Tuesday, July 29, 2003, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


DIG’s car hits Army truck carrying schoolchildren
Our Correspondent

  • DIG’s defence: lights were not working.
  • Army personnel: not true, car jumped lights

Chandigarh, July 28
Twentyone schoolchildren were injured when an Ambassador car being driven by a Deputy Inspector-General of Police reportedly jumped the Sectors 27 and 28 traffic lights and rammed into an Army truck carrying schoolchildren at 6.30 am today. However, the police maintains the lights were not functional at that time.

Luckily, all 43 children in the truck escaped with minor injuries, but the DIG, Mr Siddharth Chattopadya, was admitted to the PGI with a fractured arm. A gunman of the DIG was also injured. The driver of a CTU bus, Mr Hakam Singh, into which the truck collided, also sustained injuries.

Mr Chattopadhya, posted in the Punjab Vigilance Bureau, was on his way to the railway station to catch Shatabdi Express while the Army truck was ferrying children to their respective schools in Chandi Mandir when the mishap occurred

Mr Chattopadhya, talking to this correspondent, said he was driving the car but refuted allegations that he had jumped the lights.

‘‘In fact, the traffic lights were not working and only the amber light was blinking,” he claimed. However, the Army truck driver and the personnel present at the site claimed that the VIP had jumped the lights.

They alleged that the DIG tried to escape, but could not do so. A livid Mr Chattopadhya rubbished the allegation. “Why would I try to run away. The door of my car got jammed at I was extricated by passersby.”

The police has booked both parties under Sections 279 and 337, IPC. Interestingly, the FIRs only mention the registration numbers of the vehicles involved in the accident and no names of drivers.

All children in the age group of 5-15 years were students of Kendriya Vidyalya No. 1 and 2 at Chandi Mandir.

The impact of the accident was so intense that the car almost took a 360-degree turn and the truck banged into a CTU bus (route no 141). Eyewitnesses said had the truck not rammed into the bus, it could have overturned.

The injured children were rushed to Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, from where they were shifted to the Command Hospital at Chandi Mandir. They were discharged in the afternoon. Sources at the GMCH said some children were given stitches. Most had received bruises.

The GOC-in-C, Western Command, Lieut-Gen S.S Mehta, along with his wife, Ms Madhu Mehta, visited the children at the hospital.

Army personnel at the accident site alleged that Mr Chattopadhya was driving the car at speed when it jumped the lights. They said the truck driver, Mr S.S Gurjar, should be awarded as his presence of mind had saved the lives of the children.

Mr Chattopadhya, when contacted in the PGI, claimed that he had stopped his car at the red light on the road dividing Sectors 19 and 27. “The lights had not yet become functional. It was the truck driver who was at fault,” he argued.



Allotment of sites to schools delayed
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
The shifting out of schools from residential areas is unlikely even in the next academic session with letters of allotment of school sites elusive and a mud-slinging match of sorts on at the Estate Office.

Delaying the allotment are a series of representations by and against educational societies which have made their way to the allotting authorities. Sources in the Estate Office said that the duplicacy of members in educational societies “eligible” for allotment was hampering the process.

Of the 21sites advertised by the Estate Office last year, three sites meant for high schools were immediately handed over to the allottees. However, the same does not hold true for the remaining 18 sites meant for nursery and primary schools, the fate of these undecided in the face of these representations.

Allottees of these sites, picked up through draw of lots from among the parties screened by a high-level committee chaired by the Education Secretary and comprising the Finance Secretary, Deputy Commissioner, the Chief Architect, among others early this year, are still awaiting their letters.

While sources in the Administration and Estate Office said that the only possible solution would be to extend the April 30, 2004, deadline they were mum over when the allotment letters would be issued.

This has put a question mark on the fate of the existing 40-odd schools operating from residential areas with nearly 25,000 children. The deadline of April 31, 2004, set by the UT Administration for the shifting out of these residential schools is running out and no solution seems in sight.

However, the allottees claim that by no stretch of imagination can the plans be approved and schools constructed by the next academic session.



Three more doctors resign
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
The Chandigarh Administration is likely to ask doctors who have resigned to deposit three months’ of wages, as per the rules, before accepting their resignations.

Meanwhile, three more doctors, including the Director, Family Welfare, Dr M.P. Minocha, resign today. He is the seniormost doctor in the UT cadre.

The acceptance of the resignations on or before July 31 becomes critical as the doctors will be eligible for enhanced pensionary benefits in case these are accepted. Sources said the resignations may not be accepted if the Administration perceives a shortage of doctors and it is felt that work may suffer if several doctors leave in one go.

If the resignations are not accepted those nearing retirement stand to lose anything between Rs 3,000-Rs 4,000 per month in the pension amount. Some senior doctors would suffer a loss ranging between Rs 6,000-Rs 10,000, depending on the number of years in service.

The resignation have been triggered by the decision of the Punjab Government to withdraw non-practicing allowance to doctors. Today Dr M.P. Minocha, Director, Family Welfare Bureau, Dr Ajay Goel posted at the Health Centre in Mani Majra and Dr Y.P. Singla from the Punjab AIDS Control Society put in their papers.

Among the doctors who have sought pre-mature retirement are Dr J.K. Kalra, Assistant Director, Malaria, Dr Gurdip Kaur, Head Gynaecology, and Dr Rupinder Kaur, Head, Paediatrics, Sector 16, General Hospital.

Dr C.P. Bansal, Director, Health Services, UT, when contacted said he had forwarded the resignation papers of all doctors and it was for the Administration to take a decision.

Dr Kalra and Dr Goyal from the Punjab cadre are on deputation in Chandigarh. Their papers have been forwarded to the Punjab Government. In the case of UT doctors their papers have been sent to the Secretary, Health, Mr Karan Avtar Singh.

Sources said more doctors, especially those nearing retirement, were likely to seek retirement to avoid loss in pension.



College to release wages
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
The management of Guru Gobind Singh College, Sector 26, will release the salaries of the teaching and non-teaching staff tomorrow. The decision was conveyed to the Principal, Mr P.S. Sangha, after the management had met with the faculty and Principal.

When contacted, Mr Sangha said that the management had indeed passed on such an order to him. The grants would, however, be released after the college had submitted all records to the DPI (Colleges).

The decision to release the salaries for June was taken after Chandigarh Tribune published a report under the headline “Aided colleges in a spot”. The report highlighted that the college staff had been denied wages because of a tussle between the management and the Principal.

The report also mentioned that the staff at Guru Gobind Singh College, Sector 26, which is also managed by the Sikh Education Society, had received all salaries.



Now, permanent Provident Fund cards
Rajmeet singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
The Regional Provident Fund Commissioner here will issue a permanent number on the pattern of the Permanent Account Number (PAN) by the Income Tax Department. It is a national-level project to be implemented in phases throughout the country.

Having security features like impression of fingerprints, a photograph and other personal details, the permanent account number will enable the provident fund subscribers to settle claims in a short period. Even when a PF subscriber changes his or her job, the number will not change, ensuring continuity in service in the records of the Provident Fund Department. It would also ensure retirement benefits to the subscribers.

Code-named as Business Process Reengineering(BPR) by the Union Labour Ministry, the project will benefit over 3 crore subscribers to the PF schemes in the government and private sector. Around 20 lakh employees alone in Punjab and Chandigarh would directly benefit from the project, said Mr NN Sharma, Regional Provident Fund Commissioner.

“There is difficulty in remembering the subscribers. But once the permanent number is issued, we will directly interact with our subscribers”, said Mr NN Sharma. The permanent number card — accessible anywhere in the country through a national database — will enable the PF Department to interact directly with its subscribes instead of the existing practise of the department reaching to its subscribers through the employers.

This means that if a subscriber to the PF schemes moves from one corner of the country to the other, the continuity of the record of the PF savings will remain unaffected.

In the first phase, permanent number cards are being issued to subscribes covered by the branches of the PF Department at Kota, Indore, Delhi, Manglore, Patna, and Hyderabad. The regional office of the PF Department is to be covered under the second phase, though the time schedule has not been worked out yet.

Sources in the regional office of the PF Department said once the permanent number was issued, PF claims would be settled in three days. Under the project, the entire system was being reoriented. Computer networking would enable a centralised system of accounting and payments. All 17 regional offices and sub-offices of the PF Department would be covered under the project.

The sources said with the help of IT professionals, a software was being developed to built a national date base.



Police fails to trace computer trader
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
The UT police has not been able to trace the whereabouts of Mr Jordan Loyal, a local computer trader who had allegedly duped many computer hardware dealers of the city of lakhs of rupees and later shut his business.

However, an alert has been sounded at the international airports of the country so that he is not able to flee to some other country, according to police sources.

A complaint of cheating was lodged against him at the public window system of the UT police by the Association of Computer Traders and Professionals last week.

It was alleged that his firm, Fair Brothers Marketing owed Rs 63.10 lakh to 14 local computer hardware dealers. However, local computer dealers feel that the total amount of fraud may run into several crores.

During preliminary investigations being conducted by the Economic Offences Wing of the UT police, the passport numbers of his wife and two children have been found. However, Jordan’s passport number was yet to be obtained from the local passport office.

The sources said the passport number of his wife Schitra Loyal was B-3235935, daughter Gunjan’s B-2837697 and son Subham’s B-2837698. All passports were made in 2002 at the Regional Passport Office, Chandigarh.

The police has also come to know that Jordan Loyal’s passport had a valid immigration clearance for Switzerland, but this being verified.

Meanwhile, it has been found that Loyal, after selling his Sector-43 flat on July 19, left the city with the help of his in-laws who live in New Delhi. However, when contacted, Mr M.B. Davre, father-in-law of Loyal, refuted the allegation.



Ad hocism bane of UT Administration
A.S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
Ad hocism which has come to dominate the functioning of the UT Administration has once again been highlighted by the judgement of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Sukhna Lake, which has brought a quick end to its attempts to find quickfix solutions to longterm problems of the City Beautiful.

The problem of silting in the famous and popular water feature of Chandigarh is not new. Year after year, the Sukhna Lake has been losing some of its depth and despite best efforts, the UT Administration has been unable to come up with an effective and longterm solution to the problem.

The recent order by the high court directing the UT Administration to ensure that the water level in the Sukhna Lake does not rise beyond the one fixed by the Bhakra Beas Management Board, has come as a great setback to the Administration.

As one officer in the Administration, who did not want to be identified for obvious reasons, put it, the basic problem is one of decision-making in the UT Administration. “There is no long-term perspective on the major problems of the UT. While the problems like silting of Sukhna Lake or projection of Chandigarh as an independent tourist destination and development of UT as a IT city require long term planning and vision, those who are charged with the task of conceiving and implementing the plan have a rather limited tenure in the UT.”

It is pointed out that all top positions in the UT, including the Adviser to the Administrator, Home Secretary, Finance Secretary, Deputy Commissioner and several others are occupied by deputationists either from the Government of India or from Punjab and Haryana. Their average stay in a post is of about three years. It is too short a period for many of them to fully understand a problem and formulate a response to it. Hence the ad hocism which has come to prevail here.

In the case of Sukhna Lake, the Administration has been toying with different solutions to the problem, including desilting operations through manual operations, mechanical desilting, wet dredging and finally, raising of the crest by about 2 feet on which the radial gates of the lake rest.

When the Administration announced the plan to raise the crest, objections were raised by experts besides a great hue and cry by the general public who pointed out that this was not a safe way because it could endanger the safety of the wall and other structure. But the Administration went ahead and spent about Rs 15 lakh to build the crest. The high court verdict means that all that money has been spent for nothing.

Sources in the Administration told TNS here today that although the court orders had not been received so far, the Administration had no option but to comply with them. The water level in the lake had been set at 1161 feet by the BBMB. There is now a provision for raising the water level by another 2 feet. But if the court wants the level not to rise beyond 1161, it will be obeyed. The water level in the Sukhna Lake touched 1160 feet on Monday, thanks to the good rainfall which Chandigarh has been receiving over the past few weeks.



Army plan on study centre gathers dust
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
About four years after the Army mooted a proposal to establish a centre for strategic studies at Panchkula, the file continues to gather dust in the offices of the Haryana Government as no progress has reportedly been made in this direction.

The then GOC-in-C, Western Command, Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi had forwarded the proposal to the Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, for setting up such a centre, which would function as a think tank for the region on strategic issues. The centre was envisioned to be set up on the lines of the India International Centre in New Delhi.

The rationale behind the move was that the region was full of well qualified military experts, academics, economists as well as retired bureaucrats, judicial, police and paramilitary officers, whose expertise and talents could be well utilised.

“Establishing such a centre requires government support,” General Oberoi remarked while speaking to The Tribune. “It would be highly prestigious for Panchkula to have such a centre,” he added.

Strategic studies is no longer confined to military studies. In the current scenario, it takes into its gambit other disciplines such as economic progress, technological development and a host of other subjects.

General Oberoi said that the region offered a good scope for setting up such a centre. “Delhi has reached a saturation point,” he remarked. “This region not only offers a window to Pakistan, but also contributes a lot of manpower to the forces,” he added.

In addition to the presence of major army, air force, paramilitary and scientific establishments in Panchkula and Chandigarh, another factor is close proximity to Delhi, which make to and fro travel for experts on business trips convenient.

Land for the centre is already stated to be available at Panchkula. In 1992, Western Command had asked the Haryana Development Authority for land to set up a Defence Service Officers’ Institute in the township. Subsequently, an officers’ institute was set up within the cantonment area and it was later proposed that the land, which measures about 4 acres, be used for establishing the centre.



Mayors’ conference stresses on right to information
Sanjay Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
The South Asia Mayors’ conference has committed its members to promote citizens’ right to information on matters relating to local governance.

The right to information has found mention in the “Vision for urban local bodies of future” adopted in the South Asia Mayors’ conference that concluded yesterday in Indore, the Chandigarh Mayor, Mr Subhash Chawla, told The Tribune here today after participating in the conference.

The conference has recognised the cities as “Engines of economic growth and need for good governance to promote an integrated approach for urban development, environment protection and reduction of poverty.”

The first meeting of South Asian Mayors with participation from Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Philippines decided to institutionalise the forum to be headquartered in New Delhi to disseminate best practices and experiences.

While Faridabad, Chandigarh and Shimla easily got into the executive committee of the Indian Mayors’ Council, Punjab, could not find its place amongst office-bearers as it could not form a regional council.

The Chandigarh Mayor urged the conference to have one office bearer exclusively from North-West India in the body of the Mayors which has approved a draft municipal law to be handed over to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on August 21 along with the recommendations of the conference.

Participating in the conference, the Union Health and Family Welfare Minister, Ms Sushma Swaraj, urged Mayors to concentrate on public health works by providing safe drinking water and sanitation to help the Ministry reduce 50 per cent of its burden. Ms Swaraj said if the Municipal Corporations take concrete measures in this regard, the Central Government would be willing to extend them financial support.

Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation Minister P. Radhkrishnan, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh and Union Civil Aviation Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy also participated in the conference.

The vision has felt that the cities must provide everyone, especially the poor, with equal access to basic services with policy support from the state and Central governments.

Urban environment protection, innovation in resource mobilisation, prudence in financial practices, tapping resources in the market, providing framework for participatory decision making and promotion of constructive dialogue and achieving synergy in public-private partnership to improve delivery of services have found their way into the vision.

Human resource development for encouraging capacity building as per the core of an individual city and a balance between political and executive wings have also formed part of the vision.



South Asia Conference for extending Mayor’s term
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
The extension of the Mayor’s term from one year to five years has been approved by the South Asia Mayors Conference that concluded yesterday at Indore.

The other items on the agenda included seeking tax exemptions for persons contributing to the proposed Mayors’ Relief Funds, empowering Mayors to write confidential reports of municipal officials and a commitment to provide 100 gallons of safe drinking water per day per unit. “These proposals were also accepted,” the Mayor, Mr Subhash Chawla, told reporters here today after returning from the conference.

The term of the Mayor will now be mentioned in a draft municipal law to be handed over to the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, on August 21 by the Council of Mayors. Mr Chawla has urged the conference to send matters related to Chandigarh to the Union Home Ministry which handles the city’s affairs.

The approving of the extension is contrary to the recommendations of the Legal Affairs Committee of the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh led by Dr K.S. Raju. The city was accorded a special status at the conference with the resolve of its Mayor figuring first in five categories of a contest of commitments by Mayors.

Mr Chawla promised ensuring supply of 100 gallons of drinking water per day per unit, creating 100 ‘sahaj safai kendras’ for garbage collection, planting 25,000 trees, introducing house-to-house garbage collection and build 10 new parks and green belts in a year. These resolves were adopted by other municipal corporations of the country also. The Indore Municipal Corporation announced an award of Rs 1 lakh for any municipal body that achieved these targets.

Mayors at the conference appreciated that the per capita expenditure by the Municipal Corporation and the Chandigarh Administration was probably the highest in the country. A demand for direct funding of municipal bodies by the Centre had also been raised. The state governments were giving municipal bodies only 0.5 per cent of their budgets against recommendations for 5 to 6 per cent.

The delegates wanted the 74th Constitutional Amendment to read that state governments “shall” (instead of “may”) ... ensure implementation of the Constitutional Amendment. They also called for ensuring proper water supply, managing of solid waste and protecting environment on priority.



Mayor orders probe into cow row
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
Mayor Subhash Chawla today asked Municipal Commissioner M. P. Singh to order an inquiry into report of cows captured from the city being thrown into a gorge in Poanta Sahib.

The Commissioner asked Joint Commissioner Kulwant Kalsanto look into the issue.

BJP councillors Kamla Sharma and Rajesh Gupta sought the resignation of the Mayor for the "heinous incident." They asked UT Administrator Justice O.P. Verma to get the matter inquired and suspend the officer concerned.

The Poanta Sahib police suspects the municipal staff of Chandigarh is behind the crime.



Haphazard planning, casualty roads
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
Lakhs of rupees spent on recarpeting and relaying roads in the city have virtually gone down the drain. Two important roads have caved in, one of which is the newly built road dividing Sectors 48 and 49. At several other places, potholes about two-foot deep and six-foot wide, are posing risk to two-wheeler riders and cyclists.

The blame is being laid on underground sewerage pipes, which have also caved in. These sewerage pipes were laid years ago and the roads later built afresh or widened without taking into account the old sewerage. The sewerage system could not take the added pressure of vehicles and caved in.

One of the places where the road has caved in is in front of the high-security colony of Punjab ministers in Sector 39. A four-foot-wide stretch of the road along the kerb has caved in here.

When the rain water gets accumulated in it, the pit becomes hard to spot.

The road in front of the Arts College in Sector 10 has developed a pothole into which a scooterist can easily fall.

The road near the Transport Area traffic lights, where it turns right from Panchkula into Chandigarh, has also developed several potholes. Next to Government Medical College an Hospital on the road dividing Sector 31 and 32, a five-foot-wide crater had formed after a pit was not properly filled after a sewer had been laid a few months ago. This has been repaired.

Near the CTU workshop in the Industrial Area, Phase I, a widened stretch of road has caved in. This road is the alternative route to the railway station and the repair work in progress here has narrowed the road.

The worst is the road dividing Sectors 48 and 49 which had just been laid out before the monsoon and inaugurated with much fanfare.

The underground sewerage pipe was not taken into account. This pipe had been there since long, but there was no road then.

With the Chief Engineer, Mr Puranjit Singh, on tour, the Engineering Department just said repairs were on. Whenever a new road is built, minor problems occur, but this year, it has been too much.



Estate Officer keeps property owners waiting
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, July 28
For over 70 owners of residential property in SAS Nagar a meeting scheduled for today with the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority’s Estate Officer, Mr T.K. Goel, came as a rude shock when after having called them for ‘personal hearing’, the officer himself was found absent from the office.

The property owners had been called through notices issued to them to explain their position regarding the occupation certificates issued to them by the Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) in December, 2000. The residents waited outside the Estate Office for over two hours.

They were told by the personal assistant of the officer that he was away and could not meet them. He then asked them to leave their electricity and telephone bills as proof of residence.

Earlier this month the authority had issued show-cause notices to owners of 266 residential houses asking them to explain both in writing and by personally meeting with the estate officer why these occupation certificates issued to them by PUDA should not be cancelled.

The notice stated that the authority had conducted an inquiry and found that occupation certificates issued by PUDA in December, 2000 were based on faulty reports filed by PUDA’s field staff and so the owner was now required to give reasons why their allotment should not be revoked.



School in midst of housing area sparks protest
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, July 28
Residents of Phase 10 here staged a demonstration against the construction of a school in the middle of a residential complex here this morning.

Alleging that the site had been wrongly allotted, the residents demanded that the construction process be stopped till a clarification is given by the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) regarding the allotment of the site.

The site, comprising over 1,200 square yards of vacant land adjoining a public park in Phase 10, had been allotted to the Anna Meep Educational Society for a primary school. The construction of the school began three days ago.

The site is in the middle of a row of houses occupied by over 50 families. Mr B.N. Kotnala, the president of the Residents Welfare Association, alleged that the construction process itself was dangerous for children as the deep pits dug around the site were filled with water and could lead to mishaps in dark.

Mr Kotnala said they had sent a representation to the PUDA authorities to cancel the allotment of this site to the society.

Sources in PUDA said the site had been allotted to the society over two years ago for a school and they had the right to construct a school there. A member of the society, Mr Rajesh Kumar, said they would take the necessary precautions. He, however, maintained that the construction of the school would not be stopped.



Joint police action suggested for curbing crime
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
Mr R.P. Malhotra, President of Samadhaan, a pressure group for social justice, today made a series of suggestions to check the rising crime graph in and around Chandigarh.

In a statement issued here, he said the spate of thefts, burglaries and robberies, leading to the killing of innocent persons in many cases was part of a carefully crafted strategy on the part of criminals. They keep shifting location to evade the police and then strike again after a span of time.

He attributed the spate in the crime to the migratory labour. Taking advantage of the jurisdiction limitations of police personnel of different areas, the criminals operating in the Chandigarh-Mohali-Panchkula axis hoodwinked the law-enforcing agencies by constantly shifting their bases.

Politically patronised unplanned and unauthorised growth on the periphery without ensuring adequate infrastructure was the main reason of the crime wave because it was not possible to identify all inhabitants of unauthorised labour colonies.

Verification reports of domestic servants working in Chandigarh sent by the local police to police headquarters in different states seldom evoked a response, especially from Bihar and Nepal. The rehabilitation policy framed by the UT Administration under political pressure was another factor that led to the rise in crime.

A study conducted by a team of observers of Samadhaan made the following recommendations:

  • Regularise entry of the migrant labour. Issue I-Cards after proper police verification from their place of origin.
  • Before giving approval to new housing projects and colonies, respective state governments must ensure provision of adequate infrastructure.
  • Removal of huts in open spaces and parks within the city limits.
  • Joint police system for the Chandigarh-Mohali-Panchkula region.
  • Regular police- public seminars in association with welfare bodies to create awareness among residents about the modus operandi of the criminals and utilisation of safety gadgets available in the market. An exhibition-cum-sale of safety gadgets by commercial houses dealing in these products.
  • Welfare associations and other NGOs should be involved in community policing programmes for-on-the-spot and immediate action in case of crime.
  • Planning of walled sectors/ sector blocks along with entry gates to be manned by security guards in the night may be considered by amending existing bylaws to allow welfare bodies to install entry gates.



Ensure patrolling, villagers told
Our Correspondent

Panchkula, July 28
Taking a serious view of the failing ‘watch and ward’ drive in villages of Panchkula district, the Deputy Commissioner has enforced the Punjab Village and Small Towns Patrols Act for next two months.

The Deputy Commissioner, Ms Satwanti Ahalawat, said there was a threat to life and property of villagers and the Act had been enforced for their safety.

She also said inhabitants of various villages of Panchkula district had not voluntarily made sufficient arrangements for carrying out watch and ward programme in their jurisdictions.

The DC has ordered that all able-bodied adult males in these villages to join night patrols to avoid any untoward incident.

The order further makes the panchayats responsible for ensuring that patrols performed as envisaged under Section 4 of the Act. The Subdivisional Officers (C), at Panchkula and Kalka, besides the Block Development and Panchayat Officers at Pinjore, Raipur Rani, Barwala and Morni will ensure that the orders are carried out.



Lessons to be learnt from Akhnoor incident

IS this the way you protect your Army Commander? What has gone wrong with the Army? These two questions need to be answered dispassionately by the senior as well as junior officers. The very fact that such incidents can happen and the third terrorist, hiding in the camp, remained undetected puts a question mark on the security aspect. Candidly speaking, the terrorist attack on the Army camp near Akhnoor when a sizeable number of senior officers, including the Northern Army Commander and GOC 16 Corps were on a visit to the camp, on July 22, was a monumental failure of security on part of the local commander.

Have we forgotten the basic infantry tactics? If not, then why was the camp area, both from inside and outside, not combed thoroughly, especially, when only a few hours before, seven jawans were killed and six were wounded in the same camp. Why was the camp not picketed and why were there no mobile patrols in the area? It is said that a Brigadier was killed.

If an Army Commander decides to visit a post or a camp, the respective Corps, Divisional, Brigade and local commanders have to be present there. Let us not take shelter under the idea as to why they were there. In such situations and in war, it is always the senior commander who goes to the spot, rather than the local commander being called back to his headquarters.

The Army top brass should sit up and think hard on this monumental security lapse.

Veterans’ polyclinic

Established by Dr (Brig) M.L. Kataria (retd) and his team of doctors and donors at SAS Nagar, the Defence Veterans Polyclinic (DVP), was inaugurated by the then Governor of Punjab, Lieut-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), on December 11, 2002.

Having started as a one-day clinic just six months ago, it is now attending to the patients for six days a week. On an average, about 60-70 patients from the remote rural areas in Ropar district and Chandigarh come to this polyclinic everyday for treatment. The patients having dental problems are also attended to by an experienced dental surgeon. The patients needing further investigation and treatment are referred to the Command Hospital. There is a panel of 10 specialists for advisory/referral services. Besides, eight renowned consultants also visit the polyclinic in rotation.

A one-day cardio-pulmonary camp was held at the polyclinic on July 19. More than 200 patients were examined and given treatment by Brig M.L. Kataria and Col N.K. Bhatia at the camp. The patients were provided medicines free of cost by Cipla Pharmaceuticals.

Impressed by the medicare being rendered to the ex-servicemen, the Headquarters Western Command has sanctioned a building for the DVP at SAS Nagar, which is likely to come up on priority basis.

Health scheme

Almost all queries raised by the ex-servicemen on the Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS), have been answered through this column from time to time on clarifications given by the Army Headquarters.

However, the two crucial points, that remain undecided by the government are causing concern to the pensioner. One is that the list of empanelled hospitals has not yet been issued. The ECHS cannot take off in the real sense until this is done. The second and more important one is that no decision has been taken so far on the mode of cash reimbursement to a pensioners who, in an emergency, gets admitted to the nearest hospital, which is a non-empanelled one.

This is bound to happen in case of some aged pensioners. In case of an emergency, there will be no time to first go to the designated polyclinic and then get referred to an empanelled hospital. Rather than getting involved in the long procedure of cash reimbursement, the bills of the non-empanelled hospitals should also be cleared directly by the ECHS organisation in the same way as in case of the empanelled hospitals.

In the territorial jurisdiction of Headquarters Western Command, all efforts are being made to establish polyclinics in non-military stations first, on priority basis, as the Army Commander, Lieut-Gen S.S. Mehta, feels that since military stations already have medical facilities, they can wait for some more time.



Lower salary ceiling, say ex-servicemen
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
The Ex-Servicemen's Grievances Cell has urged the Army Headquarters to lower the salary ceiling for personnel below officer rank and ex-servicemen other than officers desiring to buy a car through CSD canteens.

In a letter to the Army's Quarter Master-General, president of the cell, Lieut-Col S.S. Sohi (retd) has sought that the salary ceiling be lowered from Rs 10,500 a month to Rs 7,000 a month. The present ceiling has helped only a handful of PBORs.

The letter states that there has been a tremendous change in the socio-economic status of PBORs. Their social and family obligations forces them to purchase a car. Further, due to old age problems, some ex-servicemen require car.

They have to purchase cars at higher prices from the open market, which is discriminating, the letter added.



Harassed husbands for change in laws
Kiran Deep

Chandigarh, July 28
In contrast to the image of men as oppressors of women, they were seen helpless victims, pleading for being rescued from their wives and amendment in the dowry laws at a meeting organised by the Nari Jagriti Manch (NJM) here.

Interestingly, they were seeking the help of a women’s organisation against the women in their lives.

The NJM has been running “Crime against men counselling centre” to rescue men facing problems due to the present marriage laws.

The NJM introduced men who claimed they were being harassed by their wives. Narrating his tale of woe, 63-year-old P.R. Sehgal, who faces dowry harassment case filed against his wife after 30 years of marriage, said after spending so many years together, a small dispute had led to separation from his wife.

Giving details, he said: “I retired from government service on December 31, 1998, as Assistant Engineer in the Punjab Irrigation Department from Patiala. I was married on November 21, 1969. I have two sons. The dispute began when my elder son got married and they decided to deprive me of all moveable and immovable assets.

When I resisted, my wife and son beat me up and threw me out of the house. I started living separately but my wife lodged a complaint of theft against me. Thereafter, I filed a divorce case. Then she filed a dowry harassment case against me”.

Another man in his fifties said the present laws in favour of the women should be amended. He said his wife had lodged a “false” complaint against him a number of times. Each time he had to appear before the police and suffer harassment.



Foundation to help students
Our Correspondent

Panchkula, July 28
The Shivalik Foundation, Panchkula, a charitable society, has decided to spend Rs 2.50 lakh on various activities, including financial help to the poor and needy students during the current year.

In a press note, the society said scholarships would be granted to over 200 poor students. Besides this, financial help, ranging from Rs 75 to Rs 125 per month, would also be given to about 35 brilliant students. The organisation has adopted 19 government schools in Panchkula district.

Three hundred sweaters and 100 pairs of shoes would also be distributed among poor students of government primary schools. Cash awards would be given to the district toppers of various examinations conducted by the Haryana School Education Board and the CBSE.

Ms Subhash Bansal, general secretary of the foundation, said 355 poor students of government primary schools located in remote areas had been given books worth Rs 40,000.



CPI workers protest ‘anti-people’ policies
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
In protest against the visit of a World Bank team, which held talks with the top brass of the Punjab Government here today and “anti-people” policies of the state government, a large number of CPI activists from all over Punjab, held a dharna and a rally at Matka Chowk here today.

CPI leader Joginder Dayal said the Amarinder Government had surrendered completely to the World Bank, the IMF and the WTO.

The World Bank-dictated reforms would not be able to pull Punjab out of its financial problems. “A solution to the state’s financial problems is with its people and not the World Bank teams”, the CPI leader asserted.

Dr Dayal said a section of the state bureaucracy, which had become obsessed with institutions like the World Bank and the WTO, had been misleading Capt Amarinder Singh and putting the state in further financial trouble. “It was the same World Bank which had ditched Punjab only a few years ago by refusing to give a penny for developmental projects,” Dr Dayal said.

Most reforms dictated by international institutions were in reality meant to capture the economies of developing countries. Policies advocated by these institutions were “anti-people and pro-elite”, subsidies given to farmers and the poor sections were being curtailed. Privatisation of public sector undertakings was being promoted. Under the dictates of the World Bank, the charges for power, water, sewerage and other utilities had been enhanced.

Questioning the sale of Punjab Tractors Limited (PTL), which earned a profit of Rs 137 crore last financial year, Dr Dayal said assets worth Rs 500 crore had been sold for half a price.



Honour for city lensman
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
Subhash Sapru, a city-based lensman, has been awarded the associateship by the India International Photographic Council (IIPC) for his outstanding work in the field of photojournalism, according to a notification published by the IIPC in its official journal of July, 2003.

The coveted international honour would be formally conferred upon him at a function to be organised by the IIPC in New Delhi on the occasion of World Photography Day, which falls on August 19. Subhash Sapru has earlier won awards for his pictures in national as well as in international photo exhibitions.

His pictures have also been accepted in international exhibitions held in the USA and Bangladesh. Only recently the Photographic Society of America published his frames capturing the devastation caused by the Gujarat earthquake. A member of the Photographic Society of America since 1998 and a life member of the IIPC and the Federation of Indian Photography, Sapru is also the general secretary of a local group of photoartists, called Friends of Photography.



Jogpal for state funding of elections
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
The Haryana State Election Commissioner (SEC), Mr T.D. Jogpal, here yesterday stressed upon the need to prescribe minimum qualification for candidates to Parliament and assemblies.

Mr Jogpal said a ban on the candidature of the people with criminal background, on donations by industrialists, funding of elections by the state and a consensus on reservation of women were required to reform the electoral system.

He was speaking at a seminar on “Campaign for cleansing elections” organised by the Rashtriya Mantri Parishad headed by Muni Shri Vinay Kumar “Alok.”

The former Punjab Minister S.S. Randhawa and BJP's National legal cell convener Satyapal Jain also attended the seminar.



Villager commits suicide
Our Correspondent

Lalru, July 28
A 50-year-old resident of Ber Majra village, Bhoora Ram, committed suicide by touching the high-tension power cable after climbing up an electricity transformer in paddy fields near here this afternoon.

According to Mr Gian Singh, former sarpanch of the village, Bhoora Ram walked up to the transformer in the paddy fields around 1.30 pm and committed suicide.

The dead body was noticed by labourers working in the fields. Subsequently, villagers and the police were informed.

Villagers said Bhoora Ram’s wife was away to her parents’ house. The exact reason behind the suicide could not be known.

The body has been sent to the Civil Hospital, Rajpura, for a post-mortem examination.



Rain brings down day temperature
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
An hour-long downpour in the city and its surrounding areas brought down day temperature much to the relief of city residents who had been facing hot and humid conditions for the past few days.

The heavy showers forced residents to remain indoors. The city roads were inundated and the traffic was affected. A number of vehicles could be seen stranded near roundabouts.

The rain, which started around 6.15 pm and continued till 7.30 pm, brought down temperature in Chandigarh and adjoining areas of Ambala and Patiala. The maximum and minimum temperature was 33.4 °C and 27.6 °C, respectively. After the rain city residents enjoyed a cool breeze and thronged city markets and open spaces.

It took more than two hours for the rainwater to drain.



Blocking roads with impunity
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, July 28
Flouting rules laid down by the Department of Local Government, Punjab, owners of residential and commercial properties in the township are dumping construction material on roads and parks in the vicinity while constructing shops and houses.

The problem is so widespread in some sectors that commuters have to use alternative routes with the main intra-sectoral roads blocked with construction material.

According to the rules issued by the Local Government Department, anyone found dumping “malba” and other construction material is to be fined up to Rs 1000 by the municipal authority and in case of repeated violations, a fine of Rs 500 is to be collected by the authorities every day from the violator.

However, the problem remains largely unchecked in the township due to the municipal staff ’s lackadiasical approach to the problem. An official explained that earlier the fine levied for such violations was nominal and it was not economically viable to employ persons specially for the purpose.

Now with the fine amount increased to a Rs 1000 per violation, attention would be given to solving this problem.



Virbhadra undergoes medical tests
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
Setting aside speculations about the falling health of the Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister, Mr Virbhadra Singh, doctors at the Batra Hospital and Medical Research Centre at Panchkula today said he was in excellent condition.

Mr Virbhadra Singh, who had undergone a bypass surgery in Delhi in 1995, today underwent a complete evaluation of his cardiac status. “The evaluation revealed that his cardiac status was absolutely fine and all the four grafts given to him at the time of earlier surgery were normal,” informed Prof Upendra Kaul.

Professor Kaul added that Mr Virbhadra Singh did not require angioplasty or surgical intervention. During the past few days, his political rivals within the Congress have been asking the Congress high command for a change in the leadership on the plea that the Chief Minister, was not keeping good health.

Following such reports, Mr Virbhadra Singh had even rushed to New Delhi to meet the All India Congress Committee AICC chief, Ms Sonia Gandhi, and covey to her that he in perfect health and it was a mere propaganda by his political opponents to oust him.



Accident victim succumbs to injuries
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, July 28
Tarsem Lal, a resident of Mani Majra, who was seriously injured in an accident involving a truck and a horse-cart on the Chandigarh-Patiala highway near here yesterday, succumbed to his injuries at Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, in Chandigarh, today.

Tarsem Lal was injured when the truck (PBW-4187) belonging to a brick kiln in Bhabhat village, rammed into his horse-cart.

Meanwhile, the police has registered a case under Sections 279 and 304-A of the IPC against the driver of the truck on the complaint of Mr Balbir Singh, a resident of Mani Majra.



Former Mayor Harjinder Kaur bereaved
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
Former Mayor Ms Harjinder Kaur’s father-in-law, Prof Gurcharan Singh, died here after a prolonged illness. He was 77.

Principal Secretary and Family Welfare D.S. Jaspal, former BJP MP Satyapal Jain, PPSC member Ajaib Singh, SGPC member Hardeep Singh and Mayor Subhash Chawla, among others, attended the cremation.



Supplementary phone directory

Chandigarh, July 28
The Chandigarh telecom district will distribute supplementary telephone directories at the following centres from 11 am to 4 pm on all working days: telephone exchange building, Sector 17, Chandigarh; customer service centre, telephone exchange, Sector 34, Chandigarh; Commercial Officer, SCO 69-69, Sector 8, Chandigarh; telephone exchange, Sector 5, Panchkula; telephone exchange, Phase 4, SAS Nagar; and telephone exchange, Kharar.

Mr K.S. Saini, DE (Customer Care), said in case of any difficulty subscribers could call at telephone number 544066. TNS



ISKCON to organise ‘Teej mela’

Chandigarh, July 28
The local chapter of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) will organise a three-day “Teej mela” starting from August 1 at Hare Krishna Dham, Sector 36 B, said Bhakti Vinod Dasa Prabhu, the president of the local unit.

He appealed to the people to join “Gobind Jhulan yatra” on the temple premises.

ISKCON will also organise a 14-day “nagar sankirtan” programme as part of the celebration of Sri Krishna Janmashtami from August 1. TNS



Car, scooter stolen
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
Madan Tanwar of Sector 22 has reported that someone stole his Maruti Zen car (CH-03-J-7898) last night from outside his house. A case under Section 379 of the IPC has been registered at the police station of Sector 17. Meanwhile, Harish Kumar of Sector 23 has reported that someone stole his scooter (CH-01-W-4903) yesterday that he had parked in front of his house. A case under Section 379 of the IPC has been registered at the police station of Sector 17.

Smack seized
Shiva, of Sector 25 was caught carrying 20 g smack and charged under the NDPS Act.

Gambling charge
The police arrested Rajesh Kumar of Kumhar Colony, Sector 25, late yesterday on the charge of gambling at a public place and seized Rs 2,990 from him. A case under Section 13-A, 3 and 67 of the Gambling Act has been registered against him at the police station of Sector 11.

Vehicles recovered
The police has arrested three persons in two separate cases in the past 48 hours and recovered three stolen scooters and seized 20g smack from them.

Personnel of the Sector 24 police post arrested two persons — Sanjiv and Santosh of Sector 24 — and recovered these scooters from them. They were later remanded in police custody.


Pistol seized
The police has seized a pistol and two live cartridges from the possession of Ravi Kumar, a resident of Kaithal. The police nabbed him on suspicion when he was wandering near Vishawakarma Chowk here under the NDPS Act. In another incident the police seized 15 kg of poppy husk from Karnail Singh near Sabji Mandi. In yet another incident, the police recovered 20 kg of poppy husk near supply chowk. The accused however managed to flee.


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