C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Student alleges thrashing by Principal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 7
Skipping school for a day on account of ill-health proved a nightmare for Parul Sharma, a Class X student of Government Model High School, Sector 28, who was thrashed by the principal in the morning assembly.

Alleging that the Principal, Mr Subhash Aggarwal, beat her up in front of the entire school, a horrified Parul said: “I took leave on December 5 as I was running high temperature. I could not have taken the chance of attending school since the following day I had to sit in my examination. However, in the evening, I got calls from my friends telling me that my name would be struck off from the rolls for taking leave and that I would not be allowed to take the examination the next day.”

While she was anxious about her examination, she was worried about the consequences of taking leave when she went to school the next day. “I was not allowed to take the examination and asked to call my father, who came within no time. Outside the office of the Principal, he protested the decision to prevent her from taking the exam,” she added.

Her father, Mr Satya Prakash Sharma, employed with a multi-national company, said: “While I was condemning the decision of the school authorities for not allowing children to sit in the examination, with other parents called to the school for the same reason, a teacher overheard me and entered into an argument over criticism of the school,” he stated.

Later, Mr Sharma met Mr Subhash Aggarwal who he claims misbehaved with him and asked him to wait in his office. “I told him I had a job to do and could not wait, following which he threatened me with dire consequences. I didn’t want a confrontation and despite paucity of time, waited only to be threatened by him again,” he claimed.

What followed proved to be a nightmare for Parul. “After my father left, my teachers conveyed to me that the principal wanted to see me. I thought he would scream at me at the most and let go. Instead, he spoke rather harshly to me. I was given a thrashing by the principal in front of the whole assembly and nobody came to my rescue. I came home and told my father about the incident,” she alleged.

“I went to the police station and they turned me away saying either I should get a medical examination of my daughter done or work out a compromise with the principal. I tried to reason with them that she was slapped repeatedly by her principal and the medical examination would not yield any result. The principal was not available for the comment though the DPI (Schools), Mr D.S. Mangat, said while they had received no complaint of this nature, they would look into it, if approached.



PUDA cancels plot for kala kendra
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 7
The Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) here has cancelled the allotment of land to the Sarghi Kala Kendra for the construction of a cultural centre in Mohali.

This decision comes in the wake of earlier decisions taken by the review committee formed by the Congress government to re-check the decisions taken in PUDA under the Chairmanship of the former Minister for Housing and Urban Planning, Ms Upinderjit Kaur, just before going out of power.

While PUDA has stated that the allotment is being cancelled on the grounds of financial incapability and lack of adequate cultural track record, the kendra president alleged that the cancellation had been done on flimsy grounds and with a bias against allotments made by the previous government.

According to a letter issued by the Chief Administrator to the kendra in September this year, the project of the cultural centre proposed by PUDA is likely to cost Rs 156.57 lakh, but the resources of the “kendra are not sufficient to undertake the project.” The committee also observed that PUDA was going to develop a city park in Sector 68 and the amphitheatre proposed there could be used for such activities. In view of the inadequate resources and the lack of a sound track record of the kendra, the cancellation of the letter of intent to the kendra was recommended, according to the scrutiny committee minutes.

The kendra president, Mr Sanjivan Singh, however, pointed out that the reasons given by the committee were flimsy. "Just because PUDA has now built its own amphitheatre does not mean that someone else cannot build one in Mohali. By their logic, if there are government schools in a place, then there should not be any private schools there. When the land was proposed to be allotted to us in 2001, did PUDA not see our track record then? Was our financial condition not good at that time?" he questioned.

However, sources in PUDA said that other than the Sargi Kala Kendra, a large number of other similar allotments okayed during at the last meeting of the Finance and Accounts Committee of PUDA held under the Chairmanship for the former minister had also been cancelled. A review committee was constituted in March last year under the chairmanship of Mr D.S. Kalha to reconsider all the decisions taken. The committee had also recommended the review of the intended allotment of the 2 kanals of land in Sector 66 for the construction of a cultural centre and art theatre.

Following this, a scrutiny committee was formed to go through the records given by the kendra and personal hearing was also undertaken.

"We have presented the true picture before PUDA and are capable of constructing the centre. But we fail to understand why our allotment has been cancelled," said Mr Sanjivan Singh. "In the cancellation order the CA had also referred that we will be paid back the amount that we deposited with PUDA. However, over two months have passed since the orders and not a single penny has been refunded to us," he added. "We have asked PUDA to review its decision to cancel the allotment. In case they go ahead with the cancellation, then they are liable to pay our deposit along with the interest due," he said.



No power cuts this winter
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 7
City residents can heave a sigh of relief as the oncoming winter will not mean more power cuts. The electricity wing is planning to commission two major transformers in the next two weeks to reduce the load on the existing system. Another transformer will be put on the network by the end of this month.

Each of the transformers are the huge 12.5 MVA ones. Already 30 such transformers are installed in the city. The new setup will cost about Rs 3 crore and will be ready by the time the Electricity Department faces peak winter load in January.

At the first instance two transformers in Sectors 52 and 39 will be ready. Another one in Sector 12 will be ready by the month-end or early next month. Sources in the power sector said in January the peak load was 191 MW and next year it was not expected to cross the existing sanctioned load of 206 MW. Even if it did the Government India had allowed overdrawing to the extent by paying the tariff for unscheduled drawal from the grid. In case the power demand went up, the Administration would approach the Northern Region Electricity Board (NREB).

Three years ago, the power demand had shot up much ahead of the sanctioned load. The Administration had to impose rotational power cuts by which small pre-determined areas were to be shut off for 30 minutes once daily. Since then, things had changed and the allocation of power to the city had been set at 206 MW for a day. The winter peak load had also risen from 152 MW two years ago to 191 MW this January.



MC’s privatisation bid fails to take off
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 7
Has the privatisation of works by the municipal council led to more problems than improving the aspects of the city? The answer could be in the affirmative, considering the poor state of sanitation, increasing stray cattle and poor maintenance of streetlights.

Piles of garbage can be seen everywhere in the township. Streetlights, especially in the interior roads, are defunct, or once switched on are not switched off for days. Stray cattle and dogs seem to have completely taken over the township. Ever since the MC has privatised the sanitation services and the catching of stray cattle on the assurance of providing better services, the situation has only worsened. In fact, the district administration, too, has been constantly pulling up the council for the poor sanitation and stray cattle menace.

Recently, after a Sector 4 resident, Mr Manmohan Munjal was killed in an accident, involving stray cattle, the Deputy Commissioner had asked the MC to pull up its socks. Regarding the sanitation, the council President, Ms Seema Chaudhary, had herself expressed her displeasure with the contractors, who have been allotted sanitation contracts by dividing the town into four zones. She had formed a special force of safai karamcharis, and kept them at her disposal, so that they could be sent to spots from where complaints of insanitary conditions are received.

When the MC was formed in January 2001, HUDA had originally sanctioned 549 posts for the council, but the state Finance Department approved only 104 posts, with 47 posts of firemen alone. The rest of the sanctioned posts were office staff — tax collectors, computer operators and clerks.

With an annual income of a mere Rs 9. 25 crore (Rs 3.5 crore from house tax and fire tax, Rs 15 lakh from professional tax, Rs 2 crore from stamp duty, Rs 3 crore from HUDA as 75 per cent share of extension fee and Rs 60 lakh cess from the Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam, it was decided to give all services on contract.

As soon as sanitation and maintenance of streetlights were transferred to MC in October last year, these were contracted out by inviting open tenders. The job of catching stray cattle and letting these off outside the MC limits had been privatised by the MC earlier as before the MC was formed, there was no provision of dealing with stray cattle. Other than these three services, MC has already privatised the lifting of congress grass and malba, maintenance of public parks, roads, and contracting services of security men to be employed to keep a check on government land reclaimed from encroachers etc.

Says the MC President, Ms Seema Chaudhary, “Privatisation has reduced the financial burden of the council and the private contractors are more accountable. Whenever any aberration in the work of a contractor is found, we impose fines on him”.

But this reportedly has not helped in improving things and the MC is now exploring other alternatives for carrying out the works, keeping in mind the constraints of staff and finances.



NIFD students graduate with a bang
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 7
A dazzling cultural programme marked the annual award ceremony of the National Institute of Fashion Design at Kala Gram here this evening. A stage done up with commendable lighting and matched by an equally impressive music system provided the perfect setting for the fashion extravaganza. It was the D-Day for students who bagged the nominations and awards for their creativity in concept and execution of various activities at the institute.

The dance sequences, using Bollywood screen idols as model concepts, were an impressive show. The “super hit” dance sequences based on items of Aishwarya Rai, Sushmita Sen, Madhuri Dixit, Kareena Kapoor, Urmila Matondkar and Raveena Tandon, to name a few, served as a suitable backdrop for the performances. “Ek, do, teen,” a famous Madhuri Dixit number from “Tezaab”, was well executed. One presentation that deserves a special mention is one in honour of the famous cine star Rekha. Glamour and glitz was also reflected in the overall presentation concept. The faces of students nominated for awards in various categories could be seen on a screen. “The show had style,” was the general refrain. Even the award ceremony borrowed the concept from film award functions. Every time the names of those nominated in a particular category were announced, it accompanied with a picture of the nominee being flashed on the screen. The name of the winner was accompanied by a bigger picture projected on the full screen.

The awards
Student of year (fashion design) — Gurpreet Kaur; student of the year (textile design) — Sakshi Acharya; and student of the year (interior design) — Saravjeet S. Gohania. CR of the year (fashion design) — Harpreet Kaur; CR of the year (textile design) — Sapan Bisht; and CR of the year (interior design) — Shivani Dham. Best prefect — Sandeep Mahajan; NIFD Sa Re Ga Ma — Puneet Sahota; and NIFD VJ hunt — Narender Sharma and Sonia Babu. NIFD Boogie Woogie — Lovlina Bhatia and Shanjeet Babu; best house show — Armani House; and all-rounder house of the year — Versace House.

Best saree design — Sakshi Acharya; most creative home furnishing — Sakshi Acharya; best printed article — Sapna Verma; and best visual display for home furnishing — Shruti Sharma. Best innovative article — Gitica Rana and Sheenu Jain; best yarn craft product — Aparna Malhotra; and best coordinator — Rekha Soni.

Best article in dyeing — Honey Chitkara; best article in creative dyeing — Gagandeep Saini and Anand Kaul; best internship project — Shruti Sharma; outstanding student of the year — Sapna Bisht and Sheenu Jain. Best concept — Suchi Agarwal, Payal Kapoor, Saurav Aneja, Maneesha Kohli and Arvind Gosain. Most innovative design — Sandeep Mahajan, Shapali Goyal, Amarpreet Singh and Kanchan Aneja.

The award for the most appreciated space was bagged by the team of Sandeep Mahajan, Shapali Goyal, Amarpreet Singh and Kanchan Aneja.

The NIFD also awarded its faculty members for excellence in different spheres. Pallavi Loomba won the most popular faculty member award, Deeksha Suri was awarded the NIFD style icon faculty, Vijay Kumar was honoured for his excellence as an all-rounder faculty member while Chanda Malhotra was recognised as the faculty member of the year.

Various creations displaying the proficiency of students in creating new designs in various arenas of the fashion world were also awarded.



News Analysis
Why teachers take to streets
by P.P.S. Gill

Chandigarh, December 7
When college teachers strike work, surely something is wrong somewhere.

A large number of teachers held a demonstration at Patiala on Friday under the flag of Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers’ Union (PCCTU). Some office-bearers were rounded up, allegedly dealt with rudely by the police and later let off. This is not the first time that these teachers had demonstrated. Teachers have from time to time gone on strike and held demonstrations in Punjab and Chandigarh.

PCCTU activists recall that the roots of their grievances are in the 95 per cent grant-in-aid scheme, introduced by the Akali Government in 1977-78. Under that scheme, the 140-odd private colleges, now there are 175, were entitled to government money to overcome their financial crisis. Under the scheme, managing committees are enabled to make payment of salary, contributory provident fund, allowances etc. to 3,200-odd teaching and non-teaching staff. Though, the scheme has an in-built provision of review every five years, it was seldom done. The last review was done in 1981. Since then 35 new colleges have opened. An additional 1,200 posts have also been created, mostly due to political pressures. These colleges and posts continue to remain uncovered under the scheme.

PCCTU activist Charanjit Chawla says it is time for a fresh review. The teaching and non-teaching staff outside the orbit of the scheme occasionally forced the private colleges to raise fees and funds for meeting the salary and gratuity commitments.

Private colleges have a student strength of over two lakh, while 55-odd government colleges in Punjab and Chandigarh have about 50,000 students. Despite this, the government provided just Rs 57 crore to 140 private colleges and Rs 82 crore to government colleges. The grant to private colleges was Rs 72 crore in 2001-02. Punjab then imposed a 10 per cent cut on the grant. Though, the state has restored the cut, it is yet to be implemented.

Another grievance is the issue of pension. This was resolved during the Beant Government. While a formal notification was issued only on December 18, 1996, it was gazetted on April 26, 1999, when Mr Parkash Singh Badal was the Chief Minister.

That gazette notification was undone by Capt. Amarinder Singh in July, 2002. The rules were changed. It was rejected in the modified form, by all private colleges.

Another grievance is that the deduction of the contributory provident fund (CPF) should be on the total salary and not on the basic pay. Neither the Punjab Government nor the Chandigarh Administration is implementing this in respect of the teaching and non-teaching staff of private colleges.

The PCCTU says as teachers’ grievances are intertwined with the collection of fees and funds from students, an early resolution in totality is imperative.



Cops gheraoed over women in custody
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 7
The Mauli Jagran police post was today gheraoed by a mob protesting against alleged ill-treatment meted out to three women whom the police had arrested for allegedly trespassing into their tenant’s house, hurting him and indulging in rioting.

The agitation was sparked off after police post personnel allegedly beat up Ms Kamlesh, whose tenant was Nirmal Singh.

According to the police, Ms Kamlesh and seven or eight others including three women entered the rented tenement of Nirmal Singh and forcibly evicted him after bashing him up.

Ms Kamlesh alleged that the police had misbehaved with her and two other women. She also alleged that her tenant had neither been paying rent nor vacating her house. Nirmal Singh had political connection and the police was acting at their behest, she added.

DSP S.C. Abrol talked to the two parties and denied that the police had misbehaved with the women arrested for rioting, trespassing and injuring their tenant. He said the allegation was merely a pressure tactic to get the women released from the police.

The gherao was lifted after Mr Abrol reached the spot and assured a fair treatment. After hours of discussion, the police decided to book Ms Kamlesh Rani, Asha and Sunita.



Need for voluntary organ donors: doctor
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 7
The country faces an acute shortage of donors for organ transplantation in the country, particularly in case of renal problems. Against an estimated demand of renal transplantation by 10,000 patients at the end stage of renal failure in the country, only 5,000 were able to get kidney transplantation. This was stated by Dr Sada Nand Mehta, Head of Surgical Department at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, while talking to The Tribune here today. Dr Mehta was in the city in connection with a lecture organised by the Government Medical College (Patiala) Alumni Association at the Chandigarh Club.

Dr Mehta said the scams concerning kidney transplantation had rocked the country in the recent past. One positive development was that it had increased public awareness on the subject. Before 1994, transplantation was an alien subject in the country. Following a formal legislation by the Parliament, transplantation was possible now. The public needed to be made aware of the problem. There was an urgent need for voluntary donors. Surprisingly there were only one per cent donations by cadaver people (medically dead). There was need to make public more aware so that those in need of transplant could be helped.

“Results of solid organs transplantation have improved remarkably. The public expectations and demand for organ transplantation is, therefore, rising. There is an acute shortage of organs. Out of the total 99 per cent are living donors and only one per cent are cadaver donor. In case of heart transplants and liver transplants shortage is even more acute because of non-availability of cadaver donors”.

Dr Mehta said there was some ray of hope recently. Certain families have offered organs of the brain dead relatives for transplantation. “On January 25 this year, 10 patients received transplants in a period of 24 hours. My team performed a record four operations of kidney transplants”, he said.

In case organs of the dead could be received it would be a big service to humanity.

He said that an Organ Retrieval and Banking Organisation had been set-up at the AIIMS.



Welcome visits

VISITS by the President Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam are welcome as the academic-minded city cherishes what he has to say. Last week he came for the third time in about four months.

Newspaper cameramen are also now getting used to clicking the celebrity President in his various moods. One thing which is good about his visit is that the Army people get their due in protocol. Since the blue book — a set laid down procedure of protocol — is to be followed when the President visits, it feels good to see the GoC-in-C Lt-Gen S.S. Mehta, in his smart olive greens, standing ahead of bureaucrats to receive the supreme commander of the armed forces.

An interesting facet has emerged during these visits. The Governor of Haryana, Babu Parmanand, stands ahead of the Punjab Governor, Justice O.P. Verma (retd). An aide said the senior of the two stands ahead to receive the President. In this case Babu Parmanand is senior in terms of number of years put in as Governor. However, for the Chief Ministers of two states the seniority is defined. The Punjab CM will always stand ahead of the Haryana CM, irrespective of the seniority by number of years as CM.

Cattle class

Deaths due to cattle in Chandigarh and surrounding areas of Mohali and Panchkula have made parents of youngsters panicky. A colleague who has a young daughter driving a scooter to college was giving instructions to her to slow down when you see a cow. If a bull charges at you leave the scooter and run for your life. Also identify areas where cows are in large numbers.

A city resident puts it very candidly. There can be no decision on stray cattle as the children of officers and politicians travel by official cars and do not have to negotiate through stray cattle. It is the middle class people who travel by two-wheelers. Had some officer’s child been injured due to stray cattle there would have been immediate action.

Back from “leave”

With elections in the neighbouring Rajasthan over, it will be back to business in most government offices of Haryana. Since the ruling Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) was contesting the elections in the neighbouring state, even the bureaucrats were away, campaigning with their political bosses. Anybody in the bureaucratic circle who had a Rajasthan connection was roped in for the party’s campaigning.

However, repeated calls to these offices would yield a terse reply “officer is on leave and away to his home town”.

But with elections over, the officers are back in their offices and it is business as usual.

Back in business

With the Enforcement Staff of Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) losing steam, the fruit sellers are back in business around the Sector 7/8/17/18 roundabout in Panchkula. The place has once again become a traffic bottleneck, with over 50 rehris of fruit sellers lined all around the rotary on any given day.

The estate office had earlier deployed two members of its enforcement staff at the rotary to ensure that the encroachment was removed. However, deterrence remained only till the time that the enforcement staff did their duty — from 10 am to 5 pm. As soon as the staff would leave the spot, the rehriwallahs would emerge from nowhere and park themselves around the roundabout.

Now, with the enforcement staff no longer being posted at the rotary, it is a free-for-all fruit market all through the day, and till 10 in the night. With the commuters, too, parking their vehicles near these rehris to strike the best bargains, many road accidents take place.

Hazardous products

The Chandigarh chapter of the Azadi Bachao Andolan, a social organisation, has taken upon itself the cause of making people aware about the environmental and health hazard posed by the products being sold in the Indian markets by the multinationals.

To begin with, the members of the organisation have launched a signature campaign against the soft drinks. Once complete, the documents of the campaign would be sent to the Chairman of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the cold drinks, said Mr V.C. Nanda, an active member of the organisation.

Next on the target of the organisation was manifold increase in the prices of the life-saving medicines, forcing the Centre to enforce EU norms in respect of food and medicines.

Boom in share market

The current boom in the share market has once again brought retail investors to the capital market. A large number of people have begun to buy shares expecting rich dividends within a short period. The other day two government employees in Sector 17 were heard talking, “I know about LPG but what is that Indraprastha Gas,” referring to the recent public issue of the Indraprastha Gas. His colleague said, “I do not know but I feel its share will open at Rs 60 or Rs 65. So buy as many shares as possible.”

The brokers say that people should invest only after careful study of the fundamentals of the company and other factors.

Brewing trouble

Capt Amarinder Singh may pat himself for sending Badals behind bar, but the people even in his own hometown are awaiting the process of development to start. Among others, Mr Harvinder Singh, Sarpanch of Jalalpur village near Dera Bassi, is running from pillar to post these days. He says, “The government has not done any development work in our area. I had donated my personal two bighas of land to the government about two years ago to install a public tubewell. Though lakhs of rupees have been paid by the state government to the private contractor to bore the tubewell, but no power connection has been given till today.”

He wondered whether the CM would learn any lesson from the defeat of his counterparts in three states. He said people in his village were making fun of him for donating the land to a “bankrupt” government.

Blind “challans”

See that you sport a helmet while driving your car lest you should be “challaned” for this serious “traffic offence”. And, of course, a note of caution for two-wheeler owners too. Don’t get funky if one fine morning you receive a copy of a challan for driving your scooter with “tinted” glasses, an offence punishable under the traffic rules!

The Chandigarh Traffic Police recently “challaned” a car owner for not sporting a helmet while on the road. The owner, Mr Sukhbir Singh, a Sikh gentleman, got the shock of his life when a copy of challan (Book No. 1140 Page No.10) charging him on two counts of offence: “Both w/o helmet” and “Did not stop police signal”, was handed down to him by the postman. The “offence” is reported to have been committed at “Turbun (sic) Chowk to 47 at 9.30 am”. Three cheers for Chandigarh Traffic Police for going overboard!

— Sentinel



Officials impeding MC working, says Mayor
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 7
With the Mayor’s one-year term nearing end, Chandigarh Tribune caught up with Mr Subhash Chawla on Sunday to find out how successful he had been in fulfilling the promises he had made in his maiden speech. Procedural delays, lack of transparency and officialdom have come as hurdles in the way to fulfilling the promises, he admits.

Blaming the short tenure, a major part of which was spent in understanding the pressures and functioning of the corporation, Mr Chawla claims he inched towards success in convincing the officials in corporation to fall in line. The residents of the city have started to accept the existence of the corporation and look upon it as a means to end their grievances.

In an hour-long interview, Mr Chawla gave an insight into various issues impeding the smooth working of the corporation and treatment meted out to elected councillors by bureaucrats and technocrats.

The Mayor said: “Even after six years of the corporation having elected councillors, the bureaucracy has not yet accepted their existence. The elected representatives are kept out of the planning and implementation process by officials in the Chandigarh Administration.”

The elected councillors are equally to be blamed for not being aware of their rights under the Municipal Act. “The councillors allowed passing of a resolution to adopt the PWD manual, which gives sweeping powers to the Commissioner and the Chief Engineer to spend under the non-plan expenditure. I will try to bring an agenda to have MC’s own manual for carrying out development works at the last meeting of the General House.” There are times when elected councillors are made to wait for hours outside the office of officials who know that they can do nothing.

He said he was against a five-year term for the Mayor. Two years on rotational basis should be enough. There was confusion about delegation of powers of the commissioner, chief engineer and Mayor. He admits that all mayors, including himself, were not able to bring a resolution defining powers due to certain limitations.

The Municipal Act defines that the General House has to delegate powers. Every agenda in the plan budget is brought before the committee, but that is not true about the non-plan expenditure. “I tried to bring the resolution but it was opposed by officials as the PWD manual came in the way,” added the Mayor. There should be complete transparency.

He believes that there should be a training programme for every mayor and councillor regarding their powers and understanding of the Act.

The precedent of officials not listening to elected representatives could be checked by the Mayor by empowering him write to the ACR of officials up to the rank of Chief Engineer, he said adding that there should be some mechanism to liaison between the corporation and the officials in the administration. No direction from the administration comes through the Mayor. Officials directly get directions from the administration. Examples like anti-encroachment and demolition drives point in this direction,” said Mr Chawla.

He suggested to form a regulatory body, headed by a judicial official, which could study various financial issues, to prevent situation like in the case of property tax. The issues that could not be decided due to political compulsions could also be referred to the commission.

On the sanitation front, he admitted that his dream to make the city a clean place could not be fully accomplished due to opposition by his party councillor and the opposition.



Battle for Mayor’s post down to Kamlesh, Vaid
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 7
As the term of the second Mayor in the Congress-ruled corporation ends on December 31, the fight for the coveted post now seems to be between two strong contenders, Ms Kamlesh and Mr Sohan Lal Vaid. Mr Balraj Singh, a former Deputy Mayor, may not be a hot contender because of an alleged embezzlement case involving his wife.

The post of the third Mayor under Congress rule is reserved for a Scheduled Caste (SC) candidate. There are four SC candidates, Mrs Geeta Chaudhary, Deputy Mayor, Ms Kamlesh, who is councillor for the second term, Mr Balraj Singh and Mr Sohan Lal Vaid.

Hectic lobbying behind the scenes has been on for the past few weeks - a fact denied by senior party leaders. Sources in the party say the top leadership favours Ms Kamlesh, who is an AICC member and an active Congress worker for the past several years.

On the other hand, Mr Vaid, a former camp member of a former Union Minister, Mr Harmohan Dhawan - who has reportedly the backing of a powerful section of councillors in the House - can also not be ignored by the party high command. It being an election year, the party leaders may opt for a non-controversial candidate who can deliver, keep a liaison with officers in the corporation and build a positive public image. “Keeping in mind the above parameters, it is not difficult to imagine who can fit into the role,” said a senior party leader.

The awkward position faced by AICC general secretary Ambika Soni after the Congress debacle in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh may not undermine the position of the dominating faction of the party led by MP Pawan Bansal and party president B.B. Behl, sources say.

Despite a specific query on the criteria that would govern the candidature for Mayor, Mr Pawan Bansal and Mr Behl did not reveal their mind. They said it was premature to comment on the issue. “We will hold a meeting next week,” said Mr Behl. The leaders said 14 Congress councillors, including the MP, would decide on the candidate.

The corporation has five Mayors in a five-year cycle, the tenure of each being one year. The first tenure in the five-year term is reserved for a woman candidate, second for a general candidate, third for an SC candidate and the fifth again for a general candidate. The first Congress Mayor was Ms Lalit Joshi, followed by Subhash Chawla.



Visually impaired seek job quota
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 7
A cultural programme was presented by members of the Blinds Association, Chandigarh, at Punjab Kala Bhavan, Sector 16, here yesterday.

Visually impaired submitted a demand charter to Mr Sat Pal Jain, a former MP, who was the chief guest at the function. They urged Mr Jain to take up the issue of 1 per cent reservation for them in all government posts and also to fill the backlog with the UT Administration. The association also demanded that the quota seats on which visually impaired cannot be appointed, should be shifted to other seats suitable for them.

The association also complained that B.Ed colleges affiliated to Panjab University do not mention the 1 per cent quota reserved for visually impaired in their respective prospectus and urged the Administration to issue instructions in the matter. It has also been demanded that all visually impaired students in city colleges, irrespective of their domicile, should be given scholarships. It was also demanded that the they should be given an additional one-hour time in examinations being conducted by Panjab University and various institutes.

Association members complained that they were not getting sufficient audio cassettes, recorders and Brail books.

Mr Jain, speaking on the occasion, said the legal cell of the BJP would provide free legal help to any visually impaired person if required.



Tribune employee bereaved
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 7
Mrs Bhagwan Devi (70), mother of Mr Joginder Khetarpal, Executive, Circulation Department, The Tribune, died here yesterday.

Her kirya will take place from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Laxmi Narayan Mandir, Sector 20-C, Chandigarh, on December 18.



Help sought for body identification

Mohali, December 7
The SHO Phase I police station, Mr Bhupinder Singh, has appealed to the general public for help in identifying a body found from Industrial area, Phase VIII here on November 28. According to a press note issued by the SHO, the man was found murdered in the bushes. Post-mortem revealed that the number 786 was etched on his hand. One can contact the police at phone numbers 2225810, 2266350 and 2266351. — TNS



Panchkula bus service poor

THE bus service in Panchkula is not only inadequate but also costly on almost all routes. The fare from Sector 15-16 bus stop to the Shakti Bhavan roundabout a distance of 3 km and the Chandigarh bus stand (10 km distance) is Rs 4 and Rs 11, respectively. It is more than a rupee per km which is almost two-three times higher than the fare of a long route bus. The local bus service should be operated on a no-profit no-loss basis.

The bus service is poor in a town that is spread in a radius of about 50 sq km. One cannot reach one sector to another by boarding a single bus. Even important points like the General Hospital, the district court and college have not been linked with bus service.

The route no of the bus should be displayed on the entry door and the rear-end with a provision for light to make its visible during night. Timetable, duly updated, should be displayed at all bus stops and the facility of holiday pass system should be extended up to Chandigarh. The frequency of the bus service should be increased to avoid overcrowding.

Mukesh Gupta, Manju Gupta, Panchkula

Exploitation in the name of fee

Charging of fee under any category by government and private institutions or companies from candidates applying against a vacant post has become a practice that is illogical and unjustified. Unemployed youth cannot afford to pay the fee and many a time they can’t apply owing to financial paucity.

The Haryana Urban Development Authority is also not behind in the race as it keeps the earnest money which is generally in lakhs for a long period without paying the interest to those who apply for residential plots. It seems the agencies have adopted easy devices for increasing their revenue at the cost of helpless people who are being exploited.

The court(s) must come forward to the rescue of the common man in this regard.

Dhiraj Garg, Yashu Gupta Panchkula

Death penalty for paedophiles must

Apropos the editorial published in the Chandigarh Tribune dated November 21, 2003, “Deterrent against rape”, I agree with Wg Cdr Gurmail Singh that the culprits should be given strong punishment. Such persons don’t even spare children who are the future of our country. It is disgusting to note that more than 2.5 million cases of child abuse are reported every year. Children are more vulnerable as they are taught to obey elders, follow them and be respectful to everyone, making them easy victims not only sexually but also emotionally.

Researches have proved that a majority of children who are abused display antisocial behaviour, anxiety disorders, delinquent behaviour, truancy and scores of other psychiatric and physical problems. Pedophiles commit a more heinous crime than rape as they play with the emotions and innocence of little children. They deserve death sentence and even castration and their families should be ostracised. They should be awarded death sentence in front of the community and it should be telecast live on all channels so that nobody dare to repeat such actions.

It is shameful that we have thousands of children and women who are abused everyday but nothing has been done so far. How can we say that India is truly democratic? What has the government done till date to tackle the menace of rape and child abuse?

Sex education should be made compulsory in schools and health records should be maintained in schools. Every school should have a counsellor and a psychologist to look into such problems. Children should be made aware of such happenings.

Radha Saini, Patiala



1 killed, 5 hurt in road accidents
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 7
An unidentified rickshaw-puller was killed and five persons, including three women, were injured in different accidents here yesterday. A resident of Sector 34, Ms Balwinder Kaur, sustained injuries and was taken to the Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, when the rickshaw in which she was travelling, was hit by a car in Sector 34 yesterday. The rickshaw-puller (unidentified), who was seriously injured in the accident, was first taken to the GMCH and was then shifted to the PGI where he died today.

In a similar accident, Ms Saroj Kumari and Ms Shanti Kumari, both residents of Colony No 5, were injured after the rickshaw they were travelling in, was hit by an unidentified vehicle near Burail Jail yesterday. Both were admitted to the GMCH, where their condition was said to be stable. The rickshaw-puller escaped unhurt. An unidentified person, was admitted to the PGI, in an unconscious state, after the scooter he was riding was met an accident with an unidentified vehicle in Sector 26 yesterday. His condition was said to be stable. A resident of Mani Majra, Shivam, was admitted to a hospital with his leg fractured, allegedly after being hit by a car near the Old Police Station, Mani Majra yesterday. The car driver sped away from the spot.


Mr Rajneesh Punj, a resident of Sector 47, reported that his car was stolen, from his house yesterday. A case has been registered at the Sector 31 police station. Mr Harish Kumar Chhabra of Sector 22 reported that someone has stolen stereo from his car (parked at a Sector 20-D market) yesterday.



One injured in truck, Qualis collision
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, December 7
The driver of a Tata Qualis sustained serious injuries when his vehicle collided head-on with a truck loaded with empty glass bottles on the ‘‘killer’’ Kalka-Ambala National Highway 22 in Singhpura village near here last night.

Some vendors, selling kinnows nearby had a narrow escape as the Qualis overturned after the collision. The driver has been identified as Rajesh Kumar of Burail village in Sector 45, Chandigarh.

He was on his way to Delhi when his vehicle collided with the truck coming from the opposite direction.

The collision was of such high impact that the front wheels of the truck got detached and rear wheels were also damaged.

Trapped inside the mangled remains of the vehicle, Rajesh Kumar was extricated by the passers-by and was taken to the Government Medical College and Hospital in Sector 32, Chandigarh. He was later shifted to the PGI where his condition is said to be serious.

Vehicular traffic was also disrupted for hours following the accident, putting the passengers to a great inconvenience.

A case has been registered at Lohgarh police post in this regard.

Earlier on December 1, two car occupants were also injured in a head-on collision with an Army truck in front of Silver City, a Housing Colony, here.



Zirakpur house burgled
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, December 7
Burglars struck at a house in a densely populated locality of Preet Nagar Colony here late last night and decamped with cash besides gold and silver jewellery, including some rings studded with precious stones, and other valuables reportedly worth lakhs of rupees.

The burglars broke into the house of Mrs Raj Rani when she along with her three daughters and father, Mr Avtar Singh, had gone to attend the ring ceremony of one of her relatives in Chandigarh on Saturday night.

The bare-footed burglars reached the first floor of the house after scaling a common wall adjacent to partially constructed house. After searching two rooms at the first floor, they took a wire-cutter and a screw driver and then went down the staircase to the courtyard.

The bolt of the main door was broken with an iron chisel, they also broke open two steel almirahs, cupboards and table drawers besides ransacking the house.

Talking to the Chandigarh Tribune, Mrs Raj Rani said she found the main door of the house open when she returned home this morning. “A sum of Rs 60,000 which my father had given to me for safe custody, a gold necklace, three gold ear-rings, two nose pins, a gold-plated wristwatch — belonging to my late husband — and some garments were found missing,” revealed Mrs Raj Rani.

A team of forensic experts was called from Patiala this evening. The police has registered a case.



Valuables worth 80,000 stolen from house
Tribune News Service

In wake of a sudden spate of thefts in the township, the police has appealed to the residents to desist from discussing their travel plans in the presence of outsiders.

Mohali, December 7
Thieves decamped with valuables worth Rs 80,000 from a Phase-IX residence last night. According to the police, the owner of the house was away to Delhi with his family.

Police sources said the owner of house No. 698, Phase IX, Mr Jaswinder Singh Sahni, had left for Delhi on Friday with his family and returned just after midnight on Saturday. He found the locks broken and the house ransacked.

The thieves broke the lockers in steel almirahs and took away Rs 22,000 in cash. A purse of the wife of Mr Sahni and gold jewellery worth Rs 60,000 were also found missing by the couple. A VCD player and music system were also stolen by the thieves.

The whole house, according to the police, was ransacked by the thieves who spent at least two hours in the house taking advantage of the fact that the family was away. Mr Sahni, who deals in building material, has lodged a case with the police.



Securitisation Act may create demand for more CAs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 7
The Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act — 2002, that has been currently stayed by the Supreme Court, will pave the way for the creation of securitisation and asset reconstruction companies besides additional demand for liquidators, receivers, seizing and securitisation agencies, legal experts and industry specialists in affecting recoveries. Once cleared by the SC, it will offer new opportunities to the chartered accountants.

These views were expressed by the accounting experts gathered at the first Chandigarh conference of chartered accountants in the city on the eve of completion of 30th year of the branch. The theme of the conference was “Pragati- laying a foundation for future”.

Speaking on this occasion, Mr Manoj Kohli, Chairman of the Chandigarh branch lamented that due to legal limitations, the banks had failed to recover about Rs 1 lakh crore outstanding amount from the defaulters. It was nothing but a loot of the public money. But the new Act would enable them to recover that money, he added.

Speaking at the technical session on “practice and procedure of taxation and income taxation and income tax tribunal,” Mr Vimal Gandhi, President, Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) felt that the upgradation of the existing ITAT and bringing it under Article 323 B of the Constitution of India would reduce a huge workload from the high courts. Further, the disputes with the Income Tax Department were expected to be resolved within short time.

Among others, Mr P.K. Mehta, Executive Director, Corporation Bank, Mr K.A. Najmi, CGM, IFCI, Mr Yadwinder Singh, Additional Commissioner, Excise and Taxation, Haryana also participated in the discussion.


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