Wednesday, July 23, 2003, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


35 shops gutted in fire
Tribune News Service

Hard luck

A cosmetics shop of Ms Shakuntala Devi, whose husband had died of a heart attack following the fire incident in 2000, was destroyed in today’s fire, bringing her under a Rs 1 lakh debt.

Ms Devi and her children, 12-year-old Lalit and 14-year-old Vikas, had taken loan from private financiers who charge them Rs 100 per day for 100 days against a loan of Rs 8,700.

The children had to drop out from school after the last fire incident and presently help her mother as well as separately selling goods on rehris.

Chandigarh, July 22
Goods worth lakhs of rupees were destroyed today when around 35 shops at the Janata Rehri Market in Manimajra were gutted by fire early this morning. The market was destroyed by fire around three years ago.

Mr Lakshvir Singh, Junior Engineer at the Electricity Department, said there were rumours that the fire could have been caused for making false insurance claims. He ruled out that it was caused due to a short-circuit in service lines.

A juice vendor, whose shop was among the first to catch fire, claimed to have lost Rs 50,000 cash in the fire and the proprietor of Singla Garments, claimed loss of Rs 15,000.

However, only one shopkeeper in the market had an insurance cover. Shopkeepers alleged the fire was caused by a short-circuit from an electricity pole near a juice shop.

The Fire Wing, whose efforts were appreciated by the victims, deployed 14 fire-engines for the operation that started around 3.30 am and continued for two hours.

The Chief Fire Officer, Mr G.S. Bajwa, said the presence of shopkeepers at the time of the operation led to its success.

Mr Bajwa said as most of the shops were made of tin sheets, fire could have easily spread to other shops before being noticed by the market watchman or nearby shopkeepers.

Mayor Subhash Chawla announced on the spot that as the area fell within the Municipal limit, he would bring a resolution in the House meeting scheduled for July 31 to announce a policy for making these shops concrete. He said the shopkeepers were giving the corporation Rs 100 rent per month.

At a meeting, the Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee president announced Rs 2,000 assistance for those affected shopkeepers who were either widows or had lost their fathers.

BJP local unit’s president Yashpal Mahajan, general secretary Purushottam Mahajan and councillor Rajesh Gupta also assured the shopkeepers of assistance.


Main conspirator in kidnapping case held
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, July 22
The local police today arrested the prime suspect in the case of kidnapping of an 11-year-old child here on July 19.

Mr H.S. Bhullar, SP, said in a press note released here this evening that Surjit Singh Bains, a resident of Phase II, had been arrested on charges of conspiring to get Gagandeep Singh, alias Ginni, kidnapped.

Gagandeep Singh, a student of Shivalik Public School, was kidnapped from Phase IV while he was coming back from school.

Mr Bhullar further said Mr Bains’ daughter had been married to Harvinder Singh, son of Mr Sital Singh, the grandfather of Gagandeep. Harvinder Singh was murdered allegedly by his wife Satinder Kaur, and mother-in-law, Hardev Kaur, last year. Both of them are now in judicial custody and the case is pending in the court.

Mr Sital Singh had expressed suspicion about the involvement of the in-laws of Harvinder Singh, in the kidnapping of his grandson.

The SP said after questioning those arrested in the case of kidnapping the child, the police had come to know that the conspirators had held a meeting before kidnapping Gangandeep. At the meeting Surjit Singh had said by kidnapping the child pressure could be put on the family of Mr Sital Singh apart from extorting a huge sum of money. He said Surjit Singh had also taken the responsibility of bearing the expense of keeping the child after he was kidnapped apart from other expenses.

Mr Bhullar said Gagandeep had also told the police that Balwinder Singh, one of the kidnappers, used to talk about Surjit Singh Bains at the place where Gagandeep was taken after being kidnapped.

The SP said Jitender Singh and Lajjo, who had been arrested by the police yesterday, had revealed during questioning that Balwinder Singh and Surjit Singh had planned that by kidnapping the child they would exert pressure on the family of Sital Singh to go in for a compromise in the murder case filed against the family members of Surjit Singh and also extort a huge sum of money. 


Boy’s kidnappers remanded
Our Correspondent

Kharar, July 22
Mrs Baljinder Kaur Bhatia, Judicial Magistrate, today remanded three accused who were arrested by the SAS Nagar police in connection with the kidnapping of an 11-year-old boy, Gagandeep, in police remand till July 24.

Mr Jatinderjit Singh Punn, Public Prosecutor, pleaded for police remand of the accused, Jatinder Kumar, Lajo and Surjit Singh.

He said that the accused along with others, Balwinder Singh, Mandeep Singh and Anita, had allegedly kidnapped the boy and later he was released.

He said that information was yet to be ascertained from the accused about the other accused. He said that the accused demanded Rs 18 lakh for releasing the boy. He said that the car used in kidnapping the boy was yet to be recovered.

The police has registered a case under Sections 364 and 120-B, IPC, against the accused.

In another case, Mrs Baljinder Kaur Bhatia, Judicial Magistrate, remanded Navdeep Arora, who was arrested on the charge of supplying inferior goods to the government medical colleges in Punjab by the Vigilance Bureau, in judicial custody till August 4.

Mr Jatinderjit Singh Punn, public prosecutor, pleaded for police remand of the accused as information was yet to be got from the accused about the other persons involved in the crime. He said that firms of Dabwali and Bathinda of the accused had supplied inferior goods to the medical colleges. 


Encroachments in Raipur Kalan removed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 22
The demolition squad of the Chandigarh Administration today got illegal brick kilns and about 150 structures vacated from about 35 acres in Raipur Kalan village, near railway station. The land is to be used for the third phase of the Industrial Area.

In a separate demolition drive also carried out today about 16 shops in the furniture market on the road to SAS Nagar were removed as a follow-up action of the previous drive. Several furniture shops which had been removed had reopened in the past two weeks.

The land in Raipur Kalan village was part of the upcoming Phase III of the Industrial Area which will be spread over 153 acres. This is located right next to Mauli Jagran village and is near to the railway station. Three brick kilns and several structures had been built on the land owned by the administration. The land had been acquired in the past one year and compensation had been paid. The people living here were staying illegally.

The physical possession of the land will be handed over to the Engineering Department for the development of the area before work on the Industrial Area and carving out of plots is started. The Engineering Wing will lay down sewer lines, drainage lines, roads and make provision for electricity.

The team demolished structures without any resistance.

Meanwhile, the Federation of Small Scale Industries said the third phase of the industrial area should be developed in a time-bound manner. This would give a boost to the industry in Chandigarh, the federation said.


20 booked for encroaching upon land
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 22
The enforcement wing of the Municipal Corporation today seized two truck-loads of scrap material and booked 20 persons for encroaching upon municipal land in the Industrial Area (Phase I).

The enforcement team led by Tehsildar Bhagwan Dass Vishnoi swooped down on the kabari market to remove the encroachment. Two inspectors attached with the wing, two trucks and police accompanied the Tehsildar. There have been allegations of widespread encroachments in the Industrial Area and officials had been saying the amount of penalty is too low to deter encroachers from using the government land.


Politics of encroachments in City Beautiful
A. S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 22
If the road to Parliament lies through labour colonies of Chandigarh, not many know it better than the local politicians.

For years, they have promoted the creation and growth of labour colonies and slums in and around the city and then nurtured them as their captive vote banks to be utilised at the time of elections. The Administration remains under constant pressure from these politicians to provide water, power, sewerage and other amenities even when it is pointed out that they are illegal and could be demolished any time.

There are about six lakh voters in Chandigarh. According to some estimates, as many as 1.25 lakh voters are now housed in the labour colonies. The voters in the labour colonies, therefore, to a large extent influence the outcome of any election in the UT. In the last Lok Sabha poll, the Congress MP, Mr Pawan Bansal, won by just about 6, 000 votes. Little wonder, the politicians spring to their defence and protect them with all their might whenever they face the threat of demolition from the Administration.

This is what happened when the UT Administration launched a demolition drive in the city recently. Almost all political parties spoke up against the demolitions with the BJP inviting the intervention of the Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Mr I.D. Swami, who dashed to the city from Delhi and told the Administration in no uncertain terms that the drive should be undertaken only when plans for the resettlement of the oustees were in place.

The manner in which the demolition drive was conducted and then called off by the Administration has led to a flaming row between major political parties in the UT. The Congress has alleged that the drive was launched by the Administration at the behest of the BJP and only those labour colonies were targeted which were the traditional vote banks of the Congress. “Their game is clear,” said Mr Pawan Bansal, the local Congress MP while talking to TNS. “Elections to the Lok Sabha are now round the corner. The BJP has, therefore, launched a drive to consolidate its votes and spoil our vote banks”.

In keeping with its policies and programme laid down by Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, the Congress has always paid special attention to the welfare of the poor, backward, labour and the Scheduled Castes, points out Mr Bansal. It is, therefore, sad that the Administration should target them without first making alternative arrangements for them. “It is clear that the Administration is implementing the BJP agenda”.

According to Mr B. B. Behal, President, Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee, the drive has uprooted about 45,000 persons and almost all of them are Congress supporters. “We have been nursing them for years in accordance with the party’s policies and I have been sending reports in this regard to the Congress High Command”, he says.

For the Congress, the labour colony votes are precious. “They are the ones who turn up in large numbers on the polling day and vote en bloc for the Congress. The so-called educated elite of the city have to be persuaded to come and exercise their right to franchise. Little wonder, the polling in labour colonies exceeds 60 per cent while in the city it has seldom been more than 35 per cent”.

The Congress charge that the Administration is implementing the BJP agenda is denied by the BJP. “This is a wrong and false accusation”, says Mr Satyapal Jain, former BJP MP. “The Governor, Justice O.P. Verma (retd) who is also the administrator of Chandigarh, is not a BJP or RSS man. He has been a judicial officer and is totally non-political.”

Mr Jain says that while he is all for the rehabilitation of the oustees of the labour colonies, he is certainly not in favour of converting Chandigarh into a city of slums. “While it is true that my support base is in the city, that is not the reason for the demolition drive against the labour colonies. I will like to know from the Congress leaders if they want Chandigarh to turn into a sprawling slum?”

Mr Yashpal Mahajan, the local BJP chief, says that it is wrong to suggest that the demolition drive was launched at the behest of the BJP. “If this was the case, then why would the BJP go to the extent of inviting Central intervention to have the demolition drive halted? And remember, I was badly injured while opposing one of the demolition operations. All that we want is that the Administration should draw up a proper rehabilitation plan for all those who have been here before 1996 before launching the demolition drive”.

Mr Harmohan Dhawan, a former Union Minister, says that votes from the labour colonies have changed the whole dynamics of elections in the UT. It is but natural for the political parties to vie with each other to woo this sizeable vote bank. He himself has been doing it with great effect and putting up a creditable performance in one election after the other. “But the time has come to cry halt to further growth of the labour colonies. When I was the Union Minister, it was decided that after 1990, no slums and labour colonies would be allowed. All those were here before that date will be rehabilitated.

The then prime Minister, Mr Chander Sekhar came and laid the foundation stone of a scheme at Mauli Jagran. But when Mr Satyapal Jain was elected, the cutoff date was advanced to 1996. It remains to be seen what will be the final cutoff date because the constituency is now represented by Mr Bansal who belongs to the Congress and has different views on the issue”.


Fee hike withdrawal vindicates PU stance
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 22
The decision of the Punjab Government to withdraw the “massive” fee hike is being seen as a victory for Panjab University, which has not yet cleared the revised rates.

The university had called a special meeting to clear the hike but the proposal could not be cleared because almost the entire House, barring a few members, were outright against the proposed hike. It was pointed out that the university had been going in for a 10 per cent annual hike since 1999, which was a justified manner for hike of any sort.

It is however relevant to mention that majority of colleges affiliated with the university, barring a few in the city, have already gone in for the hike. “Will the hiked amount already charged be refunded?”, a university teacher asked.

The UT Administration had also announced the hike, which has been implemented by government colleges and SGGS College. However, there is no news of any development on this account.

Prof K.N. Pathak, Vice-Chancellor, said the choice of the university had been finally upheld. The university had not rejected the government proposal, however, it had also not agreed to enforce the order without clearance from the Senate. He said the current decision upheld the voice of the university House.

Prof Charanjit Chawla said the decision was a welcome one. It was also an important message for the government to pay more heed to education than other sectors and also listen to people than depend solely on bureaucrats for its policies.

Principal A.C.Vaid, GGDSD College, said it was a decision that had been taken though after much delay. The government should never walk away from its responsibility towards health and education. It is surprising that the government was spending more on security and amenities of politicians than it did on education.

Dinesh Talwar, a fellow, who had also aired his dissent in the Senate said the government had reacted prudently. Malwinder Singh Kang, a former president of the campus council, welcomed the government decision.

Ashok Goyal, another fellow, said the government had acted wisely by withdrawing the hike and the UT Administration should also follow suit.


Can PU check private academies?
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 22
Can Panjab University prevent the private academies from “selling education”? The question is relevant following high-levelled university deliberations against private academies which will now be forwarded to the university syndicate for a final decision.

The academies are known to be booming in the university area despite the concern. The “massive” fee hike by Punjab Government has added more fuel to the fire. There has also been a fall in admissions to colleges all over the state.

The facility of private candidature benefits only girls. Girls seeking coaching join academies which charge much lesser than the fees in colleges.

It is relevant to mention that PU has decided to at least double the existing examination fee for private candidates. However, the increase here will be ‘peanuts’ compared to the corresponding hike in the college fees.

PU this time has decided to continue the existing concession of allowing private candidature to girl students, however, certain alterations in the existing rules have been made. The university, however, has no administrative control over the academies.

So it can only make alterations in its existing rules to check their functioning.

The university concern over the academies is meaningless without the government intervention.

The government has not reacted to the issue as yet, so the academies run unhindered. Interestingly, a research scholar of PU said “in wake of the heavy fee hike there was nothing wrong in the academies aiding higher education for girls”.

The issue first cropped at PU in March 2002 when Principal Harmit Kaur, a fellow of the university senate, proposed that “private candidates be not allowed to appear in any university examination as directed by the University Grants Commission in 1996”.

The explanatory note read that “ this practice has caused an abnormal rise of teaching shops for women. These institutions hide the fact that their institutions are not affiliated to any university. They have neither the required staff or the infrastructure”. “This has adversely affected the interest of women colleges during times when they were facing an acute financial crunch”, the note said.

Many academies were misleading the students through false advertisements, it was also pointed out.

PU, on its part, proposed that university should accept the examination forms directly from candidates.

The roll numbers will also be dispatched directly to them. Under the existing conditions, academies got the forms dispatched in a bulk and even managed roll numbers at a common centre.

The private candidates will be required to provide adequate and satisfactory documentary proof of their permanent address as also an affidavit signed by a notary public or an oath commissioner verifying the correctness of the residential address.

The university will design the forms of private and regular candidates, differently using different colours. The university proposes separate examination for these students.

The university also plans to ban all subjects for private students which have an element of practical.


Ranbaxy fails to submit complete documents
Kiran Deep

Chandigarh, July 22
Ranbaxy Laboratories Limited and the Lawyers for Human Rights International (LHRI) have not submitted complete documents required by the Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) of the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) to complete an inquiry into the fire incident that took place on Ranbaxy factory premises in SAS Nagar last month.

Sources revealed that till 5 pm today both Ranbaxy and the LHRI had not submitted complete details required by the ADGP (PSHRC), Mr S.K. Verma, to complete the inquiry. The case will come up for hearing before the PSHRC tomorrow. On July 16, the PSHRC had directed the ADGP (PSHRC) to inquire into the matter and file a reply in the case within a week.

Sources added that in order to complete the inquiry Mr Verma today visited the factory along with a team of experts of the Forensic Science Laboratory, Punjab, and collected samples of burnt material from there. Later in the evening, the samples were sent to the laboratory for examination. Residue collected from the spot will help the expert find out the cause of the explosions and also the nature of the solvents that triggered the explosions.

While directing the ADGP to conduct an inquiry into the case, the PSHRC had ordered that “the ADGP shall submit his detailed report expeditiously and preferably before the adjournment date. He may conduct the inquiry on a day-to-day basis but would see to it that no harassment is caused to any one. Both the parties are directed to co-operate with the ADGP in the inquiry”.

The PSHRC had further said: “If the inquiry is found to be lacking in some aspect, the commission would surely not be stopped from seeking supplementary report on any left aspect from other agencies. Above all, the ADGP would be in a better position to suggest the compensation to be awarded to the residents of adjoining village whose properties have been damaged on account of the incident.”


Youth commits suicide at PGI
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 22
In a late-night incident, a youth, who could not be identified, committed suicide by shooting himself with a country-made pistol on the PGI campus.

The youth, believed to be in his mid-twenties, shot himself near the PGI staff parking lot (near the PGI gate) around 10.30 pm and was immediately rushed to the PGI emergency, where he was declared dead. The suicide note, recovered from his body, said he was taking the extreme step because of personal reasons and he wanted to donate his organs.


Love Letters’, a tale of two hearts
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 22
Good plays, like good actors, are seldom seen. So when something rare crosses the eye, the heart yearns to behold the impression it leaves. Love Letters, the strikingly-poignant tale of love lost and gained, presented in the language of theatre by best actors in the country, created a lasting impression on the conscience of those who witnessed it.

Adding to the finesse of the production, directed by Rahul da Cunha and presented by Rajit and Shernaz Patel, was the freshly-embellished Tagore Theatre. As the love story rolled on stage, the audience could not help being part of the very enactment. The concept could not have been simpler, nor the portrayal and dialogues more engaging. Presented in English, the play was lapped up by one and all, not just for the depth of emotion it conveyed but also for the questions it left unanswered.

The production was a literal treat laid out for the city’s elite by three partners in The Tribune, the Durga Das Foundation and Spice Telecom. The story was fresh and talked of two people — Andy and Malissa — bound by eternal love that took ages to be realised. The players are childhood friends, who had shared their dreams of innocence and who had wished to participate in each other’s lives in some way, at some level. Conflicting interests, however, keep them apart — physically. Emotions still keep them together. And as they express their feelings in one letter after another, their love blossoms, though just on paper.

Punctuated with humour and intensity, the play rested on love letters, written against all odds, in all circumstances. Sun or shade, the two friends write until one day one of them realises that the relationship deserved more than words.

Andy grows to be a senator, a man given to righteousness and rectitude. He gets married and vehemently emphasises his responsibility towards family and country. In the back of his mind, Malissa reigns supreme.

He persists with his fondness by writing letters to her. Malissa, a character played perfectly by Shernaz, on the other hand, throws her life apart. She always loves Andy and makes attempts at confessing this to him. He consciously dismisses her advances, forwarding the logic of conflicting interests.

Beautifully structured, the play builds up like life itself. It throws up challenges in acts before the audience. As the fag end arrives, Andy admits his love for Malissa, but gets too possessed by work to handle the new-found emotion. Wrecked by now, Malissa puts all love letters behind her and withdraws into the shell of death, which she does not even open for the man she lives and dies for. The play was presented in two acts.


Sewage treatment plant for Mohali on cards
Kulwinder Sangha

SAS Nagar, July 22
The much-needed sewage-treatment plant for the town is all set to become a reality with the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) preparing to take the possession of the land for the project shortly.

Reports relating to the Rs 20 crore project are ready with the PUDA authorities. The acquisition process for land near Sector 81 is at an advanced stage. About 35 acres of land falling in Manoli village are being acquired for the project.

Sources say though the total capacity of the sewage-treatment plant is going to be 15 million gallons day (mgd) but in the initial stage only a plant having a capacity of 10 mgd would be made functional. A 5 mgd plant module will be added at a later stage. The total cost of the 15 mgd has been worked out to be about Rs 26 crore.

It is learnt that PUDA has already prequalified three agencies, of which one would be allotted the work after tenders are floated. The agencies are Messers Enviro Control Associates India Private Limited, Surat, Messers Tandon Engineers Private Limited, New Delhi, and Messers GSJ NVO Limited, New Delhi.

Sources say consultants for the project have also been finalised. The firm, Consultants India Private Limited, has already sent the interim detailed project report and the final report is awaited.

It is learnt that the technology for the sewage-treatment plant has also been finalised. It is being set up on the Upflow Anaerobic Sludge Blanket Process (UASB) technology.

Under the UASB technology, the inlet chamber will receive the raw sewage to pass it further to screen channel and subsequently to the detritor tank.

In screen channel floating matter is trapped and removed whereas in detritor tank, grit is removed. The sewage having been treated for screening and grit removal is then treated biologically in UASB reactor. The discharge from the UASB reactor is anaerobic in nature and hence is subjected to pre-aeration. This waste water from the pre-aeration tank is discharged into final polishing unit having one day retention time and the treated effluent overflows from the unit far final discharge.

Sources say the sewage plant will be able to treat the discharge of the town up to Sector 81. Another treatment plant will have to be set up for any further expansion beyond Sector 81 as the natural ground slope is towards the southern side of the town and the present plant will be located upstream.

Earlier, PUDA had decided to set up the plant near Dehri village on the Banur-Landran road. But it was found that the project would not be financially viable as the site was far away from the town.

Mr G.R. Jakhu, Chief Engineer, PUDA, said it had earlier been decided to set up a 75 mgd sewage-treatment plant at Dehri village along with the Chandigarh Administration who had been asked to shift their plant from Sector 66 here as it was falling in a residential area. But as the UT administration backed out of the decision, PUDA decided to shift the site to the present location.


PUDA action on reservation counter ‘unjustified’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 22
Reacting to a news item in The Tribune ‘‘ Puda tells Railways to pay for space ’’ Mr Joginder Singh Bhogal, an activist on railway matters today said it was unfortunate and unjustified on PUDA’s part for not providing free space in SAS Nagar to open a railway reservation counter.

Mr Bhogal , who is a former member of the Zonal Railway Users Consultative Committee, said the agenda to have railway reservation counters in SAS Nagar and Panchkula was taken up by the Railway Ministry in 1998. PUDA’s plea that the Chandigarh Administration was charging rent from Railways was partially correct as rent was being paid for the small space which it had occupied before 1998.

In 1998 the then Adviser to the UT Administrator, Mr Jagdish Sagar had handed over additional space for token rent of Re 1.

Besides this providing facilities like railway reservation counters was an obligatory duty of the state government. The cost for the same has been recovered from the allottees under the head of development costs. 


Slain ASI’s wife sees conspiracy behind mishap
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 22
Ms Victoria, the wife of ASI Mangat Masih, (49), who was killed in a road accident on Sunday, has alleged that it was not a case of accident. She has alleged that three persons who had an old enmity with her husband were behind the accident.

Mangat Masih, who was posted in the CID wing, was returning home on a scooter after attending a marriage function on Sunday morning. He was hit by a vehicle on the dividing road of Sectors 20 and 21. He died on the spot, while his wife and six-year-old son, Justin, who were riding pillion, suffered injuries.

Ms Victoria said her husband had an altercation with three persons during the marriage function. ‘‘The three had an old enmity with my husband and had once even come to blows with him’’ alleged Ms Victoria. She said the enmity started in 1993 when Masih, a gunman with the then Punjab Home Secretary, was kidnapped and tortured. ‘‘He was recovered after a case was registered in this regard,” she said . The case is still pending in a local court.

‘‘While we were returning home on our scooter, I saw a speeding vehicle behind us and I warned my husband’’, said Ms Victoria.

According to police sources, a team of Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) will examine the vehicles owned by the persons accused by Ms Victoria. Meanwhile, a case has been registered.


Other side of the NRI deceit
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 22
Whenever matters close to the heart are surrendered for public scrutiny, some part of the story gets buried in the heap of allegations made and testimonies offered. For some time now the deserted wives of NRI husbands have been seeking legal succour to compensate for the maltreatment meted out to them by their men abroad. Although there is no disputing the fact that these women might have been wronged enough to be led into making their woes public, there is a probability that NRI husbands, in many cases, might also have something to say.

London-based NRI husband of a deserted Balbir Kaur today returned to state the other side of the story. Led by the Lok Bhalai Party head, Mr B.S. Ramoowalia about a fortnight back, Balbir Kaur, alias Ravneet Kaur, had charged Kulwant Singh with bigamy and desertion. She alleged that he never gave her the rights of a wife. Along with other “deserted” wives of NRIs from Punjab, she had met the Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Mr I.D. Swami, on June 19 to tell him the tale of her subjection.

Things would have come to a passé in this personal mess had Kulwant Singh chosen to sit back in London. However, he could not resist the temptation of clarifying his stand and countered allegations at the Chandigarh Press Club today.

Germany-based Kulwant Singh came to India on February 4, 1990 and married Balbir Kaur on February 7. He informed, “I never knew her real name was Ravneet Kaur. She even has a passport by this name. It’s easy to allege that in the 12 years of marriage I did not spend more than 20 days with her, but the fact is that I visited India four times, the first time was just two months after the marriage. Balbir never lived with my parents. I arranged a rented accommodation for her. I opened a joint account for her in Phagwara so that she was not starved of cash in my absence.”

Supporting claims with testimony, Kulwant said his wife had three passports. “In 1991 I shifted base to England; in 1994 I got a permanent visa. While I was in the process of getting Balbir’s papers made, she filed for divorce alleging that I was married to an English woman. As it is easy to malign a woman on grounds of character, it is easy to malign a man too.” Ironically, the divorce petition was finally dismissed because of weak charges levelled against Kulwant Singh.

Meanwhile, Kulwant is busy grappling with another FIR which Balbir has registered against him.


Kwatra becomes ‘messiah’ for youth
Monica Sharma

Chandigarh, July 22
In less than 24 hours after a Panchkula couple — Ajay Kwatra and Manisha Bhardwaj — promised to live together for better or for worse according to Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Christian rites, a social organisation today decided to honour the youth “striving hard to build up strong relationships across the religious lines”.

On the other hand, fashion photographer Kwatra, after attaining the status of a mini-celebrity with his “unique” wedding aired on the television and displayed prominently by newspapers, has become “messiah” for the youngsters eager to marry “outside their caste”.

Talking to Chandigarh Tribune a day after the big event, Mr Kwatra said, “Since morning I have been receiving call after call from boys willing to marry girls belonging to other castes against the wishes of their parents”.

Giving details, he asserted, “They all wanted to know if I could help them out with their future plans of living together by explaining a thing or two to their unwilling parents. Well, I have told them to meet me personally so that I can assist them in whatever manner I can”.

He added: “I am not sure, but I will try to convince parents by telling them the details of our marriage and the support we received from everyone around, including religious leaders and members of the media.

You see, the parents have to be told clearly that all religions are one and the borders have been drawn by man, not God”.

Enthusiastic about his new role of a “saviour”, Mr Kwatra revealed, “I have also been approached by a number of non-government organisations (NGOs). Appreciating my gesture of conveying the message of peace, love, brotherhood and harmony, they said you had set an example for everyone to follow in all times to come”.

Meanwhile, the social organisation — Lawyers’ Initiative — has decided to time and again hold functions where youngsters working towards the creation of better relationships and communal harmony would be honoured.

Organisation co-ordinator Rajvinder Singh Bains asserted, “They are the ones who should be handed over the bravery awards for all they have done for the welfare of the society. That is the reason why we have decided to honour them”.

He added: “Though the modalities are yet to be worked out by our organisation members, we have resolved to honour them at public gatherings so that every one around is made aware of their gestures. This, we believe, will encourage others also to work for the betterment of the society”.


War Wounded Federation to spread wings
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 22
In less than a year since it was established, the War Wounded Foundation (WWF), a voluntary organisation established for rehabilitation of battle casualties, is set to expand its wings. With a couple of success stories under its belt, the foundation will set up regional centres in the country. The north zone office, being set up in Chandigarh is scheduled to be inaugurated on August 4.

Speaking to The Tribune here today, former Vice Chief of the Indian Army and president of the foundation, Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi said since its inception, the foundation had helped rehabilitate over 12 battle casualties, while the application forms of another 25 persons were being processed. The foundation, which was said to be getting a good response from the corporate sector as well as battle casualties, was established on August 28, 2002.

The aim of the foundation is to tap the corporate sector for taking long-term measures for the rehabilitation of war wounded persons by providing them avenues to set up retail outlets for various products in their hometowns.

A majority of our soldiers come from villages, while corporates are focussing on the rural areas as it offers a vast market. The foundation intends to bring together these two entities so that respectable rehabilitation of the war wounded in their own villages or in close-by locations is possible,” General Oberoi said.

About eight noted companies including Appollo Tyres, Pepsi, MICO and Indian Oil Corporation have come forward not only to provide retail outlets for their products to battle casualties, but also to give monetary support to the foundation to enable it to carry out its objectives. “The corporate sector wants to do it. It is not only the commercial factor, but also their social obligation,” General Oberoi remarked.

Some of the companies are also offering additional sops to the war wounded. A leading tyre manufacturer, for instance, which requires retailers to deposit Rs 5 lakh to ensure adequate stocks, is asking battle casualties to pay just Rs 50,000.

General Oberoi said in due course, regional centres would also be set up at Jodhpur, Pune, Bangalore, Kolkata and Chennai. The foundations has already appointed representatives at Jodhpur and Pune. An estimated 40,000 soldiers have been disabled in wars fought since Independence.


Sanitary conditions in Dadu Majra deplorable
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 22
Heaps of garbage with animal and human excreta dotting the streets and lanes and unsafe drinking water supply to over 16,000 residents of Dadu Majra makes the colony vulnerable to outbreak of diseases like cholera and dengue.

In spite of the outbreak of cholera in the area last year, when hundreds of people were taken ill, hardly any efforts have been made to improve the civic amenities and make the place clean, as the threat of outbreak of water and vector-borne diseases looms large.

A study conducted by Ms Reena Christopher from the Community Health Nursing Stream at the National Institute of Nursing Education, PGI, has stressed the need for proper disposal of refuse and providing the residents adequate and safe drinking water. “There is need to plan strategies for improving the prevailing insanitary conditions in the community, which is a must for improving the health of the residents,” she stated in the recommendations made in the study.

During the study conducted two months back, it was detected that a large number of people were still drawing water from hand pumps, which had been banned by the health authorities after the outbreak of cholera in the colony last year. Since presence of e-coli contamination was found in the water samples collected from the area, the residents had been advised not to use water from some of the hand pumps for drinking purpose.

With even the school, dispensary and other government buildings being used as dumping ground, there is need to sensitise the public to at least keep these places clean. It has also been suggested that work groups should be formed so as to plan, supervise and evaluate the sanitation of the area.

Another aspect that came to light during the study was the presence of a large number of disease-carrying flies, which could pose a threat to the health of residents of the area. Though there were 11 public toilets in the area, people had been forced to use open spaces since some of these had been kept locked. 


Expedition to Tiger Hill
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 22
A 14-member team of the Indian Army, along with Hero Honda Motors Limited, will embark on a “unique” road expedition to mark the fourth anniversary of Kargil Vijay Divas and pay tributes to the “Desh ki dhadkan” — the valiant soldiers who laid down their lives in the battle of Kargil.

According to a press release, the team from the 108 Medium Regiment of the Army is undertaking this patriotic motor cycle expedition to mark the fourth anniversary of India’s Kargil victory.

The team would ride Hero Honda motor cycles from Ambala cantonment to Tiger Hill and back, covering a total distance of 2,800 km from July to August. The team will reach Tiger Hill on July 26.

In a press release, the senior vice-president of Hero Honda’s marketing and sales, Mr Atul Sobti, stated: “It is a sincere effort to acknowledge the sacrifices of our soldiers”.


Ensure supply of clean water: DC
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, July 22
In order to prevent the spread of seasonal diseases like cholera, malaria and dengue, the Deputy Commissioner, Mrs Satwanti Ahlawat, today directed the officers of the Health Department, Public Health, the Haryana Urban Development Authority and the Municipal Council to ensure that clean water is supplied to the public.

The DC also directed that road gullies be cleaned so that rainwater did not stagnate on the roads. She directed the Civil Surgeon to constitute teams of doctors to conduct a door-to-door survey and ascertain that there were no cases of cholera, malaria or dengue.

Mrs Ahlawat asked the officers of the Public Health Department to check that there was no leakage from the water pipes and tubewells. She asked the officials to ensure that all leakages were plugged and the drinking water supply was not contaminated.

She further directed the Municipal Council to clean vacant plots of garbage, congress grass and malba, and ensure that sanitation was maintained.


Residents catch monkey in Sector 71
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, July 22
The monkey which was spotted in an area in Sector 71 here last evening was finally caught by four residents of the area this evening by throwing a bedsheet on it.

Children had not come out of their houses since last evening for the fear of getting bitten by the monkey. Some persons tried to chase away the monkey from the area with the help of sticks. Various agencies were called for help but none turned up.

Mr S.P. Singh, a resident of the area, said he contacted the People for Animals Society which told him to contact the District Forest Officer (DFO) at Ropar as it did not have an animal catcher.

He said when he rang up the DFO’s office at Ropar he was told that since nobody from that office could reach SAS Nagar he should contact an office at Kharar. He said he could not contact officials at Kharar as the telephone facility at that office was not available.

He said his wife, Ms Rameesh Kaur, who worked in the UT Secretariat, left late for the office as the monkey was sitting in the front courtyard of his house.


New lights to add to Sector 17 charm
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 22
The Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh is changing the lighting pattern of Sector 17 Piazza to enhance its beauty.

Several companies, including the Bajaj Electricals, have come up with different types of lights.

The companies have shown lamps of different designs to the officials of the Municipal Corporation.

The initiative for changing the lights was taken by the area councillor, Mr Pardeep Chhabra, who had promised to spend Rs 15 lakh on the lighting arrangement of the sector when paid parking scheme was imposed in the sector.

Bajaj Electricals has reportedly fitted a few lamps in the Piazza on an experimental basis and a couple of more companies are likely to do the same within this week for the corporation officials to see which of them enhance the beauty of the market as well as save electricity.

An official said the new lighting arrangement would lead to saving around 60 per cent of electricity bill.

Mr Chhabra said a plan for changing the lights of Shanti Kunj was also being chalked out to beautify one of the best gardens of the Municipal Corporation.


Excellence award for Gurmail Bajwa
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 22
The Friendship Forum of India has selected Mr Gurmail Singh Bajwa, District Youth Coordinator with the Nehru Yuva Kendra, Chandigarh, for the Bharat Excellence award and gold medal, 2003. The award will be conferred on him on July 25 in New Delhi for his contribution to the youth-related programmes in the region.

Mr Gurmail Singh has also been declared “Eminent Personality” by the International Biographical Research Foundation of India, Nagpur. 


Eighty-year-old missing
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 22
Eighty-year-old Bactwari Devi of Ram Darbar has been missing since Friday evening. Her two sons and relatives have made efforts to trace her at all the possible places, including Uttar Pradesh where she could have gone. The police has been informed. Her name is tattooed on her right hand. She was wearing a green printed suit with a red dupatta and yellow sleepers when she went missing. According to Ms Nirmla, her daughter-in-law, she is mentally not stable and was carrying Rs 2,000. 


Talwar reelected Arya Sabha Chief
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 22
Mr Ravinder Talwar, Principal of DAV Senior Secondary School, Sector 8, has been re-elected president of the Kendriya Arya Sabha, Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula (Regd.) for the next two years 2003-2005.

At the meeting held at Arya Samaj, Sector 7, on Sunday he was also authorised to nominate the other office-bearers and executive committee members.


Delhi resident robbed of Rs 35,000, jewellery
Tribune Reporters

Chandigarh, July 22
A visit of two residents of New Delhi to the city beautiful cost them dear. While one lost her cash and jewellery, the other lost his car to thieves. Ms Pritwa Juneja, resident of Mahivir Enclave, New Delhi, became poorer by Rs 35,000 and gold jewellery after these were snatched by two youths from her near the traffic light point of Sectors 17 and 18 here yesterday. Ms Juneja was travelling in rickshaw when the snatching took place. The police has registered a case.

Mr Sanjeev Jain of Vikas Kunj, New Delhi, reported to the police that his Maruti Zen car (DL 9CE 8224) was stolen from Sector 42 on July 18. The police has registered a case.

Meanwhile, a city resident, Mr Manish Nagpal (Sector 46) reported that his Maruti car (CH01D 6799) was stolen from his house on the night of July 14.

Mr B.K. Gupta, Assistant General Manager, SBI, Sector 17 branch, reported to the police that a camera had been stolen from the bank yesterday. A case of theft has been registered.

Car thief held: Yamunanagar resident Baldev Kumar was caught stealing a Maruti 800 car (HR31A 6699) from a parking lot of the Punjab and Haryana High Court here today. He was booked on the complaint of the parking contractor, Mr Gurdev Raj.

The police today also arrested Sanjay of Darua village for stealing an auto-rickshaw and plying it with a fake registration plate. He had installed a number plate (PB10R 2023).

Acting on an information, the police wrote to the transport authority of Ludhiana (PB10 series have been allocated to Ludhiana). Later it was revealed that the number was actually allotted to a Bajaj Chetak scooter of Ludhiana resident, Ms Kushwinder Kaur. Sanjay used to deliver domestic gas cylinders on the auto-rickshaw. A case has been registered.

Smack seized: The Operation Cell of the UT Police today arrested Murtaja Ali of Bereilly, Uttar Pradesh, from near a petrol station in Sector 22 here and claimed to have recovered 165 gm of smack, valued at Rs 2 lakh from his possession.

The police informed that Ali was in the business of drug peddling for quite some time now and his areas of operation were Sectors 37, 38, 22, 23 and Dadu Majra. His modus operandi was simple — he used to roam around in the streets and his customers usually used to approach him.

The police laid a trap and Ali was apprehended while he was crossing the road dividing Sectors 17 and 22.

Impersonators held:
The police today arrested two youths impersonating as cops. The accused — Devi Dayala and his accomplice Suresh — had boarded a Haryana roadways bus and were travelling free of cost after producing a fake identity card.

It is learnt that during a random checking of the bus by the regular checking staff of the Transport Department, the accused were asked to show their tickets. They reportedly told the staff that they were cops and were allowed free travel in buses by the government.

When asked to produce an identity card, Devi Dayal showed an identity card , but the staff decided to verify this from the police. A policeman posted at the bus stand, upon inspecting the card, said this was an old identity card of the Police Department and had since been withdrawn. The duo was arrested

Booked: The police has booked a resident of Sector 8, H.K. Singla, on the charges of duping Mr Satish Aggarwal of Rs 1.04 crore on the pretext of making him a member in a cooperative housing society. The complainant neither got the money nor a flat in the society,.

Recovered: The police has recovered a .315-bore revolver and three live catridges from two residents of Madhya Pradesh — Sanjay and Jaiveer. The two were arrested in Kalka and booked under the Arms Act. 


Man crushed to death
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, July 22
In a freak accident, a helper was crushed to death near truck union office in Sector 20 here late this evening.

According to sources in the police, the incident took place at around 10 pm when the victim, Mukesh, jumped off a vehicle to go across the road.

He was taken to Sector 6 General Hospital, where he was declared brought dead. 


Body found in Sector 26
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 22
An unidentified man in his forties was found dead near Timber Market, Sector 26, here today. Efforts were made by the police to establish the identity of the victim (seemingly a migrant labourer) but in vain. As per police sources, there were no apparent sings of any injury on the body. However, the police has sent the body to General Hospital, Sector 16, for a post-mortem.


CII conference on contract farming
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 22
A competitive agriculture sector under the WTO regime is the biggest challenge for North India. Only an integrated approach from industry, researchers and government will help the farmer improve his productivity, quality and cost competitiveness to attain global acceptance. This will also make rural and agro-based industry more competitive.

In the belief that Contract Farming is one possible way to achieve this goal, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) will organise a one-day conference on “Emerging Opportunities in Contract Farming” on July 24 here. Over 100 delegates from all over the country, including Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, will participate in the conference.

Contract farming is essentially an agreement between farmers and processing and/or marketing firms for the production and supply of agricultural products, frequently at predetermined prices. Invariably, the purchaser also provides some degree of production support through, for example the supply of inputs or technical advice. Such an arrangement is based on the farmer’s commitment to provide a specific commodity in quantities and at quality standards determined by the purchaser.

The CII conference will create a forum for stakeholders to learn from past experiences to identify the contexts in which contract farming is a suitable solution.

It would therefore not only advise existing contract farming companies on how to improve their operations, but also offer guidelines to interested companies, farmers and government officials concerned about situations where contract farming could work and where it wouldn’t.

Some of the issues on the conference agenda are new opportunities under the WTO regime, application of contract farming in different areas, legal issues involved, government support and incentives and the latest R&D work in related areas.


Market Pulse
New range of tiles

Orient Ceramics and Industries Limited (OCIL), an ISO 14001, company and one of the progressively leading ceramic tile manufacturers of the country, has launched its Color Plus range of wall tiles.

The compact tile can be used for a variety of applications, both in homes and offices. The tiles are available in a whole range of colours to suit all types of decor.

“Color plus” range tiles can be blended with different concepts of flooring, wooden interiors or used as base tiles.

Anti-tan cream

Lotus Herbals has launched SafeSun, sun block cream with SPF-3, Parsol 1789 and black plum extract for maximum tan prevention, especially, for the Indian skins.

A tan is the most visible and evident form of sun damage. The UVA component of the UV radiation is mainly responsible for triggering the pigment forming cells, called melanocytes.

These melanocytes produce the skin tanning pigment called “melanin” which rises near the outer layer of skin thus making the skin look darker in colour.

Safe Sun SPF-30 contains a patented ingredient assuring full spectrum UVA production. The black plum extract present in the cream further protects, soothes and nourishes the skin.

New mantra for long black hair

Procter & Gamble, has announced the launch of Pantene Long Black shampoo for long and black hair. The launch of the product is in response to the need for long and uniformly black hair which does not look dull or faded at the tips due to damage. The company claims that the newly launched product with its patented pro-vitamin moist black formula darkens each strand of hair uniformly from root to tip through intense moisturisation, reduces hair damage at the ends and enables women to keep their hair long.

It contains no hair colorants. The unique pro-vitamin moist black complex penetrates hair from root to tip and with regular use helps in strengthening and repairing hair damage at the ends — the reduced hair damage at the ends also gives the hair a healthy gloss and deep black sheen.


City makes big leap in small savings
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 22
Despite cut in the interest rates, the national small savings from the city have touched Rs 130 crore during the financial year that ended on March 31, 2003 as against the target of Rs 98 crore. During the first quarter of this fiscal year, the small savings collections have already crossed Rs 25 crore, said Mr M.K. Malhotra, Regional Director, National Savings, here today.

Speaking at a function held at in Sector 22 Polyclinic, he claimed that the small savings were still the best option for the citizens who were looking for income from interest and tax saving options. The function was jointly organised by the Punjab, Haryana and UT Small Savings Directorate to felicitate the agents.

Mr Malhotra disclosed that under the six-year monthly income scheme, one could get 8 per cent interest rate in addition to 10 per cent bonus on the maturity of the scheme. Under the Public Provident Fund Scheme, he said, the investors could get 8 per cent interest besides income tax exemptions on deposits. Under the deposit scheme for the employees, who wanted to invest their retirement funds, the government was offering 7 per cent interest to be paid on half yearly basis. He said in Chandigarh as many as 600 agents were involved in the collections of savings. These savings were specifically utilised by the state government on infrastructure projects. He said these funds were again given to the state governments as term loan by the Ministry of Finance.

He said the National Savings was the most safe savings plan, as the funds were collected by the Department of Posts on behalf of the Ministry of Finance. Earlier, Mr Hardeep Singh, Special Secretary, Finance-cum-Director, Small Savings, Haryana, said as many as 5.75 lakh employees through 6,000 groups were depositing money in the small savings. Among others, Mr Balwinder Singh, District Savings Officer, also spoke on this occasion. Prizes were given to the best performing pay-roll saving groups from Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh.

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