, the LIG Residents Welfare Association, Sector 41-D, said traffic police officials should be deployed for checking rash and negligent driving. The shifting of labourers from Palsora Chowk to some other suitable place was also demanded. 



‘Pragati Gatha’ released
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 14
‘Pragati Gatha’, a book brought out by the Bharat Vikas Parishad, was released at a function held to mark the 40th year of the ‘sthapana divas’ of the parishad at DAV College, Sector 10 here yesterday. A seminar on ‘the role of each citizen in India’s development’ was also organised on the occasion. National President of the Parishad Justice J.V. Gupta (retd.) said the source of inspiration to work was love for country and sense of kindness towards society.

Presiding over the function, Swami Brameshanand, secretary, Rama Krishna Mission, said that all that needed was purity of mind as this would bring purity of soul. The seminar concluded with the slogan ‘country gives us all that we need, let us learn to repay’.

Among others who were present included Mr H.R. Narang, Dr K.L. Passi, Dr P.N. Thapar and Mr Ajay Dutta, president of south branch, national secretary, local president and local secretary of Bharat Vikas Parishad respectively. Mr K.L. Chouhan and Mr Y.P. Madan, secretary, coordination committee, BVP and president, BVP west branch were also present. The parishad also donated two tri-cycles to physically handicapped students. This was stated by Mr Vinod Jaidka, a spokesperson for the local unit of the parishad. 



Taxi operators differ over rent
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 14
A section of taxi operators in the city today refused to accept an agreement between the Municipal Corporation and the taxi operators union over the reduction of the ground rent of taxi stands.

A delegation of taxi operators led by Mr H.S. Sawhney met Mayor Subhash Chawla saying the amount fixed for the ground rent was beyond their capacity.

Mr Chawla explained to the delegation that the Municipal Corporation General House had already passed a resolution fixing Rs 2,500 and Rs 2,000 ground rent depending upon the locality of the taxi stand.

He said this ground rent was reduced from Rs. 7,500 and Rs 7,000 passed by the House before the reduction. The Mayor assured the delegation that he would look into the matter.

The corporation has already issued a public notice to the approved 54 taxi stands to clear their dues of the past to function from these areas.

There are around 62 other taxi stands which do not have any permission. Most of those who today met the Mayor are from amongst those who are running taxi stands without any permission from the Municipal Corporation.



Allow use of Hindi, Punjabi in applications: SP
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 14
The local unit of the Samajwadi Party has urged the UT Administrator to allow the use of Hindi and Punjabi for filling application forms to be submitted to various UT offices and departments.

A delegation of the unit, under the leadership of its president, Mr Shivi Jaiswal, met the Administrator, Justice O.P. Verma (retd), and submitted a memorandum to him here today.

The delegation urged the Administrator to set up a special lok adalat to settle pending cases of sales tax assessment. They also urged him to convene a meeting of the Advisory Council for discussing civic amenities, law and order situation and other issues relating to the city. 



Traffic blocked after scuffle
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, July 14
Traffic on the Phase I main road remained blocked for nearly one hour following an altercation and scuffle between a CTU bus driver and a car driver. The bus driver was allegedly beaten up by the car driver.

According to sources, a Lancer car driver accompanied by another person almost hit the bus coming from the opposite side while trying to reverse their car opposite a chemist shop here. In a fit of rage the CTU driver stopped the bus and started abusing the persons in the car.

The car driver, Gurnaam Singh, and his friend allegedly beat up the bus driver, Ram Singh, and then fled. The driver was rushed to a hospital. Meanwhile, the bus remained parked in the middle of the road and the traffic came to a halt. Other CTU drivers also parked their buses on the road. Another friend of the car driver, who had gone to buy medicines, was stopped by the bus drivers and the police was called.



Employees gherao company office
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 14
Over 20 persons employed by Onicra Ltd — which claims to market credit cards of Standard Chartered Bank — gheraoed the office of the company in Sector 17, opposite Mehfil restaurant, this evening. They were protesting against the non-payment of their salary.

According to a representative of the employees, they were employed by the company on June 1, to market credit cards. Mr Sethi, the in charge of the office, promised, to pay Rs 5,000 per month to each employee in addition to incentives if targets were achived by them. Now after about one and a half month, they have been given cheques for Rs 100 to Rs 200 each.

He said: ‘‘When we asked for our salary of Rs 5,000 each, Mr Sethi denied that anything had been promised except incentives.’’ The employees declared that they would continue their dharna till they were paid their salaries.

After the intervention of the Police, Mr Sethi said: ‘‘I will contact the head office of the company tomorrow in Delhi to enquire whether they could be paid Rs 5,000 each as promised verbally. ’’ He claimed that the company had not signed any agreement with the employees to pay the said amount. 



Mandiv Sapra cremated
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 14
The last rites of the 51-year-old Mandiv Sapra, Delhi-based Executive Director of Group 4 Securitas Guarding who was murdered by his doctor wife, were today performed at Delhi.

An autopsy had indicated two deep injuries on the throat of the deceased with a two-pronged sharp-edged object. Sources in the police said a police party was being sent to Delhi to question his family.

"The result of the samples taken by the CFSL team and the report of the blood and urine sample of the assailant will help us understand the motive behind the murder", said the SHO of the Sector 3 police station, Inspector Jagbir Singh. The possibility of Mandiv being drugged before his throat was slit with scissors is not being ruled out. 




The earth is called the Blue Planet because of the presence of water. However, this, now, has become a myth due to constant depletion of water resources. About 200 million people in our country are facing water crisis. The per person consumption of water which was 5,300 cubic metre in 1955 has dwindled to a mere 2,100 cubic metre in 2003. The irony is that we get ample water supply through precipitation, but we waste about 30 per cent of the accessible water annually.

The need of the hour is to save water. A sound policy for water storage must be implemented taking into consideration both modern and conventional methods. In order to replenish the receding water-table we should plant more trees.

Abhishek Kaushal, Class IX St. John’s High School



UT meeting on celebrations put off

Chandigarh, July 14
A meeting of senior UT officers, which was scheduled to be held today to decide on celebrating the golden jubilee of the City Beautiful later this year, could not take place due to the absence of the Finance Secretary. TNS



Man injured in group clash
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 14
Jaspal Singh, a resident of Gurdaspur, received head injuries in a clash between two groups on the premises of Shri Guru Ravi Dass Bhavan, Sector 20, here this evening. The clash occurred while interviews were being conducted for posts advertised by a Kuwait-based company, National Kharafi.

A local company, SP Singh and Company, had been entrusted with the task of conducting the interviews. The company had contracted Jaspal Singh for the purpose.

The trouble began when Jaspal Singh objected to the rejection of certain candidates by representatives of the company. Narinder Kumar, a representative of the company, had an argument with Jaspal Singh and some candidates. A police party from the Sector 19 police station reached the spot after some time. A case has been registered against Narinder Kumar and three other persons.


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