Friday, September 19, 2003, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Public, industry bear brunt of power cuts
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 18
Frequent power shutdowns in several parts of the city during the past few weeks have made life difficult for residents, besides disrupting production in industrial units and affecting business in shops and commercial establishments.

To outsiders, Chandigarh may appear to be a “pampered” city, provided with all modern amenities, including some of the best infrastructural facilities available in the region. But to those who live here it is a different experience altogether.

Unending power cuts, some scheduled and most of them unscheduled, low voltage and frequent fluctuations have become the order of the day.

Long hours of cuts have resulted in losses for the industry. These have affected sales in showrooms, hampered work in offices, especially where systems have been computerised, besides resulting in losses to people storing and selling ice-cream, frozen foods and poultry products. Generators, inventors and UPS systems work only for a few hours as the cuts being imposed nowadays run between five and eight hours. Thankfully, hospitals have back-up systems.

Ram Sharan of Mauli Jagran complained that tubelights did not work at night due to low voltage. Supply frequently goes on the blink in Sector 61, says a resident, Dinesh Malik. Mani Majra resident Jai Pal Singh says the area does not have proper planning.

Part of the blame goes to the faulty planning of the city, where all major power feeders run under or alongside trees. This means that the branches sway in the wind and on contact with high-tension wires, result in tripping. The Electricity Department has already started its annual tree pruning drive along its major feeders.

Everyday, the department announces in local newspapers about the proposed shutdowns. Despite having enough power at its disposal, the Chandigarh electricity wing does not have a distribution system which can ensure an uninterrupted supply without glitches. It needs to be maintained. The official line on the recent shutdowns is that these have increased due to the maintenance work.

Officials say they are preparing for the festival season and the system needs to be maintained. The transformers need greasing, oil needs ought to be filled and various wire joints tightened.

Meanwhile, officials say at certain points the wires are undersized or the public itself is to blame as the sanctioned load is much lower than the actual power consumption. The demand for power has grown manifold in the past few years. The humidity in the past few days has not helped matters as consumption rises, resulting in localised breakdowns at regular intervals. The situation is even worse in the southern sectors.

Things are very bad in the rehabilitation colonies, where the sanctioned loads are far below the actual consumption. Flats have been sold out by the original allottees and the occupants have a higher standard of living, thus requiring more power.

On the other hand, declaring actual loads can be a costly affair for residents. People are not declaring their loads to avoid paying the monthly minimum charges. The monthly minimum charges are pegged at Rs 35 per KW. A normal three-bedroom flat should have a sanctioned load of about 10 KW. Today, even houses for the economically weaker sections have ACs, sources said while highlighting the problem of overloading. 


Baby hippo tries to find its feet
Bipin Bhardwaj

Chhat Bir, September 18
It was a delight watching a two-day-old hippopotamus calf, born at the Mahindra Chaudhary Zoological Park, stagger to its feet as it came out of a pond.

Still too young to be exhibited, it is being tended by the zoo staff, who are fond of the latest arrival. The zoo veterinarians also weigh the female hippo calf, which could not be done yesterday because of its mother’s aggressiveness. The zoo keepers managed to weight it while the mother was being fed liquid calcium and vitamins this afternoon. The calf tipped the scales at 35.5 kg.

The animal was then released into a pond that was refilled after disinfecting it with lime powder. To keep a close watch on the calf, the zoo authorities have deployed three additional employees to assist Mr Charan Singh, a keeper of the hippopotamus enclosure.

Mr Nirmaljit Singh, a veterinary doctor, said the calf was born in the pond. She has hardly come out of the pond and is even sucking milk underwater.

During a visit to the enclosure of the newborn calf, it made its first appearance on land.

Following her mother to the surface of the enclosure, the calf left the pond with staggering steps. She was barely able to stand on a ramp-like portion of the enclosure for a minute but collapsed.

The protective mother rushed towards the baby and accompanied her to the water-filled pond again. She tried to pounce upon the zoo keepers and The Tribune team present around the enclosure.

With the successful breeding of hippopotamus and elephants in captivity, the zoo authorities are hoping to procure animals of exotic species from other Indian zoos through the animal exchange programme. 


Jobless man commits suicide
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, September 18
A 27-year-old physically challenged man committed suicide by hanging himself from the ceiling fan at his Sector 10 residence this morning.

The police said the deceased, Lalit Chaudhary, had been under depression for the past few months. Negligence on part of doctors to repair his fractured arm resulted in a physical deformity in December last year. It had forced Lalit to lose his job at a private bank in Chandigarh.

Relatives of Lalit alleged that the immediate cause for suicide was “humiliation” meted out to him by a local cable operator. Mr J.S. Shangari, a close relative, said Lalit had had a verbal duel with the cable operator yesterday, when the latter had come to collect the monthly tariff. “Lalit reportedly refused to pay the tariff saying that the service provided by the contractor was unsatisfactory. This lead to an argument, following which the cable operator approached the police,” he informed.

Lalit was reportedly summoned to the Sector 10 police post, where a compromise was reached between the two. Minutes after he returned home, he committed suicide. The aggrieved father of the deceased told the police that he had bolted the door of his room from inside after returning from the police post. “After failing to get any answer, I broke open the door and found him hanging,” he said.


Nine vehicles looted
No one robbed, claims police
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, September 18
Barely a month after the highway robbery near Raipur Rani, at least nine vehicles were looted by armed men on the Pinjore- Nalagarh road in the wee hours of the day.

Though the police has denied the looting and maintains that it was only an attempt of robbery, residents of the area say that over nine vehicles, including three oil canters, were looted by armed men between Gareeda and Basola villages on the highway around 4 am today. Three cars and as many trucks were also looted.

However, the Pinjore police claimed that no one had lost any belongings. The DSP Kalka, Mr Rajesh Duggal, informed TNS that since no one had approached the police with a complaint, no FIR had been registered. However, he said the police was investigating the matter. “Unlike in Raipur Rani, which is an isolated place, there is heavy flow of traffic on this road, even after nightfall. So, highway robbery here is a remote possibility. However, we are exploring all possibilities,” he said.

It is alleged that six men, all aged between 20 and 25 years, had blocked the road with a eucalyptus tree. Residents of Gareeda, who were the first to reach the spot and inform the police, said the victims had claimed that the robbers had divided themselves into two groups. While one group was keeping a watch, the other group, consisting of three men, one of them brandishing a pistol, looted the commuters. It is alleged that a resident of Gareeda, who was passing by on a scooter, witnessed the incident and immediately informed the patrolling vehicle of the police a few kilometres away. A wireless message was flashed and a police team from the Pinjore police station, besides the DSP, Kalka, rushed to the spot.

Meanwhile, passengers of a Himachal Roadways bus from Pinjore to Nalagarh saw the sequence of events. They rushed to the rescue of the victims. Seeing them coming, the robbers, under the cover of darkness, managed to escape through the corn fields nearby.


No warning signs near causeways
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 18
Heavy and generally sharp showers this year have exposed causeway users to the danger of getting washed away. Certain bridges have also been damaged, requiring major repair.

Villagers criticise the Chandigarh Administration for the accidents, saying that the areas near Kishangarh and Bapu Dham did not have functional streelights, nor did it have the railings along the causeway to protect people from getting washed away.

The causeways do not have even warning signs to warn the people that passing through a swollen causeway could be dangerous.

The Chief Engineer of the Union Territory, Puranjeet Singh, however, said necessary precautions had been taken by putting up gauges on all causeways. The Chief Engineer said he had directed executive engineers to put up danger signals on the causeways.

Mayor Subhash Chawla said measures were required in this regard during the monsoon. Temporary bridges should be built by the armed forces on these causeways, he added.


Work on for Delhi metro murals at College of Art
Parbina Rashid

Chandigarh, September 18
The Government College of Art, Sector 10, is abuzz with activity these days. While 20 students of different streams are busy making 12 murals to decorate the walls and pillars of Pul Bangash metro station as part of the second phase of the ongoing Delhi Metro beautification project, while other nine students are all set to take part in a logo-making contest organised by the University Grants Commission (UGC).

Working under a four-member team that comprises Mr D.S. Kapoor, Mr Ravinder Sharma, Mr Ishwar Dayal and Mr Trithankar Bhattarcharya, students are working round the clock to create the murals which are to be installed at the Pul Bangash station on September 30. “We are working from 9 am to 8 pm to make this project a success,” says Neha , a second year painting student.

The students are handling various tasks, right from drawing the theme to cutting tiles to give shape to their dreams. “This project is giving us an opportunity to try our hand at mural-making, which is not part of our curriculum”, says Charu Deewan, another second-year student of painting. “We are also making money in the process,” says Hardeep, a fourth-year painting student.

The themes they have selected for this project vary from folk motifs to the abstract. “We have selected themes from everyday life in urban and rural India to beautify the station,” says Prof Brahma Prakash, Principal of the college, and overall in charge of the project. However, many students have selected abstract, as “it is easier to cut the tiles to give shape to abstract forms rather than traditional motifs, which demands more intricacy,” says Neha.

Another team of nine students, a majority of whom from graphics, are all set to take part in the logo-making contest, which is being organised by the UGC. “The UGC authorities are planning to change their logo. So they invited entries from all leading art colleges from India,” says Mr D.S. Kapoor, who is in charge of the project. About 70 students from different streams of the college had sent their entries, of which nine were selected for the final round.

The final works in three-dimensional form in wood are going to be sent to the UGC for final selection. “Thousands of students from prestigious institutes like the College of Art, New Delhi, College of Art, Vadodara, Department of Fine Arts, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, and the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, are going to take part in the contest.

The winner will be honoured by the President of India and the winning logo will become the logo of the UGC,” Mr Kapoor said.


Tribune impact
Order on chemist shop being reviewed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 18
The controversial role of the former Adviser to the UT Administrator, Mr Virendra Singh, in allowing a chemist shop to operate in Government Medical College and Hospital Sector 32, is being examined. Well placed sources said the decision was being studied and the Administration today opened the tenders inviting fresh bids for the shop in the presence of the bidders while the GMCH will seek legal opinion on the matter.

The Adviser during his last days of posting here had allowed Kumar Brothers, a chemist, to continue operating a shop in the Government Medical College and Hospital at a rental of Rs 1.38 lakh per month fixed in 1997. The case of arbitration to decide the rental had been pending before the Adviser for the last few months. The chemist was granted extension till June 21, 2005. The contract between the chemist and the GMCH expired on June 21 this year. According to the file the matter was decided on September 3 while the Adviser was transferred on September 9 sources said.

In the bids opened today the highest bid was for Rs 5.26 lakh a month while the lowest bid was for Rs 4.70 lakh a month. There were a total of eight bidders and six of them were present today. This means the loss caused by the Adviser to the exchequer by his one decision runs into Rs 4 lakh a month and about Rs 98 lakh for two years. Till the tenders were opened the loss was estimated to be Rs 70 lakh.

The GMCH authorities had invited tenders for the shop in April this year. At present, the rent of the shop measuring 652 square feet is fixed at Rs 1.38 lakh per month. Interestingly, an adjoining shop measuring 193 square feet is fetching Rs 3.33 lakh.

When a tender was called again, the occupant, Kumar Brothers made an appeal before the Adviser to the Administrator, Mr Virendra Singh. The GMCH filed their reply, citing the reasons for readvertising the shop. Meanwhile the Kumar Brothers, in their appeal had cited a number of cases, where government property, leased several years ago, was still fetching rent, far less than the market rate. They have also pointed out that the chemist shop in General Hospital, Sector 16 was leased out almost 10 years ago and the authorities had made no efforts to get it vacated.


Society to honour blood donors
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 18
The Blood Bank Society will honour blood donors with 50 or more donations in the PGI, the GMCH and General Hospital, Sector 16, as well as donors with three or four donations made from September 1, last year to September 1, 2003, and women donors with two donations during the same period, at its annual function on October 1.

The society will also honour new mastercard holders, donor motivators and organisations with 100 or more donors in their camps, according to a press note issued here.

The society has also asked blood donors in the above categories to come with their folding cards to the society’s office, third floor, PGI, between 10 am and 4 pm on September 19 and 20. This will help the society to categorise the donors according to their number of donations. Telephone No. during office hours : 747 585 extention 6484, or 548411 from 2 pm to 8 pm.


Traffic blocked against demolitions
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, September 18
Residents of Jagatpura village, near here, blocked the road in front of the office of PUDA’s Additional Chief Administrator (ACA) in Phase I here today in protest against demolitions carried out by PUDA yesterday. The traffic blockade lasted about two hours. The ACA did not meet the protesters. The enforcement staff of PUDA had removed 12 structures from Jagatpura village. These included two saw mills, three cattlesheds and a few shops dealing in shuttering material.

The protesters, who were dairy owners, demanded that PUDA should permit them to restart their business and give compensation to the affected persons. They claimed that their dairies were outside the “lal dora” and their land had not been acquired yet by PUDA.

They gave a week’s time to PUDA to meet their demands failing which they threatened to organise a protest by residents of all villages on the periphery of SAS Nagar.


IT survey yields 72 lakh

Chandigarh, September 18
An unaccounted income of over Rs 72 lakh was surrendered by the owners of the two groups in an income tax survey.

According to the information, Euro Containers, Industrial Polytechs and Plastics Sales India surrendered unaccounted income of Rs 60 lakh. Another group, Kunal Agencies, surrendered Rs 12.50 lakh as unaccounted income. TNS


Jewellery designer’s house robbed
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, September 18
Jewellery and cash worth about Rs 7 lakh has been stolen from the house of a jewellery designer and dealer here.

The crime came to the notice of the family last evening. The designer, Ms Harjot Sodhi, said gold jewellery worth about Rs 6 lakh and Rs one lakh in cash were stolen from her one kanal house in Phase IX, yesterday.

Ms Sodhi, whose husband is in the Merchant Navy and is on leave these days, said most of the time her father-in-law was alone in the house. As her father-in-law was indisposed, a domestic help had been employed 15 days ago to look after him.

The domestic help, Dinesh (21), a resident of Gorakhpur, had been missing since yesterday. Ms Sodhi’s son, Inder, who studies in an engineering college at Bhaddal, happened to return home early from his college around 3.30 p.m. yesterday. Inder found that Dinesh was not in home and called up his mother to know about his whereabout. She said she did not know and presumed that he would return shortly.

Inder later rang her up from their house around 7 p.m. requesting her for money to buy books. He also enquired why she had not locked her bedroom as usual on that day. Ms Sodhi became suspicious and rushed back home from Chandigarh where she has two outlets dealing in silver jewellery. On reaching home she found that Rs 1 lakh in currency notes of Rs 500 and inherited jewellery, which she had recently taken out from a bank locker, were missing.

She said she had some work in Patiala and left her house around 10 a.m. Dinesh had been employed by Ms Sodhi’s mother about eight years ago. Ms Sodhi said he was an obedient worker and had won the confidence of the family.

A case has been registered by the police. It is learnt that two brothers of the prime suspect, Dinesh, have been picked up by the police from Delhi for questioning.


Six power theft cases registered
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 18
The Chandigarh Police today booked persons from six industrial units for alleged power theft using devices to tamper with electronic meters.

Baldev Singh from plot number 181/27, Industrial Area, Phase I, Jaswant Singh, Arjun Malhotra, Ranbir, Shiv Pal Singh from plot numbers 414, 415 and 1047, Industrial Area, Phase II, Jaswant Singh, Ashok Kumar and others from plot number 1059, Industrial Area, Phase II, and Baljit Singh from SCO 97, Sector 44, have been booked, the police said in a press note. It has, however, not released the names of the industrial units allegedly involved in the racket.

One case has been registered at the Industrial Area police station, four at the Sector 31 police station and one in Sector 34 under Section 379 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 39 of the Indian Electricity Act.

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