Tuesday, July 22, 2003, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Kidnapped boy returns
Police on lookout for former cop, 1 kidnapper held
Tribune News Service



SAS Nagar, July 21
Even as 11-year-old Gagandeep was released by his kidnappers near his house this morning, for the Mohali police Gagandeep’s arrival is just the beginning of a manhunt for one of the most dreaded extortion gangs led by a former constable of the Punjab Police operating in the township.

Gagandeep, according to the police, was left near his house by a rickshaw-puller, who was caught by the police leading to the arrest of Jatinder, one of the four kidnappers. However, the kingpin of the gang, Balwinder Singh, a former Punjab Police constable and his friend Anita, a proclaimed offender, along with another member of the gang Mandeep, are on the run. Balwinder, who is related to Gagandeep’s family, and Anita had planned the kidnapping to extort Rs 18 lakh from the family, the police said.


Many of the Mohali journalists boycotted the SSP’s press conference on grounds that they were always kept waiting by him. Today when the SSP arrived 20 minutes late for the conference, most of the journalists decided to walk out. The SP, SAS Nagar, however, got them back.

While one set of relatives of Gagandeep’s family is said to be definitely involved in the kidnapping through Balwinder, the police is yet to ascertain the role of Surjit Singh’s family in the incident. Surjit Singh, father-in-law of Gagandeep’s maternal uncle Harvinder Singh, is one of the main accused in Gagandeep’s kidnapping. Incidentally, Harvinder Singh was murdered allegedly by his wife a year ago.

Claiming that the pressure of the police zeroing in on the gang had made them release the boy, the SSP Ropar, Mr Gurpreet Singh Bhullar, said in such cases kidnappers usually try to get rid of their victims as soon as possible as the victim could be instrumental in their getting caught. ‘‘We should be thankful that the boy is safe,’’he said.

Gagandeep, accompanied by his mother Gurnaam Kaur and grandfather Shital Singh, was allowed to meet mediapersons at the SP’s office here this evening. The child refused to talk to anyone. His mother, however, pleaded that he should not be asked anything as he was still in a state of shock after spending two harrowing days at the various hideouts of his kidnappers and was getting upset on being asked about his experience.

Reconstructing the incident, the SSP said Balwinder Singh’s brother-in-law, Nirmal Singh is married to Shital Singh’s daughter Darshan Kaur. ‘‘As Shital Singh’s daughter was handicapped she was deserted by Nirmal Singh and relations between the families had turned bitter. Balwinder took an advantage of the situation and planned the kidnapping with Anita. Balwinder Singh allegedly has illicit relations with Anita and the two have been living together for over a year now. He has a criminal record since long and was dismissed from police service in 1991,” said Mr Bhullar,

Balwinder along with Anita and two other accomplices — Mandeep and Jatinder — both of whom live in Janta Colony in Chandigarh started planning the kidnapping about a month ago. ‘‘They would note the boy’s daily routine by following him. Anita even visited Gagan’s house twice posing as Asha Rani to see the house and find out who all lived there,’’ said Mr Bhullar.

On the fateful day, the four first waited outside the school for the boy to come out and board the rickshaw. ‘‘Anita even smiled at the child. Then all four of them followed the rickshaw in a white coloured Maruti car and kidnapped the child. They then went into hiding but as we got closer to them, they developed cold feet and asked Jatinder to use his mother Lajjo to send the child back. She in turn contacted a rickshaw puller, Vijay, who left Gagan at his house. Lajjo too is under arrest,’’ said the SSP.

Gagandeep Singh, a Class VI student of Shivalik Public School, Phase VI, was on his way back from school when he was kidnapped on July 19.

Family members of Gagandeep were all praise for the role of the police in the safe arrival of Gagandeep. ‘‘If for every crime the Mohali police works the way it has worked day and night there will be no crime left here. The SSP, the SP and all the other officers have shown exemplary commitment to their duty to ensure the safety of our child.’’said Mr Shital Singh, Gagan’s grandfather.



Transfer of 11 lecturers finalised
Tribune News Service

The transfer of heads of schools, also pending since the schools reopened after the month-long summer vacation, will be made shortly after the meeting of the Departmental Promotion Committee (DPC) slated for tomorrow.

Cases of promotion of 36 masters, mistresses and officiating heads would be taken up at tomorrow’s meeting. The promotions were being withheld following court cases. 

Chandigarh, July 21
After dilly-dallying for over a fortnight, the UT Education Department has prepared a tentative list of 150 schoolteachers and finalised the transfer of 11 lecturers here today.

While formal orders of the transfer of lecturers will be dispatched tomorrow morning, officials of the department sat till late in the evening today to finalise the transfers of masters, mistresses and JBT teachers. These teachers will be issued transfer letters by tomorrow.

The transfers this session have been made under the revised transfer policy, notified by the UT Education Department recently. Earlier, the policy gave a term of five years to principals, headmasters and headmistresses and seven years to lecturers, masters, mistresses and JBT teachers in a particular school which have been extended to a stay period to eight and 10 years, respectively.

The other provisions of the new policy include an annual review to identify surplus posts in schools. Surplus teachers will be transferred to “teacher-deficient” schools under the rationalisation plan. Complaints of teachers by heads of government schools over their “poor performance of their students in examinations” will make the teachers liable to be transferred.

The policy was revised to shorten the list of transfers which were running into hundreds. With the revision, the department has brought down this list considerably, reducing the number from 1,200 to around 150.



Massive water bylaw violations
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
A house-to-house survey conducted by the municipal corporation has found 3910 water bylaws’ violations, posing a major threat of contamination to potable water in Daddu Majra, Kajheri and Palsora colonies.

These violations, mostly water closets on the water supply lines, have come to the notice of the authorities when they were identified as the main cause of the spread of cholera in the city last year.

Daddu Majra, where a person was booked last year for letting his toilet water flow in the water supply line, has been found to be the biggest violator in the survey conducted by the Public Health Department of the municipal corporation, official sources told the Chandigarh Tribune.

Out of a total of 2555 water closets in Daddu Majra, 227 have been found to be in the front of the houses and 1060 in the middle, both sides from where water supply lines pass through.

These water clostes are supposed to puncture the water supply lines, a major cause of contamination.

Only 1268 water closets have been found to be in the backside over the sewerage line as approved by the authorities.

The survey has found 445 hand pumps insalled over the water supply lines and 534 sumps in Daddu Majra, which are also considered possible sources of water contamination as during low pressure, supply lines suck in water collected in the sumps.

It has also found 826 boosters on the supply line affecting the supply. The violations were last year termed as causes of low water pressure and the corporation has now fixed two boosters on trial basis to improve the water pressure, official sources said.

As many as 297 violations have been noticed in Palsora and 255 in Kajheri rehabilitation colonies. The corporation has prepared a list of each house where the violations have been noticed.

The officials who conducted the survey revealed that the water supply line could be three feet below the ground level and when the water closets were built on them, there were chances that they would lead to sewage getting mixed with water supply to pose a danger to the health of the people.

Alarmed at the magnitude of the violations, the corporation has started efforts to prevail upon the people to themselves remove the causes.



World-class experiment going wrong,
says former Chief Architect
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
Mr M. N. Sharma, the first Indian Chief Architect of the Chandigarh Capital Project, has warned that the biggest experiment in contemporary history of planning and architecture represented by Chandigarh faces an uncertain future today, thanks to a combination of factors.

"I feel very concerned about the future of Chandigarh", said Mr Sharma who will turn 80 next month, in an interview with TNS here today. "I joined the Chandigarh Capital project in 1950, and remained associated with it 30 years, including 15 years as its Chief Architect and Secretary, after Pierre Jeanneret and Le Corbusier.

"The progress was unhindered till about 1980 but in the past 20 years or so, Chandigarh has declined progressively due to lack of vision on the part of our politicians and connivance of unscrupulous among the enforcement staff and unmindful residents".

Chandigarh was the biggest experience in the contemporary history of planning and architecture and its results were expected to be very useful for other new cities of the world.

Due to Le Corbusier's participation, Chandigarh was put on the world map. "It is a great pity that city is heading for an uncertain future. I am a very keen observer of what is happening in Chandigarh and its periphery and it makes me very sad to that Chandigarh is heading towards a catastrophe-like situation".

The present administrators of the city, he said, were fully aware of the problems of the city and the region and were doing their best to solve them. "But the situation cannot be reversed unless the general public becomes aware of the consequences of what may happen to the city if the present trends continue. Le Corbusier felt that citizens are the best guardians of the city and, therefore, enunciated a statutes of land based on which edict was framed and displayed for general public as well as the administrators".

Mr Sharma feels that Chandigarh has gone wrong in many ways. The problem of unauthorised colonies which are inhabited by people who are equal to nearly one-third of the population of Chandigarh is the most serious. "And it is not getting resolved because of the shortsightedness of our politicians. In the next decade or so, the demographic equations of the city will change and the politicians who are today shedding tears for them will find themselves outnumbered".

Another serious problem is the unauthorised and uncontrolled construction going on in the periphery, which is even advertised openly, and no action is taken against them by the authorities concerned. Chandigarh will have to bear their burden. Even Panchkula and Mohali do not have adequate civic amenities for their populations which in turn puts pressure on Chandigarh's infrastructure.

Encroachment of land by other unauthorised settlers and neglect of open spaces in the city by the residents themselves is another serious issue.

Defacement of city through hoardings and signboards on most well designed shop-cum-offices (SCOs) in Sector 34, along the Madhya Marg and other median roads is another menace. "They have been designed carefully because of their prestigious locations and it is the duty of the Administration to protect them".

The adoption of the Apartment Act whereby people with large plots can have two flats on each floor was a mistake. "I am seeing the signs of what will completely destroy the basic character of the city and put extreme pressure on already strained infrastructure and civil amenities".

Although no longer associated with the running of the city, Mr Sharma regards Chandigarh as his own baby. As its concerned citizen, he has set up Citizens Forum for Chandigarh Heritage consisting of prominent citizens, judges, architects, administrators, defence personnel and industrialists to highlight various problems of the city and take these up with the Administration.



Airport expansion, but where is land?
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
With air traffic to and from the city over the past few years registering an increase, Chandigarh airport is being expanded to make place for more aircraft as well as to handle additional passenger traffic.

Under the first phase, the airport’s apron (where aircraft are parked) is to be expanded and strengthened so that more aircraft can be handled at a time. Execution of the project is already underway.

“The contract of the work has been awarded to a Delhi-based firm and it is scheduled to be complete within six months,” an official with the Airports Authority of India remarked.

Presently, the apron can accommodate two Boeing 737 or Airbus 320 and a few small aircraft which are normally used by charter companies of private unscheduled operators.

Sources said expansion of the apron is aimed at accommodating at least three Boeings or Airbuses along with other assorted aircraft and helicopters, though officials at the airport are tight-lipped about the exact configuration.

When the airport came up in 1974, there was just a couple of odd flights in a week. Now the scenario is undergoing a sea change. Two scheduled airlines are operating daily flights, with more expected to come in.

“Over the past few years there has been significant growth in civilian air traffic out of the Chandigarh airport,” an airport official remarked. Earlier, there was just one operator, Indian Airlines (IA). Now apart from IA, Jet Airways is also a regular operator. Since private airlines are also growing one has to keep in mind that they may want to start flights to and from Chandigarh,” he added. A local airport source confirmed that one private airline has sought details from the Airports Authority of India on operating flights to and from Chandigarh.

Also, Chandigarh airport is witnessing an increase in the number of smaller, privately owned or chartered flights. Though exact figures are unavailable, airport sources put the air traffic growth in this segment at Chandigarh at 10 per cent per annum.

The airport building too is stated to be in for modernisation to increase its passenger handling capacity and offer additional facilities to those passing through it. Presently, it can handle about 100 departures and 60 arrivals at a time. A proposal envisions the capacity to be increased up to 400 passengers.

Though the airport occupies a strategic location and is equipped with advanced navigational as well as landing aids such as VOR, DME and ILS, its scope of expansion is limited due to non availability of land. It is primarily an Indian Air Force airfield, with the civilian terminal attached to it to handle passenger traffic.



Train to Chennai a few weeks away
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
The train between Chandigarh and Chennai, announced in the Railway Budget in February, is only a few weeks away.

Chandigarh Railway Station has berthing space for only three trains at a time. The problem will arise on Sundays as three trains are already scheduled to be berthed here. These are: the Chandigarh-Lucknow Sadhbhawna Express, which arrives here at 8 am and is here till 8 pm, the Janshatabadi and the Chandigarh and Ambala. Now if the Chandigarh- Chennai train berths here, one of the trains will have to be moved to Kalka.

The train (6034 Down) will leave on Mondays at 7.10 am and reach Chennai on Sundays at 6 am.

The 6033 Up coming from Chennai will stop at Saharanpur and reach Chandigarh via Delhi. At Saharanpur, 11 of the coaches would be routed towards Dehra Dun and the rest would be brought to Chandigarh.



Study: more women take to sex-selection drugs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
The desire to have a respectful existence in the house makes more than 70 per cent rural women in UT prefer having a for a male child for which they even take sex selection drugs, that are becoming increasingly popular amongst those wanting to deliver a son.

The study conducted by PGI’s Community Medicine Department in rural Chandigarh, indicated that it was not just the husband and mother-in-law who craved for a male issue, but women themselves too preferred to have a son. The study was conducted by PGI for the Department of Science and Technology, under which more than 1,500 women were covered.

The latest figures indicate that the sex ratio in UT is the lowest at 772, 874 in Punjab and 861 in Haryana. According to the Centre for Women Studies, at Panjab University, seven districts of Punjab and three of Haryana had the lowest sex ratio in the country as per the 2001 census.

“The results of the study indicated that 11.4 per cent of the pregnant women covered under the study went in for sex determination test, usually conducted at private hospitals,” informed Dr Amarjeet Singh, Additional Professor in the Community Medicine Department. In a majority of the cases, it was the husband who insisted on going in for the test.

Dr Amarjeet Singh, said only a small percentage of these women admitted to having aborted the female foetus, which he felt was under estimation, as indicated by the continuously falling sex ratio. Some of these women, he added, had gone in for abortions on earlier occasions also.

During another study conducted by the Community Medicine Department in some Haryana villages, it was found that a large number of women from practically every section of society, were taking sex selection drugs being offered by ayurveda practitioners and people practising alternative systems of medicine. “According to studies conducted by our staff in six villages of Haryana, 40 per cent women admitted having taken sex selection drugs and felt that they had worked,” said Dr Amarjeet Singh.

He said the prominent ayurvedic practitioners in the area when asked about sex selection drugs, said though the practice had been there since centuries in ayurveda, but they did not advocate it. “Some herbal drugs are being given to women, wishing to have a male child and when we got seven samples tested, three were found to be having high steroid content,” said Dr Amarjeet Singh.

Doctors feel that though even the western world has been experimenting with sex selection drugs, but they do it before the foetus is formed through chromosomal and genetic manipulation, which does not affect the foetus adversely.

Quoting a US study, doctors said it was found that Asians and other ethnic groups in the USA showed a preference for male child, while the whites had no particular preference, rather they were happier to have a female child.



Fighting a lone battle for justice
Tribune News Service

Chowki (Panchkula), July 21
His soul will not rest in peace, if those who killed him are allowed to go scot-free. I will leave no stone unturned to seek justice for my dead husband , says 45-year-old Gurpal Kaur, who has been fighting a lone battle against certain “influential “ villagers, who she alleges had killed her husband two years ago.

The woman has been running from pillar to post in her pursuit of justice. She alleges that her husband, 45- year- old Balwant Singh, was done to death allegedly by their neighbours on April 7, 2001. Balwant Singh had in an inebriated condition, misbehaved with the neighbours’ wife. She now says that the accused are threatening her with dire consequences, in order to pressurise her into withdrawing the criminal complaints against them.

Gurpal Kaur, who works as a daily wager in this non-descript village in order to raise her two sons and a daughter, says that she has filed complaint cases in the district courts at Panchkula, as well as the Punjab and Haryana High Court. “Even as I wait for the case to reach a logical conclusion, the accused have started threatening me to withdraw the cases. Being a single parent, I fear for the safety of my children,” she says.

Narrating the sequence of events of April 7, 2001, she says that her neighbour Krishan Kumar and his wife, Bimla, had invited the victim Balwant Singh for their son’s birthday celebrations. “It was strange that they sent messages so many times to invite him over. My husband finally went there and the celebrations, including wining and dining, continued past midnight. Other than Krishan Kumar and his wife, Bimla Devi, Krishan’s brother, Rattan, and two other villagers — Fakira and Mukhtiar — were also present in the party,” she says.

Ms Gurpal Kaur says that it was in the wee hours on, April 8, 2001, that she heard a knock on the door. “As I opened the door, Krishan’s son, Parveen told me that my husband had died and his body was lying in their backyard. He asked me to lift the body and bring it home. I was too numb to react. I could not fathom how my husband had died at a birthday party.”

She says that she was numb with grief and did what the village elders told her to do. “The village elders asked me not to call the police. They said if I got a post-mortem examination conducted, the doctors would spoil his body. They did not even give me sufficient time to call my relatives and seek their advice. Instead they hurried with the funeral. It was after several days that I learnt that my husband, in an inebriated condition, had urged Krishan’s wife to dance with him. This had led to an altercation and a scuffle between Krishan, his brother Rattan and my husband leading to his death.

She says that after knowing the truth she approached the local police, administration and even sent letters to the Chief Minister and Governor of Haryana. “An inquiry was marked into the case, but the police said there was no evidence against the accused,” she said.



Abandoned infant dies
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 21
The newly born male child who was found abandoned in a wild growth near Sector 41 Government Model School on July 15, died at General Hospital, Sector 16, this morning. Sources said the child was unwell and was believed to be born premature.

As per the police the infant was doing fine at the Missionaries of Charity in Sector 23 where he had been sent, but developed some complications on July 17.

He was rushed to the hospital the same day under the supervision of a woman constable, deputed to look after the infant at the charity home.

On Tuesday last, an STD operator, Kulwant Rai had noticed the infant wrapped in a white cloth, lying in the bushes and had informed the police.

Meanwhile, the police was trying to trace the parents of the infant. A case of abandoning a child at a public place has already been registered at the Sector 39 police station.



World Bank aid for four-laning highways
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, July 21
The Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MRTH) has decided to seek aid for the four-laning work on 131 km of two National Highways in the region from the World Bank.

Senior officials in MRTH informed TNS yesterday that the detailed engineering for the two four laning projects — about 73 km of National Highway-21 (NH-21, from Chandigarh to Kiratpur) and 58 km of NH-22 (Ambala to Kalka) was almost complete. The project report on the four laning of the two highways, with cost estimations, will now be sent to the World Bank. The projects, once sanctioned, are likely be taken up in the current financial year.

A team of officials from MRTH led by Chief Engineer A.P. Bahadur toured the region for three days from July 16 to 18, to check the road alignment and other detailed engineering prepared by the consultants. It is learnt that some minor changes in the road alignment for NH-21 has been suggested, before the final report is tabled before the Department of Economic Affairs to be forwarded to the World Bank.

It may be noted that MRTH had earlier decided that the four-laning of all National Highways in the country be handed over on a build operate and transfer ( BoT) basis. While 10,000 km of National Highways would be handed over to private entrepreneurs for four laning, it was decided to seek World Bank aid for four National Highways across the country, including NH-21 and NH-22.

The scope of work for these highways would include rehabilitation and upgradation of existing two- lane section to four lane divided carriage way, rehabilitation of existing pavements, construction of major and minor bridges (including railway overbridges), culverts, road intersections, interchanges and drains.

These two highways in the region had been chosen on a priority basis after the traffic census on both the highways was found to be over 20,000 Passenger Car Units ( PCU) on an average each day, which includes both light weight and heavy weight vehicles.

Officials also inform that the four-laning of Kalka-Shimla stretch of National Highway was also on the anvil. Because of the high gradient of the road, the cost of four laning was astronomical, so the Ministry was now looking for external agencies like Government of Japan for funding the project.

Senior officials in MRTH say that the base construction cost for four-laning the Chandigarh- Kiratpur section of NH- 21 would vary from Rs 3 crore to Rs 4 crore per km, but the same for the stretch on NH-22 from Ambala to Kalka will be Rs 6 crore per km. The cost of construction for the four laning of Ambala-Kalka highway was more, primarily because this includes the cost of construction of 14.31 km bypass to Pinjore and Kalka.



Don’t make mockery of bravery

WHEN a soldier exhibits bravery while fighting against the enemy, he is given a gallantry award — Param Vir Chakra (PVC), Maha Vir Chakra (MVC) or Vir Chakra (Vr C), according to the degree of his valour.

The low-intensity conflict (LIC) has thrown up a situation in which the thin line between war and LIC gets obliterated to the disadvantage of the brave soldiers. Of many such examples, only one is quoted here. The late Capt G.S. Suri of the Army Ordinance Corps (AOC), who was on attachment with 12 Bihar in J&K, was the “ghatak” platoon commander of the unit.

In a raid on a Pakistani new post in the Pir Panjal ranges on November 9, 1999, he led his platoon while clearing enemy bunkers. He killed three enemy soldiers and silenced a machine gun. In this process, he was wounded twice but he refused to be evacuated and continued to exhort his men until he breathed his last. For this gallant action, he was awarded the MVC posthumously. The last paragraph of his citation reads: “Captain Gurjinder Singh Suri, thus, displayed conspicuous bravery and junior leadership of the highest order in the face of the enemy and made the supreme sacrifice”.

In a letter dated October 27, 2000, the Adjutant-General’s Branch, Army Headquarters, had informed the then Colonel of the Bihar Regiment: “The casualties that occurred in Op Vijay (Kargil) are considered to be in war-like engagements and qualify for a grant of Rs 10 lakh as ex-gratia, while the casualties that occurred in Op Vijay (Op Rakshak) are entitled to an ex-gratia relief of Rs 7.5 lakh”.

Bravery in the face of the enemy is bravery, irrespective of when it is displayed. Not to treat it as such amounts to insulting it.

Transfusion centre

Little is known about the Armed Forces Transfusion Centre (AFTC) located in the Delhi cantonment. It was raised in Poona (now Pune) in March 1948, and was shifted to Delhi in 1953. This centre has not only grown but has also been modernised over the year. It provides transfusion services to serving soldiers and their families.

The AFTC had established a haematology laboratory to carry out specialised investigations and microbiology laboratory to test blood donors for hepatitis-B in 1970 and 1972, respectively. Then in 1989, a centre for AIDS was established to screen HIV cases in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

Since 1993, the AFTC has been designated as the Zonal Blood Testing Centre and HIV Surveillance Centre by the National AIDS Control Organisation. This centre carries out AIDS surveillance in collaboration with the ICMR, AIIMS and National Institute of Communicable Diseases.

The centre has rendered commendable services to wounded soldiers. The centre also trains postgraduate students of pathology as well as laboratory assistants.

Health scheme form

Not knowing that the application form issued to them recently for becoming members of the Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) has already been changed, most of the Army pensioners are filling the old form. They came to know about the change only after completing all formalities and visiting the respective station headquarters to enroll themselves as members. This causes them a lot of inconvenience. Most of them wonder why was the first form issued in haste without giving a proper thought to the basic points.

The new form is meant to be fed into a computer to avoid delay in processing of a large number of cases and for keeping a computerised record of all members.

Air travel discount

Winners of Param Vir Chakra, Ashok Chakra, Maha Vir Chakra and Kirti Chakra are now entitled to a 75 per cent discount in fare instead of 50 per cent earlier in the normal economy class on Indian Airlines domestic flights.



IOC relief for disabled defence personnel
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
In a step towards fulfilling its social obligations, Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) handed over a cheque for the rehabilitation of war wounded and disabled defence personnel to Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi, former Vice Chief of the Army Staff, at a function held here today.

General Oberoi is president of the War Wounded Foundation (WWF), which is working actively towards integrating disabled soldiers into the civilian mainstream.

The cheque was handed over by Mr P S Ahluwalia, IOC’s Executive Director from Mumbai. IOC General Manager, Mr D P Vaed and a host of senior company functionaries and representatives of WWF were also present.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Ahluwalia said that Indian Oil had succeeded in providing individual-centric, sustainable, and most importantly, localised rehabilitation solutions to the war wounded.

Lauding the role of Indian Oil, General Oberoi recalled the long association that Indian Oil has had with the defence forces in maintaining the supply line of petroleum products in the face of all odds.

A company spokesperson said that in order to ensure that disabled ex-servicemen lead a life of dignity and respect, IOC is assisting the foundation to turn them into entrepreneurs. The company is assisting them in setting up outlets for lubricants in their home town, which helps them earn their livelihood with self-respect. In fact, the rehabilitated ex-servicemen are proving to be role models for disabled soldiers across the country.



Rehabilitation of migrants opposed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
The president of the local unit of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Mr Gurpartap Singh Riar, here today opposed the rehabilitation of migrants in the city and urged the Chandigarh Administration to leave it to the time when the disputed city is transferred to either Punjab or Haryana.

“The rehabilitation of those who encroach upon the government land will amount to the law-breakers being rewarded and if it is to be done, it should be left to the state to which the city will be transferred,” Mr Riar told a press conference.

He said the rehabilitation of only those should be allowed who were displaced from their own states. Mr Riar said the rehabilitation of migrants at the cost of the locals was a conspiracy to change the demography of the city to create a vote bank.

He said both Congress and the BJP were encouraging encroachment on government land despite making a contrary claim.

Mr Riar said in the coming Lok Sabha elections, Mr Satyapal Jain would not be able to get the BJP ticket.



2,500 saplings planted in Police Lines
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 21
As many as 2,500 saplings of different varieties of trees were planted as part of the ‘van mahotsav’ celebrations of UT Police in Police Lines, Sector 26, here today. There are also plans to plant 5,000 more saplings in the various police colonies, stations and posts during the ongoing monsoon season.

The chief guest Mr Virender Singh, Adviser to the UT Administrator, also planted a sapling in front of the multi-purpose hall in the Police Lines. Mr Rajesh Kumar, IGP, was present on the occasion.



House building society office-bearers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
Mr Daljit Arora and Mr Sukhdev Lal have been elected President and General Secretary, respectively, of the Progressive Cooperative House Building Society, Chandigarh.

The following are the other office-bearers: Vice-President — Mr Anil Sharma; Treasurer — Mr Raj Kumar Bansal; Executive Members — Mr S.D. Sabharwal, Mr Harish Khanna and Mr Kuldeep Singh Bhatt.



Indian Airlines offers new packages to
boost air traffic
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
With the fall in air traffic during the rainy season, Indian Airlines has come up with new packages and discounts on the Chandigarh-Delhi route to boost its business. It is offering discounts to individual and corporate customers. With the increasing competition from Jet Airways, IA is offering new fares and discounts in the cargo transportation.

However, the tourist operators lament that though Chandigarh is emerging as a major business and education centre of North India, the flight operators have not so far succeeded to cash in on the growing business from the travelling community.

They complain that due to the lack of adequate demand, and stiff competition from Shatabdi and Jan-Shatabdi trains, the air traffic has not picked up during all these years.

Ms Monica Verma, Area Marketing Manager, Indian Airlines, claimed that the air traffic usually picked up during the summer vacations and on particular occasions.

She said Indian Airlines was offering various packages to the individuals and corporate customers, apart from focussing on customer care service to fetch more business.

She said Indian Airlines’ current packages included promotional package of Rs 2,500 fare for Chandigarh-Delhi route as against Rs 3,010 fare otherwise. Further, she said: ‘‘We are offering a fare of Rs 2,285 for Chandigarh-Delhi provided tickets are booked seven days in advance, and even up to Rs 1,555 fare per seat if the tickets were booked 21 days in advance.’’

She admitted that the weekly flight from Chandigarh to Leh too did not attract adequate passengers at times when the road routes were open.

However, during exam days, when there was a heavy rush of students, she said, ‘‘we have to make arrangements for additional flights. Similarly to meet the demand from Amarnath pilgrims Indian Airlines is operating special flights from Chandigarh to Srinagar.’’

The insiders point out that since the Indian Air Force was not permitting the landing of flights during night time at the local airport so new flights could not be started from here.

The officials at the airport admitted that though the traffic through private chartered planes had increased by about 10 per cent during the past three years, there was little scope for increase in air traffic unless the government and private sector came forward with some innovative plans.

Indian Airlines officials disclosed that against a capacity of 145 seats, it was running its Chandigarh-Delhi flight with 30-40 passengers besides 10-15 tonnes of cargo. Similarly, the Jet Airways was running its 62-seater flight with 50-70 per cent utilisation.

Ms Verma disclosed that between Chandigarh and Mumbai, the Indian Airlines was offering freight charges of Rs 37.45 per kilogram for cargo weighing up to 45 kg, Rs 34.95 per kilogram for cargo up to 100 kg, Rs 32.45 per kilogram for cargo up to 250 kg and just Rs 29.95 per kilogram for cargo up to 500 kg.

The passengers could also get up to 50 per cent discounts at Taj and other hotels in metros and semi-metros, provided they purchased return tickets in advance.



Hike in steel prices worries chamber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
The Chamber of Chandigarh Industries Association has expressed concern over the unprecedented increase in iron and steel prices by Steel Authority of India Ltd and Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd. It has claimed that the prices of MS round, wire round, billet, angle, channel and joists have increased by Rs 2,800 to Rs 3,000 per metric tonne in the past six months thus affecting the SSI sector.

Mr A.L. Aggarwal, general secretary of the Chamber of Chandigarh Industries, in a press note issued here today demanded maintenance of consistency and transparency in the fixation of the rates of steel so that small-scale units could plan production in time and execute time-bound supplies. The chamber has demanded immediate withdrawal of price hike so as to give respite to the industry.

It pleaded that if the main producers continued to play their roles as at present, the small-scale industrial units would have to close down their shutters owing to price increase, thus putting the whole economy in shambles.

Mr Aggarwal claimed that large scale exports of iron and steel by the main producers to China to the tune of 40 per cent of the total production during April and May had resulted in the increase in prices in the domestic market.

He disclosed that China and the USA had emerged as the largest markets for Indian steel, besides Africa and south-eastern Asian countries. Due to high level of unfinished raw steel exports, he said, the Indian industry was facing scarcity of raw material and increase in raw material costs.


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