C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


2 Net firm directors held for fraud
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 15
The police today arrested two directors of the Sector 34-based West Internet Solutions Private Limited linked with the Net Khazana multi-level marketing scheme for allegedly defrauding 17,500 persons across the country of Rs 26.5 crore.

Company’s directors Manoj Jain from Hardwar and Ambrish Sharma from Ludhiana have been arrested after they refused to cooperate in the investigation, DSP (Crime) Vijay Pal Singh said at a press conference.

Two other directors — Kulwant Singh Sidhu and Harjinder Kaur from Ludhiana — had escaped the police net.

The DSP said the company was allegedly cheating the people by manipulating its software which gave around 650 points accumulated in five levels of multi-level marketing to fictitious persons to channel the money back to the company and giving an impression that its profits were being shared with its members.

Arrested director of the company Manoj Jain told the media persons that the company was selling an accountancy software and a large part of the Rs 26.5 crore collected had been distributed in commission and settlement of claims after the company was closed in November. Manoj Jain was an engineer and Ambrish and his wife, Harjinder Kaur, were lecturers before they get involved in this “fraudulent” business.

They started the business in February last year. The police appealed to the people to be vigilant against such multi-level marketing companies which sell the dream of making a person millionaire in a short time.

The police said these people had conspired to cheat the people and swindle their money. It registered a case against them under Sections 120 B and 406 of the Indian Penal Code.

Net Khazana came under scrutiny when the DGM of the RBI asked the police to register a case against multi-level marketing companies under Sections 3 and 4 of the Price Chits and Money Circulation Ban Act, 1978.

The police said these persons had opened around 150 branches of the company to enroll members and around 4000 members from Madhya Pradesh, 1000 from Karnataka and 500 from Andhra Pradesh, among others, had been enrolled. The directors of the company had collected hefty amount between Rs 3 and 5 lakh from those who used to run the state branches of the company. The DSP termed these companies as “multi-level loot” companies.

Mr Vijay Pal Singh said the money once collected in the bank accounts of these companies was withdrawn for paying an unusually high legal fee and Diwali bonus. He said bank accounts of the companies now show no deposits and even assets of the company were not noticeable.

He said the modus operandi of such companies was to keep shifting places and changing names and opening as many branches as possible to start collection from new places through “dream selling.”

The four directors of the company had earlier become members of Amway and Fastbuck companies to open a similar lense of their own.

He said the company was charging Rs 16,500 from each member and promising them a salary of between Rs 5000 and 10,000 per month.

Mr Pal said as per a fair procedure, the company was to be given only one point instead of 650 points that should have been given to around 2600 people. He alleged that the directors of the company were trying to either win over witnesses in the case or browbeat them.


Rain brings down temperature
Tribune News Service

* Chaos on city roads.
* Morning shows in various cinema halls attract little crowd.
* Maximum temperature recorded at 17.6°C and minimum at 13.0°C

Chandigarh, December 15
After a steady increase in the day temperature in the city over the past fortnight, snowfall in the upper reaches of Himachal Pradesh, resulted in the day temperature plummeting as cold winds swept the city. The city recorded 10 mm of rainfall today, the highest recorded by the Meteorological Department this winter.

Normal life in the city was affected by chilly winds following widespread rain, forcing the residents to remain indoors. The meteorological department has forecast rainfall would continue for another day due to swift change in the weather pattern. A clear weather has been forecasted on the weekend.

After enjoying warm days for the past fortnight, the residents were taken by surprise due to the sudden change in the weather. The snowfall in Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, forced the fall in the day temperature as the cold winds from the northern side took over the warm winds. The cloudy sky in the past fortnight had prevented the local temperature from falling, said an officer of the meteorological department. In the coming days, the day temperature was likely to fall further.

Attributing a swift change in weather pattern, Mr S.C. Bhan, Director of the local Meteorological Department, said the development depended upon the wind flow pattern.

In year 2001, a study of the first fortnight in the month of December revealed that the temperature was 4°C above normal. Comparatively, the temperature during the same period in 2002 was normal. This year again, the pattern of the temperature in the last fortnight revealed that it was 5°C degree above normal.

Against 10 mm rainfall recorded this morning, the count of rainfall on last Friday and Saturday was 0.4 mm and 1.8 mm, respectively.

Several people travelling on the roads leading to the city were caught unaware in the heavy showers in the morning. The worst affected were the two wheeler riders.


Petrol, diesel prices hiked
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 15
With the state-owned oil companies announcing at least one-rupee hike in rates of petrol and diesel from midnight tonight across the country, the middle class money saving city residents thronged petrol stations after hearing the news on TV.

Panchkula remains the cheapest place in the vicinity of Chandigarh to get petrol filled where the rates are currently at Rs 31.74 per litre expected to go beyond Rs 32.74 from midnight tonight. In Chandigarh, the rates will increase from the current Rs 32.09 per litre to at least Rs 33.09 per litre. Mohali will remain the costliest with the current rates above Rs 34.84 per litre and expected to go beyond Rs 35.84 per litre.

However, petrol station owners in Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali pointed out that the rates would not be increased by Re 1 across the board as taxes applicable at various places differ. For diesel users, however, the cheapest place to get the tank filled is Mohali, currently at Rs 19.36 per litre. Chandigarh comes next to with Rs 19.45 per litre and expected to go beyond Rs 20.45 per litre. Panchkula is the most expensive for diesel currently at Rs 19.56 per litre and expected to go up to Rs 20.56. 


Votaries of rotation win Syndicate poll
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 15
The group championing the rotation in Syndicate representation formed a near majority in the elections to the Panjab University Syndicate here today.

The group featuring the names of Prof R.D. Anand, Prof Charanjit Chawla, Prof P.P. Arya, Mr Satya Pal Jain and Prof Satya P. Gautam formed the majority in the election results declared today in all the faculties except laws where the results had been withheld. The faction headed by Mr Gopal Krishan Chatrath faced a big defeat which came as a surprise to many on the campus.

In the arts faculty, Mr Dhirender Tayal, Prof M.R. Aggarwal and Principal Jaswant Singh Gill were declared elected. Dr Manoj Kumar, Prof Bhuvan Chandel and Prof Ganesh Dutt Bhardwaj were elected in the science faculty.

The new Syndicate members in the languages faculty are Mr H.S. Gosal and Dr Mukesh Kumar Arora. Prof P.P. Arya, Principal B.D. Budhiraja and Mr Satish Kumar Sharma were chosen in the combined faculty.

Prof Akhtar Mahmood and Dr Gurvinder Kaur Sidhu are new Syndics from the medical science faculty.

The university “reserved” its decision on elections to the law faculty. Mr Ranvir K. Asija led the election by bagging 16 votes. Mr Chatrath and Mr Pawan Valecha were tied at 15 votes each. The university will decide whether a re-election be held for all the three candidates or the two who have tied.

The results indicate that the voters have upheld the voice of the group which advocates rotation. No candidate who holds power in the Syndicate is repeated the next year. “We are following the principal since the 1990s and the results clearly indicate the choice of the voters,” a newly elected Syndic said.

The Chatrath group had repeated four candidates, including Dr Dinesh Gupta, Principal S.C. Marriya, Mr S.S. Hundal and Mr Gopal Krishan Chatrath. The decision on Mr Chatrath's poll is pending and all the rest have lost.

One of the biggest surprises in the elections this year was Mr Ashok Goyal leaving his traditional group. Known for his anti-Chatrath stand in the Senate for the past over a decade, it was surprising to hear his name being declared by the Chatrath group. His loss was not a surprise. Equally expected was the loss of Dr Keshav Malhotra who left his group and contested from the front of Mr Chatrath.

Interestingly, the list of elected Syndics feature the names of at least five nominated members, including Prof Aggarwal, Dr Manoj Kumar, Prof Chandel, Prof Bhardwaj and Prof Mahmud.

Dr Malhotra was elected Dean of Animal Husbandry.


Shrines outnumber schools, colleges and hospitals in the country
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 15
It is official. Religion dominates in the country. To prove it, a look at the latest report on the census operations will be enough. The Directorate of Census Operations of India and Punjab have released primary data in this connection. It has been proved beyond doubt that people prefer to build more religious places than schools, colleges and even hospitals.

In fact, the number of religious places in the country beats to the second place the combined figure of schools, colleges, hospitals and dispensaries. The number of places of worship at present is 23,98,650 whereas the number of schools and colleges is 15,02,353. The number of hospitals and dispensaries is 6,03,897. The number of religious places in rural areas is 19,82,515 and in urban areas 4,16,135. The number of schools and colleges in rural areas is 12,29,122 and in urban areas 2,73,231.

In Punjab, the number of religious places beats the number of schools and colleges. The combined figure of schools and colleges is 29,024 in the state, of which 22,010 are in the rural areas and 7,014 in the urban areas. The number of religious places in the state is 46,493 of which 37,307 are in the rural area and 9,186 in the urban areas.

In the country, out of the total number 1,91,963,935 houses, 73,856,117 houses are one-room tenements and 57,571,341 are two-room sets. Houses with five rooms are only 5,565,687. Compared to it, in Punjab, out of total 4,26,5156 houses, are 10,11,734 are one-room and 13,22,783 two-room sets. There is also a good number of three and four room houses.

Still 18.2 per cent houses in the country are dependent on wells for drinking water whereas 35.7 per cent houses get water supply from hand pumps. Tap water is available to 36.7 per cent houses. But in rural areas, tap water is available to only 24.3 per cent houses and 22.2 per cent are dependent on wells.

In Punjab, tap water is available to 33.6 per cent houses. However, in rural areas it is available only 15.8 per cent houses. In the rural Punjab, 77.6 per cent houses are dependent on hand pumps for drinking water. The role of wells is 0.8 per cent in the state and in urban areas it is only 0.2 per cent.

In the country, as many as 6,14,849 houses have no source of light. Electricity supply is available to 10,72,09,054 houses. About 43.3 houses are dependent on kerosene lamps. However, in Punjab, electricity is available to 39,20,301 houses. But even in Punjab, there are 37,961 houses which have no source of lighting. The number of such houses is 30,208 in the rural areas.

As many as 6,82,30,642 (35.5 per cent) houses utilise banking facilities in the country. As many as 6,74,15,133 (35 per cent) houses have radio and transistor sets and 6,06,49,623 (31.6 per cent) have television facility. But in rural areas only 18.9 per cent houses have television sets. The telephone is available in 1,75,49,991 (9 per cent) houses but in rural areas it is available in 5,21,8884 (3.8 per cent) houses. As many as 8,38,38,450 (43.7 per cent) households have bicycles and 2,24,84,686 (11.7 per cent) houses scooters, motor cycles and Mopeds, whereas 48,01,899 (2.5 per cent) houses have cars, jeeps or vans.

In Punjab, 28,87,050 (76.7 per cent) houses, which is far above the national average, own television sets. As many as 8,07,629 (18.9 per cent) houses have telephone facility and 30,60,716 (71.8 per cent) houses have bicycles. Scooters, motor cycles or Mopeds are with 13,48,872 (31.6 per cent) houses and cars, jeeps and vans are with 2,46,132 (5.8 per cent) houses out of total 42,65,156 houses in the state.


Punjab to restore full share of grants to PU colleges
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 15
Mr Harnam Dass Johar, Minister for Higher Education, Punjab, yesterday assured the Panjab University authorities that the state government would make efforts to restore its full share of grant to the university colleges. This means there will be respite from the 10 per cent cut being exercised in grants to colleges being exercised at the moment.

Responding to the demand for a central university status for Panjab University by a section of Senators, Mr Johar categorically ruled out any chances of the Punjab Government allowing the same. “If allowed the Punjab Government was willing to take full responsibility of Panjab University. If there was a need for a central university the government will allow opening of a new university.”

Mr Johar assured the House that he had already discussed with the Chief Minister the matter of restoring full 95 per cent grant and an action was expected at the earliest. He said he would call university officials to brief him on the issue.

After a long discussion on a pension scheme for university employees, the Senate decided to constitute a committee to work out a viable plan for implementation of the pension scheme which has already been accepted by the Senate. The members include Prof Satya P. Gautam, Prof R.D. Anand and Mr Sanjiv Bandlish.

The university has decided to offer teaching in law courses on the campus in Hindi and Punjabi mediums also. The implementation aspect, however, is not going to be an easy proposition because of non-availability of suitable teachers to handle the teaching in mediums other than English. Meanwhile, the Senate approved five new posts for the department where care could be exercised in recruiting teachers comfortable in Hindi and Punjabi languages.

Dr Harjinder Laltu and Prof Gautam have been elected members of the board of finance. Mr Satish Sharma, Dr S.M. Handa, Dr Tankeshwar Kumar and Dr Usha Gupta have been elected members of the academic council.

The university deferred any decision on the matter pertaining to an inquiry against Dr Rakesh Datta of the Department of Defence Studies. He is alleged to have supplied wrong information to the university regarding his work experience while seeking appointment here.

The university has decided that honours degree will be conferred on those students who secure at least a second decision in their graduation examinations. It has also decided to give a chance of compartment in the honours degree in undergraduate classes.


Successful bidder of SCO site wants to withdraw

Chandigarh, December 15
In a major setback to the UT Administration, a week after the auction of commercial property in the city, Mr Satwinder Singh, who had successfully made a bid for commercial site in Sector 44 for Rs 1.48 crore, today approached the Estate Officer for the withdrawal of his offer, alleging lack of basic amenities.

Mr Satwinder Singh, who hails form Uttar Pradesh, has asked the Estate Officer to refund Rs 14.80 lakh, deposited by him as the 10 per cent of the auction price on December 8.

The allottee claimed that he had made the bid without inspecting the actual conditions existing at the site. After making the bid, when he visited the SCO site in Sector 44, he found basic amenities, such as parking lacking. He alleged that the UT Administration did not have a uniform policy, regarding auction of a site.

Giving details of the problems faced by an allottee, Mr Satwinder Singh said the Administration had issued a notification on June 5, 2002, stating that if a person surrendered the plot within 180 days from the date of allotment, he would be penalised 2.5 per cent of the entire premium of the site. Surprisingly, the notification does not deal with those who surrendered the site within 30 days prior to the issuance of the allotment letter.

Legal luminaries are of the view that the Administration is required to reframe positive public orientation policies. They say that sometimes people make a bid due to jacking up of auction proceedings by property dealers. Moreover, an average middle class and upper middle class investor cannot purchase properties in such an atmosphere and the subsequent surrender of the auctioned properties further led to frivolous litigations.

They said more people, who had purchased the property in the recent auction were likely to surrender in near future as these were not commercially viable prepositions.


Phase 3-A house burgled
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 15
In yet another daring daylight burglary, thieves today decamped with items reportedly worth Rs 50,000 from the Phase 3A residence of a Punjab School Education Board employee. The owner, Mr Surjit Singh Batra, and his wife, Harjeet Kaur, a UT Secretariat employee, were away to work when the incident happened.

The police said their daughter had gone for tuition at 10 am and when she returned home at noon, she heard some noises in the house. When she raised the alarm the thieves scaled the backyard wall of the house on the main road separating Phase 3A and Phase 3B1. The house was ransacked and the backdoor lock broken and cash worth Rs 12000 and 60 grams of gold was allegedly missing.

Mr Manjit Singh Sethi, municipal councillor of the area, alleged that the police had not given a copy of the FIR to the family.


Mohali cops wake up after another burglary
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 15
Despite the Mohali police registering its eighth burglary within a month, precious little has been done to catch culprits. The recent spate of burglaries in the township has led the Mohali police to conclude that there is a gang of thieves operating in the township and it has now decided to step up the vigil here.

The police believes that the gang, which most probably takes shelter in one of the slum colonies on the Chandigarh-Mohali border, is active now. “We have stepped up the vigil in the area and are also trying to find leads to members of the gang,” said Mr Gurcharan Singh, SHO, Phase VIII police station.

The police would also begin a joint drive with the Chandigarh police to comb through the colonies, falling in Chandigarh, added Mr Gurcharan Singh.

He said most of the thefts in the recent past had one thing in common, that the thieves had distinct knowledge that owners were not inside the house. In some cases, the thieves had not even bothered for the night to fall, knowing that the owners had gone out only for a few hours and taken this opportunity to strike.

“For example, in yesterday’s burglary at a Wing Commander’s house, the owner had gone only for a few hours and that is when the thieves struck,” said Mr Gurcharan Singh.

The police has also advised residents of the township, including shop owners, not to discuss their travel plans in public or in front of outsiders. The public has also been asked to keep a vigil on any unknown persons standing idle outside houses. “These people could be keeping a watch on a house to note the coming and going pattern of the family,” said a police official.

November 3: Two unidentified men decamped with goods worth Rs 30,000 from the residence of the Country Club Manager in the Industrial area, Phase VI

November 5: Thieves struck at a Phase 10 residence in broad daylight and decamped with cash and gold worth Rs 2 lakh while the house owner, Mr Sudhir Saxena, was away for a few hours.

November 19: Thieves decamped with goods worth Rs 30,000 from the Phase X residence of the father of DIG Iqbal Preet Singh Sahota, while the family was out for three days.

November 25: Thieves struck at HE 190, Phase I, in broad daylight.

December 1: Clothes worth Rs 3 lakh were stolen from a shop in Phase 3 B2.

December 7: Thieves decamped with goods worth Rs 80,000 from a Phase IX residence when the owner of the house, Mr Jaswinder Singh Sahni, was away for a day.

December 14: In another daring daylight burglary, thieves decamped with items worth Rs 1 lakh from the Phase VII residence of Wing Commander Onkar Singh Sodhi (retd), running a security agency.


Lake Club ex-GM Beri booked for fraud
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 15
Former Lake Club General Manager Lt-Col Madhukar Beri (retd) has been booked by the police for allegedly issuing fake cash receipts for making members of the swimming pool of the club.

A case has been registered in the police station (North) on the complaint of the Additional Deputy Commissioner Inderjeet Singh Sandhu.

Mr Sandhu alleged that the former manager of the club had issued cash receipts of Rs 51,100 for giving membership of the swimming pool of the club.

No arrest has been made. The police is investigating the matter.


City becoming a drug transit point?
Sanjay Sharma
Tribune News Service

1.2 kg more charas seized

Chandigarh, December 15
The police today seized 1.2 kg of more charas, worth Rs 1.2 crore in the international market, from House 2222 in Sector 21 on basis of disclosures made by the persons who were arrested yesterday.

Dawood link

The drug peddlers arrested yesterday are suspected to have earlier supplied around one kg of high-quality opium to family members of Karachi-based underworld don Dawood Ibrahim.

This is believed to have been revealed by the arrested persons to the Chandigarh police during the investigation.

When contacted, SP (Operations) H.G.S. Dhaliwal said investigating was on and the statements of the arrested persons had to be corroborated.

Chandigarh, December 15
The seizure of contraband worth Rs 50 crore here yesterday and culprits’ suspected links with the underworld and international drug syndicate have raised alarm as to if the city and its surrounding areas were becoming a drug-transit point.

It is probably the largest haul of contraband in the city. The seizure indicates that probably the drug mafia was trying to make Chandigarh a centre for the transit of major contraband supplies.

Sources say the city can be one of the safest places for the transit of drugs as the local police is said to have poor intelligence sharing with other states and national intelligence agencies.

There had been small seizures of drugs in Chandigarh and Mohali during the past few years. So far it was considered that these supplies were for local consumption, but the recent haul may force many to change their opinion.

Panchkula had seen three major seizures of contrabands worth Rs 3 crore and 2 crore during the past two years. Investigations suggested these were being routed through the area for being supplied at other places.

City’s turning into drug-transit point seems feasible as Kulu and Manali belt of Himachal Pradesh is considered to be growing good quality drugs that have huge demand in the international market. Normally, drugs from Kulu and Manali have to be routed through Chandigarh.

The seizure of large quantities of drugs in the area indicate that drug peddlers are using this route following international community’s tightening screws on Pakistan, one of the major drug supply channels from Afghanistan and Rajasthan.

It has now become clear that the seized drugs were sourced from Rajasthan. It indicates that suppliers in Rajasthan, who were finding it difficult to smuggle contrabands following massing of troops by India and Pakistan along the Border, are looking for different routes.

A team of the Chandigarh Police’s examining links of the arrested drug peddlers with an international drug syndicate. According to sources, the arrested persons have been claiming that it was their first consignment. The police, however, suspects their claim saying the first-timers would not have enough experience to push so much of drugs into the international market.

The police is verifying their criminal antecedents. A team is being sent to the Canadian Embassy to find out if the accused had any criminal record. Hints emerging from the interrogation suggest that an international drug syndicate was involved in the supply. However, it is yet to be confirmed.


Roads become death traps
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 15
The two main roads to Mohali from the Kharar-Chandigarh road are fast turning into death traps.

In a period of less than six months, four persons have died and seven seriously injured in two major accidents that have taken place on these roads.

Other than these, a large number of minor accidents have also occurred of which even the police has lost count.

These roads have industrial area on both sides. Trucks, tempos, tractor-trailers coming from or going to factories generally get involved in accidents on these roads.

“Accidents are a common feature on this stretch”, said a police personnel serving in the Phase 1 police station.

On may 31, a Tata sumo coming from Ludhiana was banged head on by a truck coming from inside the industrial area. Two persons were killed and one become handicapped in the accident. Similarly, in the accident that took place day on December 13, two person were killed when a car coming from inside the industrial area road on to the main road was hit by a bus. Both accidents took place in the night.

“At night, it becomes very dangerous to drive on this road. Vehicle are generally driven at high speeds. The roads leading into the industrial area are not well-lit. As a result, persons coming from inside industrial area are not able to notice vehicles moving on the main road.

On the other hand, persons travelling on the main road especially outsiders, who are just driving through Mohali to reach other destinations have no inkling that there is an industrial area on both sides of the road and heavy traffic is expected from there. Hence the accidents,” said Mr Gurmeet Singh, president of the Mohali Industries Association. 


Mohali MC to enhance ground rent
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 15
The Mohali Municipal Council (MC) will be enhancing ground rent from Rs 2.50 per sq foot to Rs 8 per sq foot. According to sources, this move will be a part of the agenda, to be placed before the House on December 22.

The council earns little amount from ground rent, which has not been revised for the past 10 years. Other than the seasonal ground rent earnings, which the council gets from festival stalls during Divali, the MC also charges ground rent from various rehri markets in the township.

Stating that ground rent will be revised only after the item is passed during the discussions in the House, Executive Officer Harbhagwan Garg said ultimately the figure might come close to Rs 5 per sq foot rather than Rs 8 per sq foot.

The sources also pointed that ground rent being charged by the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) in the township was higher than the MC.


Report on Ranbaxy to come up at MC meeting
Our Correspondent

Mohali, December 15
A panel report, which demanded the shifting of Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd from the residential area of the town, is once again being put up in the House at the Municipal Council meeting to be held next week.

The report was put up for discussion earlier at the council meeting held on September 30 but had been unanimously kept pending by the House as president of the civic body Kulwant Singh had to leave the meeting for some urgent work.

Without making any comments on what will be the outcome of the discussion, Mr Kulwant Singh said here today that the report would be presented before the councillors and the final decision on the matter would be taken by the House.

The proposal, seeking the shifting of Ranbaxy Laboratories from the residential area of the town, after major blasts and fire had rocked Mohali on June 11, had also been kept pending in the council meeting held on June 30. At that time, the management of company had requested the civic body president to send a team of municipal councillors to the unit to check firefighting arrangements before the House took any decision in the matter.

A subcommittee, comprising six municipal councillors, was then formed by the president. The Executive Officer of the council and the Station Fire Officer were also made members of the subcommittee which visited the factory on August 19.

In the report presented by the subcommittee to the civic body, it was pointed out that though the factory had firefighting arrangements, they were not adequate enough to fight a major fire.

Ms Daljit Kaur, municipal councillor from Mohali village, an area which adjoins Ranbaxy Laboratories, had said in her report that there was a sense of insecurity in the minds of the residents of the village and as such the unit should be shifted from the present location in the interest of the public.

Members of the subcommittee, after visiting the unit, had made a number of suggestions to the management of Ranbaxy Laboratories to bring about improvements in the firefighting arrangements till the unit was shifted from the residential area.


Academics to sports — she excels with ease
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 15
Guneev Kaur Dhillon, a Class XII student of Carmel Convent, Sector 9, has earned her place as the all-rounder of the school. From participation in quizzes to skating to topping in academics, she has done it all with ease.

"It is all because I love to read. Being a voracious reader has its advantages and I have benefited from them. I don't ever prepare for quizzes because I keep updating my information and knowledge. Before any quiz, I recall all I have read and invariably come back with laurels for myself and my school," she says.

Skating classes provide her a break from the reading schedule. "I have participated in nationals as a part of the roller hockey team and won a bronze medal. I began skating when I was in Class II to use my free time constructively. The awards just happened for me," she recalls.

While Guneev has not yet decided what she wants to pursue, she says she is focussing only on competitive examinations which will follow the board examinations in March, next year. "I am devoting most of my time to studies since the rest can wait. However, I have not decided what I want to be. I will let life take its course," she adds.

Having secured a diploma in French from Alliance Francaise, Guneev is also interested in writing. "Short stories and poems interest me a lot. I have a few published works to my credit as well. I have also won awards in essay competitions. This list is endless and there is so much to be done," she says.


Smoking will kill 1 cr in next 20 years, says expert
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 15
Informing youngsters of the inverse relationship between cigarette smoking and education, Dr Rajesh Kashyap, Registrar (Medicine), Indira Gandhi Medical College, Shimla, said, “A less educated person is more likely to take to smoking.”

Dr Kashyap was speaking on the concluding day of a workshop on “Tobacco smoking — effect, control and consequences” at Shivalik Public School, Sector 41, here today.

“The only reason that smoking is on the decline in developed countries and on the rise in developing countries is the difference in education,” he added.

He said according to a latest study on the use of tobacco, there would be 30 lakh deaths due to smoking in the next 20 years in developed countries, while it would be responsible for 70 lakh deaths in developing countries.

Stating that each cigarette reduced the life span of a smoker by 11 to 20 minutes and that of a passive smoker by three to seven minutes, he said smoking was responsible for cardio-vascular diseases, infertility, mouth cancer, chronic cough, recurrent pneumonia and lung cancer.

He said, “A cigarette contains over 4,000 toxic compounds and even non-smokers are affected by it. The wife of a smoker is 20 to 27 per cent more prone to heart attack on account of passive smoking”.

Mr Hemant Goswami of the Burning Brain Society, organiser of the workshop, asked youngsters to persuade their elders to quit smoking. He gave them five tips to be ‘active non-smokers’. These included not allowing anybody around them to smoke, object to people smoking at public places, educating youngsters on the ill-effects of smoking, to persuade people to quit smoking and say no to tobacco.

The director of the school, Mr D.S. Bedi, said proper education and information imparted to youngsters at the right age would go a long way in shaping a healthy and intelligent next generation.


Verma for protecting ex-servicemen’s interests
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 15
Society should safeguard the interests of ex-servicemen who have given prime of their youth for defending the frontiers of our country, said the Punjab Governor and UT Administrator, Justice O.P. Verma, while presiding over the 27th annual Rajya Sainik Board meeting held at Punjab Raj Bhavan today.

The Governor said it became, our moral duty to take care of ex-servicemen and their families who had sacrificed their lives to ensure that we all live in peace. Justice Verma said the Army was the only service where a sainik does not get an opportunity to work continuously up to age of 58 or 60 as in civil services and he was also on the move from one post to other discharging his duties and defending the unity and integrity of the country.

Justice Verma said in this process their families were the real sufferers. He said jawans do not get much time to take care of their social obligations. Once out of the Army, we have to ensure that he is assisted to settle his family and to fulfil all his social obligations.

Dwelling upon the measures taken by the Punjab Government for the welfare of ex-servicemen, Justice Verma said the government had already announced a package for the families of martyrs from January, 1999, under which ex-gratia for disabled (75 per cent to 100 per cent disability) had been increased to Rs 2 lakh. Last year Rs 1.57 crore had been released as ex-gratia to 172 beneficiaries and Rs12.10 crore have already been released to the dependents of 308 Kargil martyrs.

The Governor said a decision had been taken by the government to provide ex- gratia to the martyrs of Operation Parikarma, which was not available earlier. Even battle casualties, resulting from mine blasts, would entitle soldiers to get ex-gratia under the new policy. He said the government had already provided jobs to the dependents of martyrs.

The Governor said the Punjab Government had announced a package for gallantry award winners according to which Parmvir Chakra, Ashok Chakra, Mahavir Chakra, Kirti Chakra, Veer Chakra, Shourya Chakra and Sena Medal winners would now get Rs 25 lakh, Rs 22.5 lakh, Rs 15 lakh, Rs 12.5 lakh, Rs 10 lakh, Rs 7.5 lakh, Rs 5 lakh, respectively.

The Governor said the war heroes from Punjab had made maximum sacrifices to defend the unity and integrity of the country and the Punjab Government was offering maximum concessions to the families of the martyrs. A sub-committee was constituted to ensure that balance of special excise amount was refunded to the Sainik Welfare Department at the earliest. Besides, GoC-in-C, Western Command, Lieut-Gen S.S Mehta, Chairman, PSEB, Mr Y.S. Ratra, Secretaries of various departments of Punjab Government, officials as well as non-official members of the Rajya Sainik Board also attended the meeting.


Fauji Beat
Raw deal to ex-servicemen must stop
Col Pritam Bhullar (retd)

The only organisation in the country that has been downgraded in all respects after Independence is the Army. There has been a manifold drop in pay, pension and other benefits over the years. In 1949, the Armed Forces Pension Revision Commission stopped the compensatory pensions for early retirement. This reduced the pensions which varied from 75 per cent to about 90 per cent earlier, depending on the age of retirement, to less than 50 per cent.

Ex-servicemen who have been taking up their genuine demands with the governments in power for the past several decades without achieving anything, have now decided that they will vote only for the party that accepts their demands before the Lok Sabha elections. As a result, the Indian Ex-services League (IESL), New Delhi, has appealed to al ex-servicemen in the country, irrespective of their affiliations, to observe December 22 as a black day in protest against the government’s unsympathetic attitude towards their long-standing demands.

They have also been requested to wear a black band on their left arm from this day. “This will be the beginning of the agitation, which will continue until our demands are met”, says Brig Mohinder Singh (retd), president of the IESL.

Chandigarh DSOI shaping up well

With a sizeable number of defence officers having settled down in Chandigarh after retirement, a majority of them feel that there is a requirement of having a Defence Services Officers Institute (DSOI) in the City Beautiful. This is essential to provide them and their families a social milieu similar to the one that they had lived in during their service.

In 1988, when this idea was projected to the then GOC-in-C, Western Command, Lieut-Gen V.K. Nayar, he showed keen interest in establishing a DSOI in Chandigarh. With more and more defence officers making Chandigarh their home over the years, the then Governor of Punjab-cum-Administrator of Chandigarh, O.P. Malhotra, approved the project and laid the foundation stone of the institute in Sector 36 in July, 1991, on land given by the UT to the Punjab Government. Thus, the present institute took birth when the Punjab Government constructed a building for it.

However, it was only after the DSOI was handed over to the Headquarters Western Command on instructions from the then Governor of Punjab-cum-Administrator of Chandigarh, Lieut-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), in November, 2001, that the institute started improving on a war footing. Happily, the present Governor of Punjab and Administrator of Chandigarh, Justice O.P. Verma, is no less keen in the development of the DSOI. And if this institute continues to grow at its present pace, it will, in an few years, be one of the best DSOIs in the country, thanks to the keen interest that the Headquarters Western Command is taking in its growth.

Check illegal sale of CSD items

The Punjab Excise and Taxation Department according to a report, has unearthed a case where Army personnel have been selling Canteen Stores Department (CSD) items in the local departmental stores at Ludhiana, thereby, causing sales tax loss of crores of rupees to the exchequer. The news report also mentions that a few months ago, the Punjab Government had imposed sales tax on the CSD items, but this order was withdrawn due to a strong opposition from many quarters.

The opposition to levying of sales tax on the CSD items was justified and so was its withdrawal. For, the imposition of sales tax on a well-earned concession had resulted in penalising the entire defence community for the fault of a few black sheep. And it amounted to “throwing the baby out with the bathwater”.

The only way to stop a wrong practice is to punish the guilty. When this does not happen, more people are encouraged to take to the wrong practice. In all such cases, if the personnel involved are ex-servicemen, the Excise and Taxation Department should register an FIR with the local police. And if the serving defence personnel are involved, then the case should be reported to the local unit concerned or the local station headquarters. The Army, undoubtedly, will award severe punishment to the culprits. Incidentally, in the Tehalka case too, it is only the Army that is trying its officers by courts-martial. All others, “as usual”, have evaded the issue.


Promote minorities’ economic development, says Catholic Union
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 15
The All-India Catholic Union has urged the Centre and the state governments to promote economic development of the minority communities and check the anti-minority rhetoric by parties, witnessed during the recently held assembly elections in four states.

The issues were raised during the three-day meeting of the national working committee of the union which concluded here today.

Talking to mediapersons, Dr D.E. Menezes and Dr John Dayal, National President and vice-president, respectively, of the union, said the anti-Christian rhetoric in Madhya Pradesh and the Chhattisgarh Assembly elections was of great concern to the Orgainsation of Catholics in the country.

Dr Dayal said corruption in the civil administration and politics had become a threat to the minority. He said the union members were aware about the incidents relating to ethnic and religious intolerance against the minorities, especially the Christians. Several cases of the minority community members, running from pillar to post to get justice had come to the notice of the union.

Dr Menezes said the organisation, representing 1.60 lakh Catholics, had toured the areas where the recent assembly elections had been held. She said the Catholic Union and human right organisation had recorded over 200 cases of physical violence and official and political harassment against Dalits, Muslim and Christians. The union condemned a move by the Central and Rajasthan government to enact new laws against conversions. The union also demanded setting up of a state minorities commission to listen to the grievances of the minorities.


Farmers given krishi cards
Our Correspondent

Mullanpur-Garibdass (Kharar), December 15
As many as 32 krishi cards worth Rs 40 lakh were distributed among farmers of the area by the Mullanpur-Garibdass village branch of Punjab National Bank yesterday.

The branch has also become a member of the Chandigarh Clearing House.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Baljit Singh, senior manager of the bank, appealed to the farmers to avail the krishi card facility being extended by the PNB. Mr Rattan Singh, District Coordinator, Ropar, presided over the function and Mr Arvind Puri, Chairman, Youth Sports and Health Club, Mullanpur-Garibdass was the chief guest.


Readers Write
Roundabouts - a traffic hazard

Roundabouts in Chandigarh, particularly those near Tribune Chowk, Labour Chowk and Sector 16 Cricket Stadium, are proving to be a traffic hazard.

During peak hours in the morning and the evening, traffic becomes haphazard on these roundabouts, causing inconvenience to commuters.

The roundabouts should be done away with and the traffic light system installed instead. This will regulate traffic.

Besides, tractor-trailers should be banned during peak hours — from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. and from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Jasdev Sagoo, Chandigarh.


Safai workers end strike
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 15
The four-day strike of safai karamcharis today came to an end, after municipal council officials assured them that they would be paid their salaries soon.

It is learnt that the MC Executive Officer, Mr O.P. Sihag, today met Local Bodies Department officials and urged them to okay tenders of sanitation contractors at the earliest. He later said the payment would be released to the contractors by December 21.

Finally, the safai karamcharis too resumed work and the garbage, that had piled up in various parts of the township, disappeared by the evening.


Police forms teams to nab Subhash, Kumkum
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 15
The police has formed five teams to nab Subhash Arora and his sister Kumkum, two prime suspects in the triple murder case of Dr K.L. Arora, his daughter-in-law and grandson and verify and get details of his property.

Subhash Arora, the eldest son of Dr Arora, and his sister Kumkum reportedly went underground since December 12, when they went to Haridwar to perform the last rites of their father.

It is also learnt that the police called Ms Geeta and her husband for questioning tomorrow. Ms Geeta was a close friend of the victim, Parveen, and was with her a day before she, her son Anmol and father-in-law were killed.


Kidney patient fights for life
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 15
Mr Vijay Kapoor (27) is fighting for his life with both his kidneys becoming dysfunctional and he having no means to get them transplanted despite availability of them (from within the family).

According to his brother, Mr Ashok Kumar, the cost of transplantation is between Rs 4 and 5 lakh. Mr Vijay Kapoor is kept on dialysis, said his family members. He is married and also has two children (a three-year-old daughter and one-year-old son). His mother, a widow, is also said to be bed-ridden. His father died a few years ago. Mr Ashok Kumar is a rehri rickshawpuller.

The family, which is residing at H.No 1218, Sector 40B, has appealed for financial help for the kidney transplantation from the general public. The family could also be contacted at phone no (0172) 2698218.


Cyclist killed

Lalru, December 15
A 24-year-old cyclist Guljar Singh of Lalru village was crushed to death when a canter (PB-11H-3548) rammed into his cycle from behind on the Kalka-Ambala highway late last night. Employed with Bhushan Industries in Dera Bassi, Guljar was riding on his way to his office in Dera Bassi.

His body was today sent to the Civil Hospital, Rajpura, for post-mortem examination and was later handed to the family. Driver of the canter is said to have fled from the scene after the accident. The police has impounded the canter and a case has been registered. OC


Scooterist hurt in mishap
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 15
A scooterist was seriously injured in an accident here today. According to the police, the victim, Vallabh Singh, was hit by a Swaraj Mazda tempo from behind. The mishap happened near Magoo Petrol Station. The driver of the tempo fled away from the spot. 


Woman jumps to death
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 15
A Panchukla resident, Usha Sharma, 35, reportedly ended her life by jumping from the fourth floor of a house in Modern Housing Complex, Mani Majra, here this morning. A suicide note has been found, which states that she was taking the extreme step as she was fedup from her life and nobody should be held responsible for her death, said the police.

Usha, who was working as a teacher at a private school, reached the Modern Housing Complex this morning and jumped at around 9.30 pm. She is survived by three younger sisters and her mother. It is being said that she was under some kind of depression. 


PNB disburses loans worth 16 cr
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 15
As part of its retail lending drive Punjab National Bank (PNB) disbursed loans worth Rs 16 crore at a function organised here today. The loans were disbursed under various lending schemes of housing, car, trading, education and trading loans.

Mr S.S. Bhandari, Senior Regional Manager of the bank, said: “We have taken lead in providing shelter to the uprooted slum dwellers. In collaboration with the Chandigarh Administration, the bank has sanctioned loans worth Rs 2.70 crore to 226 poor inhabitants. The bank has plans to disburse loans to over 400 families by March 2004.”

Dr Rakesh Gupta, Lead Development Manager, here informed that out of total loans, education loans worth 1.5 crore were sanctioned on the spot to students for higher education. He said under the ongoing festival bonanza scheme, the bank was offering concessions in the rate of interest and had waived legal and processing fee till December 31. Today the bank disbursed loans worth Rs 8 crore for housing.

Mr Kuljas Rai, Assistant General Manager, PNB, Northern Zone, Chandigarh, said the bank had slashed interest rates on housing loans during festival season to 7.5 per cent for repayment periods up to 10 years under the floating option. The rate had been slashed, he said, by 1.5 per cent to 7.75 per cent for the repayment period of 10 to 20 years.

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