Monday, August 18, 2003, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Teenager drowns in sarovar
Bipin Bhardwaj

  • This is the third time when the sarovar of Gurdwara Nabha Sahib turned into a watery grave .
  • A 25-year- old man had drowned in the pond about 20 years ago when there was a well in place of the sarovar.
  • Three years ago, a school students from SAS Nagar had drowned in the sarovar.

Zirakpur, August 17
Pilgrimage for a couple turned into a tragedy when their teenager son drowned into the sarovar of Gurdwara Nabha Sahib in Nabha village located on the Chandigarh-Patiala highway, about 2 km from here.

The young devotee from Brahampura village near Chhat Bir Zoo drowned in the sarovar while taking holy dip this morning. The boy’s head got stuck in the marshy bottom of the sarovar.

A student of Class VI of Government High School, Dera Bassi, Manmohan Singh along with his father, Mr Shamsher Singh, and mother, Roshan Kaur, went to the gurdwara to do seva at about 9 am.

An eyewitness while talking to The Tribune said at least 100 pilgrims, including youngsters and elders, were taking a holy dip in the sarovar at the time of the incident. ‘‘A strong current washed away Manmohan Singh to the deeper side of the sarovar and he disappeared in the water,' the eyewitness revealed.

Two fire tenders, one from Dera Bassi and another from SAS Nagar, were called to fish out the body. Two fire engines were pressed into service for pumping out the water from the pond.

With tears rolling down his cheeks, shattered father of the boy said when the news of the drowning spread, I could hardly imagine that it would be my own son. Mr Shamsher Singh, works as a carpenter in a factory at Jawaharpur village near Dera Bassi.

Ms Roshan Kaur, mother of the boy, collapsed after hearing the news of her son. She was admitted to a private clinic in Zirakpur.

Devotees assembled at the spot complained that the gurdwara prabandhak committee had failed to maintain the sarovar .

Mr Hira Singh, a resident of Brahampura village, alleged that the stairs of the sarovar had not been cleaned of moss and lichen for the past three years. He further alleged that the management had not changed the water of the pond for the last 12 years. The sarovar has only a single outlet for the water discharge, he complained.

Relatives of the victim’s family complained that the gurdwara management did not allowed the firemen to pull down the boundary wall constructed around the sarovar to make way for the fire engines to enable the pumping out of the water.

Mr Avtar Singh and Mr K.C .Sood, in charges of Dera Bassi and SAS Nagar fire brigades, respectively, said that there was no provision to take the fire engines up to the water body.

When contacted ,Mr Harbansh Singh, president of the Nabha Sahib Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, admitted that the sarovar was cleaned three years ago. He denied all other allegations. The firemen were given a free hand to remove the boundary wall of the sarovar , he added.


1 killed, 8 injured in bus-truck collision
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, August 17
One person was killed and at least eight others were injured, three of them seriously, in an accident on the Landran-Banur road this morning.

The accident took place when a speeding bus hit a trailer-truck head-on, killing the driver of the truck Darbara Singh on the spot and gravely injuring the bus driver Ajay Sharma who is fighting for his life at the PGI. Six bus passengers were injured, two of whom are still unidentified, and in a serious condition at the PGI.

The accident took place at 5.30 am when the bus and the truck were near Sanetta village. The bus (DL 1PA 4986) was carrying passengers from New Delhi to Jammu and was taking a shortcut via Banur. The trailer-truck (HR 37A 0995) was carrying five tractors and was on its way from Mohali to Jaunpur.

Eyewitnesses told the police that the bus driver was coming in speed on the road, which is normally not taken by long route buses. The bus hit the truck head-on, smashing the truck face and killing the driver. “The body of the truck driver had to be taken out after cutting through the mangled frame,” said Mr Harcharan Singh Bhullar SP here.

The injured were rushed to the Civil Hospital (Phase VI) here. The bus driver along with other two persons were sent to the PGI. Five were admitted to the hospital. The injured at the Civil Hospital here include Ramgiri, Lakhvinder Singh, Gurdev Singh, Inderjit Kaur and Manoj Kumar.

The police has registered a case of rash and negligent driving against the bus driver, Ajay Sharma. The family of the killed driver residing in Gurdaspur has been informed by the police.

In another accident, a scooterist Deepinder Singh was killed in a collision with a tractor-trailer near Sabzipur village here just after midnight. The tractor-trailer (PB 12B 5151), was going on the Landran -Banur road, when the accident took place. Eyewitnesses told the police that the tractor-trailer and the scooter were coming from the opposite directions and the tractor ran over the scooterist. The driver fled the spot after the accident.


2 injured: Two unidentified women were wounded when a Maruti Zen car, being driven by a ‘drunken’ SAS Nagar-based architect, rammed into them on the dividing road of Sectors 46 and 47 here this evening.

After the accident, the car driver, Karan, tried to escape from the spot, but was nabbed by the Police Control Room vehicle near the Government College, Sector 46. A case has been registered.

An eyewitness said that the two women were bleeding profusely, when they were taken to the Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, where their condition was said to be stable.


PU plans weightage for attendance
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 17
Aimed at improving the classroom attendance in the affiliated colleges of Panjab University, the university proposes to fix five per cent marks in the aggregate for the regularity in classes.

The university proposes to impose the condition from the current academic session. The matter will come up for detailed discussion before a committee headed by Prof Ramesh Kapoor, the Dean of the College Development Council. Other members include Principal Tarsem Bahia, Principal S.C.Marriya, Principal A.C.Vaid, Prof Charanjit Chawla, the Controller of Examination and the joint controller of examination.

The issue had first figured in the senate meeting last year when Principal R.S. Pawan had recommended that instead of giving any marks for classroom attendance, the university should mention the total number of lectures delivered and the total attended by each candidate on their marks cards.

As a part of the current development, the issue needs a closer look for understanding its repercussions in a broader perspective, a senior faculty member pointed out. “The colleges were witnessing abysmally low attendance from the past few years. The dwindling classroom attendance had students taking their courses very lightly throughout the session and preparing only for the annual examination.

The university last year introduced 10 per cent credit for the marks scored in the internal examination. Of the total, 4 per cent marks are worked out on basis of marks in the September test and 6 per cent on marks obtained in the December test”.

Two-house examination whose results have a bearing on the final degree results will definitely have a positive impact in increasing the classroom attendance, it is felt. Interestingly, the concept of house examination had vanished in majority of universities in the neighbouring states.

Another related reason for the fall in classroom attendance is the flood of entrance examinations for professional courses. Students of the science stream in the Plus two in particularly can be seen scurrying between residences of different teachers in a day for their tuitions.

Giving details of the likely plan, a principal said the university will give a weightage of 1 per cent to students attending classes between 75 per cent and 80 per cent; 2 per cent to those attending between 80 and 85 per cent; and 5 per cent to those attending between 95 and cent per cent. It is, however, felt that in the graduation classes, expecting cent per cent attendance was a little too harsh on students.

In order to give boost to classroom teaching, the university has already increased the minimum required classroom attendance from 66 per cent to 75 per cent.


Mufti pins hopes on Track-II diplomacy
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, August 17
The Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, today said India had before her an ‘‘opportunity of the century’’ to solve the Kashmir issue amicably and to the satisfaction of both the countries involved.

Pinning hopes on Track II diplomacy between India and Pakistan leading to country-to-country talks, the Mufti said it would, however, take sometime before the heads of the two nations can sit across a table to find a solution to the problem.

In an exclusive interview to The Tribune during his brief halt at SAS Nagar this afternoon, Mufti Sayeed said for the first time since Independence, the people of Kashmir were aspiring for peace. ‘‘People want good governance and normalcy to return to Kashmir so that social and economic development can take place,’’ he said.

Stressing that dialogue was the only road to peace, Mufti Sayeed pointed that ‘‘Hurriyat is positively inclined to dialogue and with each passing day the situation between us and them is improving.’’

‘‘I want that people-to-people contact between India and Pakistan should be encouraged to a larger extent than what is currently being done. Visa rules should be relaxed and like Wagah, Suchetgarh should become a point of crossing over for citizens through increased road and rail contact. Kashmir should become the bridge between the two countries instead of the bone of contention,’’ he said.

Stating that solution to the Kashmir issue was not easy, he said Kashmir was a complicated problem which needed to be solved at various levels involving various sections of people. ‘‘Like the problem, the solution too needs to evolve out of the various streams involved. But the process is slow and cumbersome.’’

‘‘The first step is Track II and once people have gotten over Kargil and the Agra Summit, reconciliation between the nations will start. But nothing is possible overnight. It will be a long time before heads of Pakistan and India can sit across a table and solve the problem.’’

The Mufti visited the bereaved family of Group Captain J.S. Kahlon, Chief Commissioner, Aviation J&K, who had died in an air crash on August 5. Accompanied by Deputy Chief Minister of J&K, Mr Mangat Ram, he paid condolences to the wife and son of Group Captain Kahlon.


Upholder of faith in the system
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, August 17
In an age when many government officers accept money readily, the Panchkula Municipal Council president, Mrs Seema Chaudhary, has dared to be different.

By getting a sanitation contractor in Panchkula booked for offering her a bribe, Mrs Chaudhary has sent signals to her officers in the council to desist from colluding with contractors. “After all, we are guardians of the people's money. Hundreds of residents of the township pay their taxes honestly. How can we misuse this money and belie their faith in the system,” she asks.

She says though corruption is rampant in the society, it takes just one person to do away with the malice. “If the top brass in any office decides that there will be no corruption, the system can be improved. The trouble starts only when the people at the helm of affairs give indirect encouragement by preferring to remain silent to corrupt practices,” she says .

Mrs Chaudhary, who is a new entrant in the political arena (only eight months ago she had contested the Panchkula MC elections as an Indian National Lok Dal candidate from a general ward), says she wants to change the image of politicians. “Politicians are regarded as corrupt, with usurping the money as their prime objective. I choose to serve the people who elected me with a belief that I will make a difference, when I serve them,” she says.

She says that many times contractors have walked up to her and dropped subtle hints of a bribe. “ But yesterday, when this contractor walked into my house and left after offering me Rs. 25,000, for renewing the tender for sanitation works, I felt he was belittling me, not just as an office-bearer, but also as a woman. Thus I called the police and informed the Deputy Commissioner, ” she says.

Mrs Chaudhary, who till a few months ago, was content being a housewife, was asked by residents of Sector 2 to jump in the fray. Being from a political family ( she is the wife of INLD state secretary Amardeep Chaudhary and daughter of former minister Jagpal Singh Chaudhary) , she says that she is aware of pressures of being a politician." But I was encouraged by my mother-in-law, Mrs Sukhjeet Chaudhary, husband and brothers-in-law Pradeep Chaudhary and Jagdeep Chaudhary to join politics. I was involved in social service, so the residents asked me to contest the elections. I knew this decision would change my life, but due to my family's encouragement I finally decided to contest the elections. "

Ever since she assumed office, the buzz is that the contractors, for rounding of stray animals, maintenance of streetlights, and sanitation works, have been forced into doing their job properly. She takes rounds of various sectors daily and verifies from the residents since when streetlights are not functioning or garbage not lifted and the contractors are fined for negligence.

Talking of her future plans for the beautification of Panchkula, Mrs Chaudhary says that with roads and parks being transferred to the MC from the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) , repair of all internal roads in sectors and beautification of parks by creating walking paths is her top priority.


Thieves target locked houses
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, August 17
During the past 24 hours ,the police has registered at least three cases of thefts from different parts of the city.

Jasbir Singh, a resident of house number 88, Avenue Road ,Patiala, reported that gold jewellery and cash were stolen from house number 16, Sector 5, Chandigarh, on the night of August 15.

Kamru Deen, resident of house number 1558, Mori Gate Manimajra, reported that someone stole Rs 22,000 cash from his residence on the night of August 3 .

In both cases, locks of house were broken by thieves, an official press note said.


‘Dastarbandi’ contest held
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, August 17
Sikh Missionary College organised a “dastarbandi” competition at Gurdwara Sahib, Sector 37, here today. The event was aimed at popularising turban tying.

Separate competitions were organised for boys and girls. Each category was divided into four groups on the basis of age group. The first category was comprised of children below Class IV, the second of children from Classes V to VIII while students up to Class XII formed the third group.

Prizes and certificates to winners in the three groups were given away by Mr Hardeep Singh, an SGPC member. The competition was organised in continuation of the Gurmat and kirtan classes that concluded in the first week of July.


Chandigarh Calling

IF there is one change in the otherwise staid social scene in the city and its satellite townships, it is the disappearance of most aerated cold drinks. Ever since the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has made its findings public about the traces of insecticides being found in the colas, the “social status” associated with serving “cold drinks only” has suddenly waned out.

Any party one goes to these days, it is back to neembo paani, lassi or the milk shakes. In fact, at many a party held recently, guests have shown their resentment in case the hosts serve these cold drinks. “ ...Arre bhai sahib. Marwana hai kya jo cold drink pila rahe ho? (Do you want to see us dead? You are serving us cold drinks) is the refrain heard at any party, where cold drinks are served. It seems that the impact of the CSE findings on the peoples psyche will take a long time to go.

Visit to China

The other day Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh announced at the CII here that he would take a delegation of government officials and industry representatives to China to participate in a trade fair. Consequently, senior government officials are speculating about the names who could get a chance to accompany the CM.

Insiders admit that Directors, Department of Industry and Agriculture, Secretary, IT, and MDs of Markfed and Punjab Agro should genuinely accompany the CM as they were handling the departments and agencies concerned which could play a decisive role to improve Punjab’s trade with China.

However, it remained to be seen, they said, who would accompany the CM as there were a large number of officials “close” to the CM. They could jeopardise their chances, they said.

Savings on methane

The reporting of the presence of methane gas near Dadu Majra village dumping ground in the local print media and national TV channels has forced the Chandigarh administration to ban the entry of residents to that area to avoid any untoward incident. But some residents and shopkeepers who were using that gas as a cooking fuel, are cursing the media and the administration for stopping them from using this free source of fuel.

In fact, a religious organisation had even started using that gas to prepare community langar from time to time. It is also complaining that the administration has neither found a permanent solution to save the residents from foul smell nor it is allowing them to use the gas for domestic purposes.

Reva in city

Dr D.P. Maini, a retired professor of the Hindi Department of Panjab University, has got a wonderful gift from his brother — a battery-run “Reva” car that has been named after his sister-in-law, Reva. His brother, Mr Sudharshan Maini, is a mechanical engineering graduate from Banaras Hindu University, who has manufactured this car at Bangalore. He says proudly, ‘‘Priced at Rs 2.40 lakh, this is an eco-friendly car which could run up to 85 km after charging. It offers a wonderful experience to the passengers for 30 paise per km and could accommodate two adults and two children.’’

A bit of Rajasthan

Photo Parvesh ChauhanThe picture is not a scene from Rajasthan but Chandigarh — the front of a hotel in Sector 35, which has been spruced up as part of its Rajasthan food festival held last week.

Cutouts of the Jaipur Fort adorn the entrance with the electric light strings throwing their glitter all over at night. And the camel dressed in colourful desert refinery has been hired to give a feel of the ship of the Thar to the guests of the eatery, specially the kids.

The bumpy ride on the hump of the animal in the parking lot full of cars and scooters is worth the bill incurred on Rajasthani exotic mirch and onion pakoras, dal baati churma and sweet ghevar.

Pathetic sight

Whatever the Punjab Governor might mean by zero tolerance towards encroachers and slum dwellers its always a pitiable sight when these persons are rendered homeless following demolition drive.

In a recent drive at the Jhotte Kutt colony here young women with semi-clad children, some barely days old, were shunted out of their houses and standing out in the rain. Their meagre belongings collected over years lay sprawled all over the place. A sight which would have surely made even the Governor feel bad.

In the news

Praises showered by the PGI Director, Prof S.K.Sharma, on the PGI engineering department left the gathering at the Independence Day function wondering if inviting the prime investigating agency, the CBI, to its office for raids was an achievement.

As is customary on Independence Day function, Prof Sharma praised the security staff, technical staff and safai karamcharis for the services they were providing round the clock to patients coming to the PGI from the entire Northern region. However, it was the mention of the engineering department, which led to a lot of murmurs, as it was not once but on at least three occasions that the CBI raided the PGI in connection with alleged irregularities in construction work.

Construction worth several crores is being undertaken at the PGI as the advanced cardiac centre, advanced eye care centre, trauma centre and bonemarrow transplant centre are being set up. The CBI is still investigating some of the cases and the former Health Minister and film star turned politician, Mr Shatrughan Sinha, had been compelled to remark that the engineering department of PGI was making news for all the wrong reasons.

— Sentinel



LIC officers seek salaries on par with foreign firms
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 17
The Federation of LIC Class-I Officers Association has urged the government to revise the salary of officers in the company to bring it on a par with international insurance companies.

According to the federation, the foreign insurance companies are paying 4 to 6 per cent of their total income to their officers and executives as against 1.45 per cent being given by the LIC.

At a regional level meeting held here yesterday, leaders of employees of 15 divisions in Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan sought a share in the profit of the corporation earned during the past four years.

The federation has claimed that the income of the LIC has gone up from Rs 30,732 crore to Rs 72,729 crore during these years, but the wages of the employees have not been revised.

After the meeting, Mr O.P. Vashisht, president of the federation, said, “As per the earlier wage settlement between the management and employees' unions, the LIC management should have entered into deliberations by August 1, 2002, but we have not been called so far.”

Mr S.Y. Aware, general secretary of the federation, said Class-I officers, whose income constituted just 1.45 per cent of the total income of the corporation, had every right to ask for a wage revision.

Mr R.C. Chaudhary, divisional secretary of the association, said due to efforts of its employees, the expense ratio of the corporation had been brought down from 17.72 per cent to just 4.2 per cent. Among others, Mr Rajesh Khanna , Mr V.K. Nanda and Mr A.N. Sinha also spoke on the occasion.


Patient in need of help
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 17
Sohail, who is just 14 years of age, has somehow managed to overcome the grief of the loss of his parents in an accident 10 years ago, but with his elder brother suffering from a serious liver ailment, he is fearing the worst.

His brother Javed (22) has come all the way from Moradabad for treatment at the PGI here. “Ever since my parents died in a bus accident in Moradabad I have brought up Sohail like a son and I dread to think what will happen to him after me,” says Javed.

With the two managing with Javed’s meagre earnings, who used to work as a labourer before taking ill, there is no way they can bear the cost of the surgery. “The surgery will cost Rs 35,000 and in case there is delay Javed will develop cirrhosis, which can be prove fatal,” says Dr Ashish Bhagat of the Department of Hepatology at the PGI.

Dr Bhagat said Javed was suffering from a problem where the veins get blocked, leading to a liver disorder. He said the surgery was called shunt-liver surgery. Though the PGI and the Red Cross have agreed to donate Rs 10,000, but without help from social organisations or individuals the surgery will not be possible.

“I am not worried for myself, but who will take care of Sohail after me is what is worrying me more than my liver ailment,”says Javed.

With none in the family, including his paternal uncle, willing to help, it is only through donation that Javed’s life can be saved.

All those willing to help can get in touch with the PGI Public Relations Officer at 747585- 6003 or with Dr Ashish Bhagat in the Department of Hepatology.


An utsav of earthy colours
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 17
Delhi-based textile visualiser Shashiv Chandran has been promoting the traditional Indian handloom. For years he has been the brain behind Utsav, a movement linking traditional handloom weavers with an aesthetic urban clientele.

An exhibition, which is now running at a Sector 22 hotel in Chandigarh, celebrates the historic heritage of Indian textiles. Titled Earth Shastra, the exhibition conceived by Shashiv Chandran in close association with masters weavers from all over India, offers a unique collection of handlooms inspired by the colours of the earth.

The shades breathed into fabrics have been integrated by Shashiv Chandran. On entering the exhibition hall one feels close to rural India with block prints in Barru, Dabu, Kalamkari and natural dyes beckoning you with their charm and elegance.

Talking to the Tribune about the concept that has clicked amazingly well with the urban populace of Delhi and other metros, Chandran said,“Earth Shastra returns to the native vernacular design traditions. The thoughtless transfer of design from one region to another is to be eschewed if excellence is to be retained in the long-term perspective. Believing the saree to be the best symbol of India’s living textile history, I feel that public awareness needs to be stoked so that a good saree weave can be truly appreciated and made available.”

For the show Chandran identified master weavers, some of whom now work regularly with his Utsav in Delhi. He also works with many weavers who have taken up the challenge of returning to the colloquial weaving roots of their past.

In his range of prints Earth Shastra focuses on vegetable colours, which are eco-friendly, non-hazardous, gentle, soft and subtle.


Facility extended to Cellone users
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 17
The Chief General Manager of the Punjab Circle, Mr S.C. Choudhary, today said the post-paid cellone corporate customers in Punjab Circle could avail VPN (closed-user group) facility. Under this facility, the cellone customers of an organisation fell under a closed-user group.

He said the outgoing calls as well the incoming calls within the group would be free and no security deposit would be taken from VPN members for subscribing to cellone post-paid service with local and STD facilities. Only Rs 200 as activation fee per connection would be charged.

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