Monday, September 22, 2003, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Housing society members allege Rs 3-cr bungling
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 21
Members of the Shivalik Cooperative House Building Society, Sector 49, have alleged bungling of over Rs 3 crore by the president of the society. In a meeting held here today, they urged the administration to order an inquiry, the accounts of the society scrutinised and take appropriate action against its president Rakesh Mahindra.

Addressing a press conference after the meeting, Mr J.P. Singh, president of the Shivalik Residents Welfare Association, alleged: “Members of the society have not been provided with details of the expenditure incurred on the construction of flats. In March, 1998, the management had given an estimate of Rs 8.10 lakh and Rs 6.10 lakh for the construction of category ‘A’ and category ‘B’ flats, respectively. It included cost of water, electricity, sewerage, roads and car parking.”

However, he said, despite additional collection of Rs 1.60 lakh and Rs 1.40 lakh for category ‘A’ and ‘B’ flats, respectively, these facilities had not been provided fully. In a memorandum submitted to the Additional Registrar, Cooperative Societies, Chandigarh, the association alleged that the president had not deposited the enhanced land cost of about Rs 13 lakh, despite the fact that out of 85 members of the society, all members, except one or two, had deposited their contribution. It was resulting in heavy interest costs to the members every month.

Mr Rakesh Mahindra, when contacted, said,”I have still to collect over Rs 1 crore from members. Since most of the members have already sold their flats through general power of attorney, the new allottees have no locus standi to make complaints against the management.” He said about seven houses were still under construction and two members had declined to take possession of their flats resulting in financial losses to the society.

Mr Rakesh Sood, one of the allottees, said though he had paid Rs 7.05 lakh to Mr Mahindra, he had not been given possession of the flat. He alleged that the president of the society had collected lakhs from the allottees, but was not handing over the possession of flats to them.

Mr P.K. Singh, spokesperson of the association, said the president himself had sold flats to a number of residents. Now he was saying that they could not become members of the society. He said in May, when they forced him to conduct elections, 59 members were declared defaulters without giving any show-cause notice, and election results were manipulated.

Mr Mahindra, however, denied all these allegations and said,” I have received a letter from Mr Inder Kumar, enquiry officer appointed by the Registrar, Cooperative Societies, to appear before him on September 22. He will conduct an inquiry and the matter would soon be resolved.”


Poor follow-up on college inspection reports by PU
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 21
Certain questions on the aspect of regular college inspections by Panjab University remain unanswered in the absence of proper follow-up on the action taken by institutions on suggestions of university teams. Loopholes in recruitment of faculty and availability of minimum infrastructure in classrooms and laboratories continue to haunt a large number of colleges.

A number of colleges are lacking in laboratory facilities and concurrently also in raw material (chemicals, gas and apparatus) to carry out laboratory work. In the absence of sanction of posts by the Punjab Government, colleges were recruiting teachers out of their own funds where the qualifications were under doubt in several cases. The payments were not as per the UGC guidelines in several cases.

The issue figured hotly at the highest level of the university administration lately. It gains importance now because the university has authorised the Vice Chancellor to appoint 30 inspection committees for as many colleges. However, there is no mention of any proposals for follow-up action on the past inspections, if any.

Mr Ashok Goyal at the Syndicate meeting of August had questioned the validity of inspection reports in the absence of any follow-up action. Despite several lacunae in the existing settings, the university lacked any concrete action to ensure implementation of its recommendations.

Dr Dinesh Talwar pointed out the case of SMS Karamjot College for Women, Miani, where the teachers were paid 20 per cent lesser than the actual salaries. The staff members themselves were contributing the employee share of the provident fund. More than a dozen employees were either suspended or facing other problems at the hands of administration. Prof Charanjit Chawla said the university could take strict action in case a college did not follow university instructions. However, some example had shown otherwise.

Principal P.S. Sangha and Principal S.C. Marriya pointed out the problems being faced by colleges in appointing regular staff in the absence of full share of government grants. It was also pointed out by Professor Chawla that the colleges located in the semi-urban areas and the rural areas had a distinct set of problems. The university should see the population to which the institution was catering to and its financial capabilities. Professor Chawla added that the university calendar had a provision on the follow-up action, however, the results on ground showed poor implementation. He feels that the committee that inspects an institution should be asked to keep up with the progress on its report by the university.

The university calendar provides for each college to be inspected once in four years to see implementation of affiliation conditions and qualifications of the teaching staff. The committee will see the duty performance on the front of the students and maintenance of record registers. The committee also checks the availability of chemicals, paper, library facilities and even furniture.


Pit on road causes mishaps
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, September 21
An unidentified cyclist had a narrow escape when he along with his bicycle fell in a 12-foot-deep pit near the roundabout on the road separating Sectors 32 and 33 in the late hours tonight.

A portion of the road had caved in this evening after a sewer pipeline burst. The rain in the evening and darkness in the area created a serious problem for commuters. Earlier in the evening, the rear wheel of a loaded truck had also got stuck in the pit, which was later pulled out.

As per police sources, the rescuers had to pull the cyclist out of the pit using the turban that he was wearing. He was taken to a hospital with minor injuries.

Though no officials concerned reached the spot till the filing of this report, a PCR Gypsy had been posted in order to avoid more accidents.

It is worth mentioning here that this part of the road had caved in a few years ago and the traffic on the road had remained disrupted for weeks.

No official was available for comments. 


Sector 17 bus terminus stinks
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 21
Devoid of adequate seating arrangements, clean public toilets and emergency medical facilities, the Inter State Bus Terminus (ISBT) in Sector 17 can do with a facelift.

The Chandigarh Administration has failed to provide good facilities at the terminal, though it earns over Rs 5 crore annually from the parking fee of buses and rent of shops. Over one lakh passengers, including hundreds of foreigners, daily use the terminal. More than 2,500 buses pass through it for local and long routes to almost all destinations in north India. Transport officials say that after Delhi, it is the largest bus terminal in north India.

The condition of the ISBT is much better if compared with terminals at Delhi or any other city in Punjab and Haryana, but there is still a scope for improvement. For instance, the public toilets are always stinking and there is no proper sitting arrangement for passengers. Is is too much to expect filtered drinking water and good chairs to sit,” asks Mr Ravinder Kumar, a passenger coming from Khamano.

He adds that due to foul smell emanating from the toilets, it is almost impossible to enter the terminal from its rear side after parking one’s two wheeler in the basement. The place is just a dumping ground for dhaba owners and sweepers.

A visit to the ISBT reveals that most of drivers do not park their buses properly and make passengers alight at any place. “I have come here to receive my wife, who is coming from Delhi, but do not know where to wait,” says Mr Deepak Chauhan, a bank employee. The bus drivers at times make passengers alight outside the ISBT, he says.

The Supreme Court may have banned smoking in all public places, including bus terminals, but one can see a number of drivers and conductors flouting this rule openly. Moreover, there is not even a single chemist shop. Mr Ravinder Kumar, manning a coffee shop says,” The management should ensure proper cleanliness.”

Interestingly, the terminal is supervised by a Class III employee, Mr Ramesh Chand Negi, who is the station supervisor. He is working without any telephone and has to ask his seniors before taking any decision. The General Manager, who is supposed to look after the terminal, sits in Industrial Area, miles away from here.

Drivers lamented that though hundreds of buses are parked here every night, the terminal lacked adequate rest rooms and toilets. Mr Ram Niwas, a driver of Haryana Roadways from Narnaul, said “We expect better arrangements from the Administration which earns crores from the terminal.” Mr Negi, however, said, “We are making best efforts, but it is up to the Administration to improve the conditions.”


Soul-searching exercise by top cops
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 21
A seminar organised jointly by the Haryana police and New Delhi-based Institute of Social Sciences here today saw top cops of Haryana and Punjab doing some soul searching on sensitive issues, including as to why the public had lost faith in the police.

Even the CBI crumbles when it comes to probing against people in high places, said Mr B.R. Lal, a senior IPS officer of the Haryana cadre, while participating in the seminar organised to deliberate on the recommendations made by the Malimath Committee on police investigation and victim compensation.

Mr Lal, now Chairman-cum-MD of the Police Housing Corporation, said the CBI had been successful in carrying out investigations against people of middle and lower rungs. Mr Lal, who had a stint with the CBI, said that the agency, however, failed to secure conviction of influential people booked in disproportionate assets cases.

The problem, according to Mr Lal, was the prevailing “feudal mindset” which accorded a sacrosanct status to the people in high places. Giving another instance of the feudal mindset, Mr Lal said that when a proposal came up for making the post of DGP a permanent and non-transferable assignment so that the DGP could withstand political pressure, the proposal was opposed by all the Chief Ministers of India. It was then proposed to implement the idea in Delhi which was a union territory. But veteran communist leader Indrajit Gupta, who was then the Union Home Minister, turned it down, Mr Lal said and added that if any police reform was to be successful, the police as well as the administrative department would have to break the shackles of feudal attitudes.

Inaugurating the seminar, Mr A A Siddiqui, DGP of Punjab, said that people had lost faith in the police because of its inefficiency. He suggested that special training should be given to investigating officers to make them more effective. Mr M S Malik, DGP of Haryana, said the police functioning reflected the prevailing morality of society. When morality of society would reach a higher stage, the police would automatically become a better force, he said.

Mr K.P. Singh, DIG, CID, Haryana, made a presentation about the police investigating agency of the future. He said that jail term for criminals alone was not a sufficient deterrent for crime. He suggested that subjecting a criminal to pecuniary losses would be more effective method of curbing crime. Mr K P Singh also said that crimes should be divided in two categories — crime against the state and other crimes. Heinous crimes like murder, rape, etc should be considered as crime against the state and dealt with sternly, he said.

The issue of handcuffing criminals and admissibility of confession made before the police as evidence in the court was also discussed. The lawyers, invited to the seminar, however, opposed the recommendation made by the Malimath Committee regarding treating confession made before the police as evidence. On the issue of handcuffing, the consensus appeared to be that the power should be used by the police only when it was absolutely necessary. The seminar was presided over by Mr Shankar Sen, a retired IPS officer, who is now the Director of the Institute of Social Sciences.


TA recruits to get regular training
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 21
Recruits of the Territorial Army (TA) will have to undergo basic training alongside regular Army recruits at Army regimental centres. The move requires that TA recruits will have to undergo nine months’ training at the Army’s training establishments instead of the present three-month basic course conducted by their respective battalions.

A letter issued by the TA Directorate at Army Headquarters to its units in August states that “from now on” recruit training for TA personnel would be conducted alongside the regular Army for a period of nine months.

While the first three months of the revamped training programme would correspond to the one-month basic training and the two-month annual training camp which a TA volunteer undergoes on signing, the remaining six months would be considered as voluntary training attachment. Whether employers would be willing to spare TA volunteers, who are supposed to be “gainfully employed” civilians, for nine months, is a question being raised in certain quarters.

Confirming the move, a senior officer at the TA Directorate said that the new training programme has been initiated to ensure higher professional standards. “There are indications that the TA may play a more active role in the coming years and is expected to take over some of the tasks presently being undertaken by the regular Army,” the officer said. “In this background, the need for having a better trained force was felt,” he added. Besides, the TA is being expanded, with more infantry battalions and specialised units being raised. The officer also said that though getting officers for long durations could be a problem, no such difficulty is expected in the case of jawans.

The move to increase the jawans training period and club them alongside the regular Army comes on the heels of a similar move to upgrade the training for TA officers. Henceforth, TA officers would be required to undergo a three-month training stint at the Indian Military Academy, Dehra Dun, after having completed their basic training in their respective units.

The TA Directorate, it is learnt, had taken up the matter of training recruits at regimental centres with the Infantry Directorate at Army Headquarters a few months ago, following which modalities were worked out. While the training infrastructure would be that of the regimental centres, the cost of training expenses would be borne by the TA.

The move also has serious financial implications. Besides the cost of training, a TA volunteer, unlike his regular Army counterpart, is entitled to full pay and allowances from the day he is enrolled and is embodied for service or training. This means that while regular Army recruits alongside whom they would be training would be getting a stipend, TA volunteers would be drawing full pay and allowances.


Vikas Nagar residents protest against police
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, September 21
Over 300 residents of Vikas Nagar, Mauli Jagran, gathered at the local police post to lodge their protest against inaction on part of the police in a case of alleged beating up of a residence, Vicky, by employees of an electricity contractor here today.

The area DSP, Mr S.C. Abrol, reached the spot and assured the agitating residents that a meeting would be arranged between them and the electricity contractor to sort out the issue.

A few days ago, Vicky had lodged a complaint with the police that he was beaten up by four employees of the area electricity contractor. Acting on the complaint, the police had booked one of the accused. Vicky and other residents are demanding registration of case against the remaining three accused also.

The police, however, claimed that appropriate action had already been taken in the case and no further action was required.


The lost treasurehouse of rare but cheap books
Dr D.S. Gupta

Chandigarh, September 21
I still have a few of the books which I purchased from the old book market, Sector 15, some 40 years ago. It was in 1961-62 that I first visited Panjab University, Chandigarh. It was in connection with my Ph.D. on “Keshav’s poetry in the light of modern psychology”. I was working in the DAN College of Education, Nawanshahr as lecturer and had meagre resources to pursue my higher studies.

I remember locating a book on psychology by R.S. Woodworth for my doctoral research. It cost me only Rs 5 at that time at the book market.

We used to call it the kabaari market in the beginning. There were only two persons selling books that they had collect from houses at the rate of 50 paise a ser (greater than 1 kg) along with Re 1 per ser for old newspapers.

In the evening, the kabaariwalas (old book vendors) used to sit on the kutcha area in Sector 15-D, opposite Panjab University Gate No 2. Some of the books were rare and priceless. The ones I picked up included ‘Nirmala’ by great fiction writer Munshi Prem Chand and the latest 1967 edition of ‘Intimacy’ by Jean-Paul Satre (translated version). A number of intellectuals from the university, research scholars and school/college students use to hunt for books on such varying subjects as English grammar, fiction (both in Hindi and English), engineering and medicine.

Gradually, the number of vendors increase to 35. They used to lay books on the carpet spread on the ground. This treasure house seemed an affordable bargain within the reach of a common man’s pocket. It seemed like an open air book fair or open library, always attracting book lovers.

I added to my personal library books of eminent writers like Shakespeare as also the prescriber by J.H. Clarke (a best-selling book on homeopathy) just for Rs 5 and Rs 3, respectively.

My son Prabhat was engaged in research for his doctoral degree in the Indian Theatre Department. He too purchased a book from this market titled ‘Stanislavsky’ by Eleno Polyakova in 1984 just for Rs 8. Though unfortunately he died while saving the life of a child in 1987, the priceless treasure is still with me.

Some three months back when I visited this open library, to my surprise I saw many new title on information technology, management, MBA and basic sciences in keeping with the needs of the young readers at economical prices.

The other day, when I was standing near the university’s Gate No 2, a heavy police contingent with Municipal Corporation staff descended on the scene. The staff were loading books from the market in a vehicle. Suddenly they decide to burn the books rather than letting somebody take them.

It was great shock to me. While politicians and academicians on the one hand preach for inculcating the habit of book loving and reading, some persons probably having a vested interest wanted the friendly open book exhibition removed. 


BJP to have no poll pact with INLD in Rajasthan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 21
The BJP today indicated that it would not have any alliance or seat adjustment with the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) in the Rajasthan Assembly elections due in November apparently after its failure last time in the state as well souring relations in Haryana.

“Except in Delhi, the BJP will go it alone in the elections in the four other states,” BJP general secretary Pramod Mahajan told mediaperson at the Chandigarh Press Club today.

When asked that the party had a seat adjustment in 1998 Rajasthan Assembly elections leaving five seats to the INLD, Mr Mahajan said Mr Chautala was not content with the same number of seats now.

The BJP’s refusal for seat adjustment with Mr Chautala is being considered a calculated ploy of the BJP to leave Mr Chautala in the fray to eat into the traditionally Congress supporting Jat vote bank in Rajasthan. In the 1998 Assembly elections in Rajasthan, the two parties had failed to make a dent in the state. Mr Mahajan, however, said the BJP would continue its alliance with the Shiromani Akali Dal in the Delhi Assembly poll.

On Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh indulging in political vendetta, Mr Mahajan said the scene in Punjab resembled that of the Emergency, with his political opponents being threatened with police cases. The BJP general secretary said when the judiciary could intervene in the issues like CNG use and Best Bakery, why it should not speed up the disposal of the Ayodhya suit, pending a decision for 50 years.

He disapproved of Human Resource Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi’s resignation, saying that it was not the first time that he had been chargesheeted in the Ayodhya case. He said Mr L. K. Advani, Mr Joshi and Ms Uma Bharati had been inducted into the ministry by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee despite having been chargesheeted in the same case by a Lucknow court. The charges were dropped in 2001, he said. Mr Mahajan said the construction of the Ram temple at Ayodhya would remain one of the issues in the coming Lok Sabha elections.

Rejecting the demand of the Congress for the resignation of those who have been chargesheeted by a Rae Bareli court, Mr Mahajan said let the Congress withdraw support to Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi who had been chargesheeted in a case of having assets disproportionate to known sources of income.

A day after his party boss M. Venkaiah Naidu favoured an Act of Parliament for the resolution of the Ayodhya dispute, Mr Mahajan said except for the BJP and Shiv Sena, no other NDA partner was in favour of it.


Ram Mandir to be poll plank, says Mahajan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 21
Construction of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya would be the main poll plank of the BJP in the coming general elections next year. Addressing a rally of party workers here, the All-India General Secretary of the party, Mr Parmod Mahajan, said the mandir was not the issue of the Vishawa Hindu Parishad (VHP) or the Sangh Parivar, but it was the voice of the masses.

However, he added that the party strongly believed that the construction of the mandir should be through consensus. Referring to the findings of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), he questioned delay on the part of judiciary in settling the case.

Calling upon the party workers to ensure defeat of the Congress at the Chandigarh Lok Sabha seat, he said in the coming general elections the fight was between Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Ms Sonia Gandhi.

He said Mr Vajpayee was the only politician after Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, who remained Prime Minister during three Lok Sabhas. The Mission-2004 was aimed at seeing Vajpayee as the Prime Minister for the fourth term. He said the foundation stone of a project to link major rivers in the country would soon be laid in Madhya Pradesh.

He praised the local party unit for electing unopposed Mr Satya Pal Jain as a member of the national executive and Mr Yash Pal Mahajan as the president of the local unit. He admitted that there had been infighting in the local party unit. But the consensus elections signalled a positive future for the party, he added.

Earlier, Mr Satya Pal Jain, who was re-elected member of the national executive, said the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, was interfering in the issues relating to hike in petrol price and employees of Chandigarh. He threatened to gherao the residence of the Punjab Chief Minister on the issue.

Mr Jain said the demolition drive in slums, death of cows at the hands of the corporation staff and Chandigarh Club issue of the Mayor would be the main issues of the party. He demanded a CBI probe into the death of cows. He said the Member of Parliament , Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, did come out openly against the death of cows at the hands of the corporation staff .

Mr Yash Pal Mahajan, who was announced president of the local party unit today, said the party would win the Chandigarh seat. Mr O.P. Dhankad, All-India Secretary of the party, said the party membership in the city had increased from 14,000 to 20,000. From September 25, the part would launch a door to door campaign.



Who’s the Adviser?

Public Relations men of the government can be humorous also. This was discovered by a colleague during the times when rumours were doing the rounds that Mr Virendra Singh was to be replaced as Adviser.

The scribe asked a PR man why they had not named the Adviser in a press release and just mentioned his designation. The PR man replied: “Kuch nahin pata kad badal jawe te asin naam galat bhej deviye” (One never knows when he is going to be transferred and we do not want to send the wrong name).

The words turned out to be true as the Adviser was transferred late at night following an order of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.

Odissi unplugged

It is very difficult to do justice to lecture demonstration programmes. Ever since its inception, SPIC MACAY has been holding many such programmes for children and youth. However, very few artistes are able to give form to such programmes. More often than not lecture demonstrations are reduced to a recital, based on technical nuances of the art form, which the viewing children can hardly relate with.

A welcome departure came when odissi dancer Kiran Sehgal was asked to hold one such demonstration for the students of YPS in SAS Nagar. Establishing an instant rapport with her young audience, the performer brought home the theme of odissi not only by depicting the subtleties of the form, but also by involving the students, who were on stage with her for a major part of the show.

After making a presentation of odissi which draws from iconography, Kiran Sehgal asked about 10 boys to join her for dance exercises on the stage. Referring to tribhanga (which is the quintessential posture of odissi), Kiran taught the boys to stand in tribhanga posture. Drained after about 20 minutes of rigorous dance exercise, the children actually knew what odissi was all about — grace and a great deal of stamina. That was odissi unplugged for YPS children!

Tagore Theatre a hit

Tagore Theatre of Chandigarh is suddenly drawing appreciation from all quarters. The hot venue for the National Theatre Festival organised by the Haryana Cultural Affairs Department and also for the prestigious NSD Repertory Festival, the auditorium has more than satisfied the attending theatre troupes , with all its recently acquired amenities.

The rehearsal room, most visiting theatre experts feel, is more than spacious to enable quality work. Even the green rooms have been renovated completely. The infrastructural facilities apart, the visitors from outside feel that the best part of the theatre is its “arty” ambience, which has an attractive fountain in the backyard. After hectic rehearsals every day, the attending theatre artistes are often seen gathering around the well laid out fountain area and sipping cups of coffee available at the theatre cafeteria.

Some praise!

The truck operators of Himachal Pradesh, who have to pass through the city, while moving towards Delhi and other markets, are full of praise for the Chandigarh Traffic Police for strange reasons. Since most of the trucks are overloaded with apples these days in violation of the Motor Vehicle Act, they attract heavy penalty from the officials of the State Transport Authority and could be challaned by the traffic police. Said one of truck drivers the other day,” I feel the Chandigarh police is much better as compared to their counterparts in Haryana and UP. Since we have to overload trucks up to 17 tonnes against the rule of just nine tonnes, we are often stopped by the traffic police on the way. While in UP and Haryana one has to pay up to Rs 200 to Rs 500, the police men in Chandigarh agrees to clear the way by taking even Rs 50.”

Cinegoers’ woes

A few years back when Mr K.K.Khandelwal was the DC, Chandigarh, he had made it sure that every cinema in the City Beautiful abided by the rules under the Cinema Act. This included proper canteen facilities, working ACs, clean toilets and comfortable seats. But it seems with his going the norms have also changed.

Be it any cinema, the viewers have to sweat it out while standing in the queue for buying tickets. Inside the hall they have to virtually look out for fans to make themselves comfortable. The safety drill to check fire extinguishers has long been forgotten. In certain cinemas the projection facility and the sound system are so poor that one has to strain one’s eyes to make out what is going on on the screen and cover one’s ears to lessen the shrillness.

PU convocation

Panjab University this year will have its Chancellor gracing the annual convocation, which has been a rare occurance on the campus . Mr Bhairon Singh Sekhawat, Vice-President, is expected to come on December 13.

Interestingly, in majority of the universities in the country the state Governor concerned holds the office of the Chancellor. PU happens to have the Vice-President as Chancellor.

A senior research scholar said the university should try to make an attempt for a brief interaction of the Chancellor with the students.

Bullet Club

Fifteen city youth, including two women, who are part of the Chandigarh Bullet Club are away on a seven-day tour to promote bike touring. The youth are on seven motorcycles, all Royal Enfields, to Hemkund, Valley of Flowers, Badrinath, Vashu Dhara, Kedarnath and Auli.

The group will come back on September 21. One of the bikers said: “We are the Royal Enfield community from the city beautiful and we are recognised by Royal Enfield Motors as Chandigarh Bullet Club, a community of Royal Enfield motorcycle owners, who cherish riding their bikes more than anything else. We are promoting the ‘touring on your bike’ culture in this part of the world.” They departed here on September 14.

— Sentinel


Housing societies eye Panchkula extension again
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, September 21
Efforts to popularise the concept of group housing societies in the township by offering various sops, has finally paid off. A year after more than 80 per cent of the allottees of group housing societies had surrendered their plots, a number of applications have again been received for these plots.

By increasing floor area from 150 sqm to 300 sqm decreasing the size of plot for a society (from 1 acre to half acre) and certain other changes in registration (as compared to 40 members required for registration earlier, only 20 are required now), allowing construction of community centre and shops on societies land and the waiving off of operation and maintenance charges, the people are once again being wooed for investing in group housing societies.

Sources in the Department of Town and Country Planning said 16 applications had been received for group housing societies in Sectors 20, 23, 24, 25 and 27. The scheme was floated in March, 2003.

It may be noted that the group housing project in Panchkula extension was a near failure with almost 93 per cent of these societies in Sectors 23, 24, 25, 27 and 28 had surrendered the plots. Most of that land was now being offered as residential plots. Around 30 plots were again offered to group housing societies.

The new blueprint for Panchkula extension, prepared after the plots were surrendered, has provision for only nine group housing societies in Sectors 23, 15 in Sector 24 whereas earlier there were 24 housing society sites in Sector 23, 24 in Sector 24 and 33 in Sector 28.

As many as 479 residential plots have been carved out in Sector 23 (earlier the sector was meant for only group housing societies), 1,008 in Sector 27 (part I and II) (earlier 337 residential plots were marked in this sector), 1,966 in Sector 28 (part I, II and III) — all on the land surrendered by group housing societies.

Though the group housing project in these sectors had failed earlier, the authorities were now hoping for a reversal of trend here. The cracks that had appeared near Nadda choe in January, 2001, had created a fear among plot-holders, especially group housing societies, who started surrendering their plots. In fact, other than the Mansa Devi Complex, the concept of group housing societies has not picked up. Even in Sector 20 here, most of the society plots are still unoccupied.


IAF postings
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 21
The two major Air Force establishments in Chandigarh — No.3 Base Repair Depot (BRD) and No.12 Wing — will see a change of guard next month.

According to sources, Gp Capt T.P.S. Virk has been tipped to take over as the Air Officer Commanding, 3 BRD, on promotion to Air Commodore. He is currently serving as the Chief of Planning at the same depot. He will take over from Air Cmde S.B. Prashar, who retires at the end of this month.

In another development, AOC 12, Wing, Air Cmde Arun Gopinath has been posted to Air Headquarters, New Delhi. Group Captain Tellu, a transport pilot presently serving at the Central Air Command, Allahabad, will take over the reins of 12 Wing on promotion next month.

Air Commodore Prashar has taken over command of 3 BRD on November 2, 2001, whereas Air Commodore Gopinath had assumed command of 12 Wing on July 18, 2002.

This is perhaps the first time that a simultaneous change of guard is taking place where both incumbents are coming here on promotion. While 3 BRD is an aircraft maintenance outfit, 12 Wing is an operational flying base.


Onam celebrated
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, September 21
Over 60 Malayalee families residing here and associated with the Panchkula Malayalee Association celebrated Onam with great fervour on Sunday. The president of the association, Mr P.M. Philip, extended Onam wishes to all. Various traditional sports, including tug-of-war, were arranged.

This was followed by a colourful cultural programme of folk dances, including Thiruvathira (Koikottikala), a traditional dance form directed by Ms Tara Shankar. Later, a feast was served on banana leaves, consisting of 21 different delicacies. Dr John V. George, IG Haryana Police, distributed prizes to participants.


Residents resent destruction of green belt
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, September 21
A number of residents of Sector 61 blocked traffic in protest against the destruction of a green belt in the area here today.

Residents blocked traffic on the road leading from YPS Chowk to Madanpur Chowk. The traffic was then diverted by the Chandigarh Police.

Residents said that PUDA was constructing a road through the green belt in the area which would not be allowed. Though most part of Sector 61 fell in SAS Nagar, a number of MIG houses were built by the Chandigarh Housing Board on a small piece of land which fell under Chandigarh.

Residents of this area had also protested on September 17 in this regard.


NGO for inquiry into removal of congress grass
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, September 21
A local NGO, Peoples Voice Gods Voice (PVGV), has demanded a Vigilance inquiry into the alleged “fraud of about Rs 6 lakh in the work of removal of congress grass from internal roads and vacant plots and a payment of Rs 14.40 lakh to the contractor in case of sanitation contract”.

In a letter to the Chief Minister, the Founder of the NGO, Mr B.L. Tandon, has claimed that the area affected by congress grass is about 225000 sqm, after excluding the area already maintained by residents. “At the rate of Rs 0.75 per sq meter, the total cost comes out to be Rs 1.70 lakh, whereas the total payment made to the contractor is for Rs 6 lakh,” he alleged.

He further alleged that the issue of the removal of congress grass had been mixed with the removal of malba from the internal roads, thus the contract value was about Rs 10 lakh.

Similarly in the case of sanitation contract, only 200 sweepers were actually employed by the contractor as against 295 sweepers, specified in the contract agreement.


Man elopes with minor
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, September 21
A factory worker, hailing from Gharwal, allegedly fled with a minor girl of Bhagwas village located on the Dera Bassi-Barwala road, about 5 km from here, today.

The youth had been residing in a rented accommodation near the girl’s house in the same village for the past couple of years. In a complaint to the police, father of the girl, Mr Maan Singh, alleged that the youth had abducted his 16-year-old daughter two days ago. The police has not registered any case yet.


Three thefts reported
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, September 21
Three cases of theft were reported from different parts of the city during the past 24 hours. Mr Varinder Singh of SAS Nagar reported that his Maruti car (CHK 8765) was stolen from Panchayat Bhavan, Sector 18, here on Friday. A resident of Sector 31 reported that audio cassettes and a speaker was stolen from his Tata Sumo car while it was parked outside his residence.

In another case, thieves reportedly entered into Sector 7-C house of Mr Krishan Singh sometime between September 16 and 19 and took away some gold and silver jewellery. The house was unoccupied during the above said time.


Molestation bid
A middle-aged man, Sukhdev Singh, allegedly tried to molest a woman at Khatauli village on Sunday. The woman was working in the fields when Sukhdev Singh tried to molest her. The woman screamed for help and the man fled. A case under Section 354 of IPC has been registered. 

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