C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


City records lowest temperature in 3 yrs
Sunshine brings little relief
* Fog disrupts rail, road traffic

Tribune News Service

Temperature was 1ºC (lowest in three years) around sunrise today.
Record of least temperature is 0°C during the winter of 1973.
Fog will lift for three four days.
Cold conditions will be back by first week of January.
New Year Eve will be less foggy but may not be less colder. 

Chandigarh, December 29
The cold wave intensified today as the city recorded its coldest night in three years when the mercury plummeted to a near freezing 1°C in the wee hours today. Thankfully, the fog lifted in the morning leading to bright sunshine and city residents got a respite from the biting cold.

The last time the city recorded temperature of 1°C was on January 11, 2001. Met officials explained that the mercury had dropped to 1°C on other occasions also, however, the record is of 0°C in 1973. This morning fog had enveloped Chandigarh and its adjoining areas of Panchkula (Haryana) and Mohali (Punjab).

It may be recollected that it was during the ongoing calendar year that the 13-year record for the coldest day time temperature was broken. On January 8 this year the temperature was recorded at 8.4°C. However, this was for day time temperature. The minimum temperature is recorded early in the morning and is used as a benchmark to classify night temperature.

A day OF Fog AND Fire: Die-hard morning walk lovers brave the chill of foggy Monday morning to complete their routine at Sukhna Lake while poor labourers (right) seek solace in the warmth of fire as morning temperature plummeted to 1C in Chandigarh.
Poor labourers (right) seek solace in the warmth of fire as morning temperature plummeted to 1ºC in Chandigarh. — A Tribune photograph

The Director of the local Met office, Mr S.C. Bhan, explained that the temperature dropped as the fog had cleared up in the early hours. The clear skies meant more cold. In the next three to four days the fog will lift, however, the possibility of a cloud cover is there. Cold wave conditions will continue and fog was likely to return, said Mr Bhan as he classified the ongoing conditions as “severe cold wave’’.

Meanwhile, the cold wave continued unabated. Employees in offices huddled around heaters or blowers as rounds of tea followed. Due to the intense cold wave, markets were deserted during the evening, hitting business. Shopkeepers selling jackets, sweaters, blowers, geysers and heat radiators reported brisk sales.

Early morning fog, coupled with icy winds, played havoc with rail, road and air traffic. Indian Airlines could not land its Mumbai-Delhi-Chandigarh flight. An airline official said tomorrow’s flight will be decided on the basis of prevailing conditions. Trains were delayed between 30 minutes and 2 hours. The Shatabadi arrived about an hour behind schedule at noon.

Other trains like the Sadbhavana Express, Himalayan Queen, Paschim Express, Kalka-Jodhpur and the Kalka-Howrah were also running behind schedule. On the roads the fog was dense after 7 a.m and driving was dangerous. There were two major accidents, one each on the roads leading to Ambala and Ludhiana, respectively.

Around 10 a.m the fog had given way to sunshine and people ventured out for their ‘morning’ walk. The temperature had thankfully risen to 16.6°C. In the past 10 days foggy conditions had forced people to remain indoors.



Chaos as students queue up to deposit fee
Tribune News Service

PU extends last date

The Vice-Chancellor, Panjab University, Prof K.N. Pathak has announced that the last date for depositing fee and submitting examination forms has been extended till January 16, 2004, without late fee.
It is learnt that the decision to extend the last date was taken in view of the rush in colleges, requests from college principals and demand from the Punjab University Campus Students’ Council and the delay in announcement of the revised fee approved for colleges.

Chandigarh, December 29
There was total chaos at fee counters in government colleges of the city on the last date of depositing fee and submitting Panjab University examination forms, here today.

With the issue of fee hike in colleges hanging fire and the UT Administration sitting over the recommendations of the committee constituted to decide the matter, the heads of government colleges were at the receiving end as agitated parents demanded the extension of the last date and declaration of revised fee.

Long queues began forming in colleges since 8.30 a.m and the number of students continued to grow with every passing hour. By 10 a.m. the crowd in Government College for Girls, Sector 11 and at Sector 42 college as well as at Government College Sector 46, became unmanageable.

Later it became disorderly as students and parents jostled to pay the fee. In Government College for Girls, Sector 11, women constables were called in to take charge of the situation and help in systematic collection of the fee.

The counters were closed down for 10 minutes to organise the crowd and streamline the fee collection. However, this failed to have any impact and instead, elicited slogans of “GCG hai hai” following which the counters were reopened and students were back to their jostling tactics.

In the queue since morning, Ms Bindya Gupta, a parent, rued, “Most parents have been standing in the queue since morning skipping their breakfast. It seems our turn will never come.

Others complained that the UT Administration was to blame for the chaos. “They have been repeatedly holding meetings on fee hike practically every week. But they have not given a decision on the issue after a month. They must take responsibility and bail out the parents and students,” complained another parent, Mr G.S. Sandhu.

The students, too, alleged that they were pushed around by police personnel. “The police tried to make queues. While they failed in the task, they created more problems for us. Students who came after us, ended up paying much before us. Some of the girls who came with us in the morning fainted due to suffocation and had to go back without paying their fees,” said Chandni Gupta, a student of BA-I.

After office hours, worried parents rushed to the college to find out the reason for the delay.

The fee collection process continued till 7.30 p.m. The Principal, Ms Usha Kheterpal, on getting information of the decision by Panjab University, announced that the last date had been extended by over a fortnight.

Meanwhile, principals of colleges claimed that the students themselves were to be blamed for confusion. “There was uncertainty about the fee of the first year students only. The rest should have paid their fee on time. It is their own doing,” a Principal said.

At Government College, Sector 46, a large number of students descended on the campus to pay their fee and faced similar problems. However, fee counters there were closed down at 4.30 p.m. and students were asked to return in the morning.

While the GCG, Sector 11 collected only the examination fee from the students of the first year, while at GC-46, the authorities are collecting entire fee and funds. “We will refund the amount after the revised fee is declared,” the Principal, Ms Geeta Mohan, informed.


RBI official killed in car crash
Close shave for college students
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, December 29
An official of the Chandigarh office of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Vijay Kumar, died in a road mishap near Jawaharpur village, on the Kalka-Ambala highway, this morning.

Working as Assistant General Manager with the RBI, Vijay Kumar, along with his wife Vijay Laxmi and daughter Ankita, was driving back in a car to Chandigarh after dropping his elder daughter, Isha, at Ambala railway station.

The accident occurred when their Santro car (CH-03H-7519) collided head-on with a private bus coming from the opposite direction.

According to the police, the driver of the car was trying to pass a bus, when it rammed into the bus.

The three were extricated from the badly mangled car and taken to the PGI, Chandigarh, with serious injuries. While Vijay Kumar was declared brought dead, Vijay Laxmi and Ankita were admitted in serious condition.

The police said the family had gone to drop Isha at Ambala railway station. Isha is presently studying at Pune and had to board a train.

The bus (PB-11R-7081), owned by Sector 21-based travel agency Golden Travellers, was carrying around 25 students of Punjab Engineering College, Malikpur, when the mishap occurred.

The driver of the bus, Rajinder Singh, also received injuries, while students escaped with minor injuries.

Traffic on the highway was disrupted for over half-an-hour following the accident.

The police has impounded the vehicles and registered a case under Sections 279, 427, and 304-A, IPC, against the driver of the bus on the complaint of Mr Rajneesh Bansal, a Panchkula resident.


Stray sambar injures woman
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
A woman of Palsora village was injured by a stray sambar. She suffered injuries on her left eye and thighs and became unconscious.

Ms Joginder Kaur, 40, was going to a branch of Punjab National Bank in the village to withdraw money when a sambar suddenly appeared from a street and injured her with its horns. Ms Joginder Kaur, wife of Mr Sohan Lal a resident of house number 217, had just come out of her house when she came in the way of a frightened sambar that was being chased by as many as 150 amused children and elders.

The Palsora Market Association Chairman, Dr Raj, told the Chandigarh Tribune that the animal seemed to have come from Maloya side and the children were chasing it.

The sambar ran into couple of houses of the village initially before the accident occurred. ‘‘It was confused and was running recklessly in the streets of the village,’’ he said. Dr Raj said it was for the first time that a wild animal had been seen in the village.

He said the drama continued for at least half an hour after which the police reached the spot and took the injured woman to the Sector 16 General Hospital. The woman was discharged from the hospital after being given medical aid.

Dr Raj said the villagers were taking the woman to the hospital in a wheel-cart when the police vehicle reached the village and the police took her to the hospital.

Ms Joginder Kaur said she did not remember much except that an unfamiliar animal suddenly emerged from a street and hit her.

The police said it had informed the Wildlife Department to handle the animal. The villagers said the sambar went to a secluded place near the bank jumping over a barricade.

The Deputy Wildlife Warden, Mr Ishwar Singh, said such animals had strayed into the northern sectors but this animal might have come from Punjab side or from the Patiala ki Rao forest of the Union Territory.

He said the wild animals strayed to the city during the mating period when there is a fight between males. The weaker ones are pushed out of the jungle and then chased by dogs as they reach villages, he said.

Mr Ishwar Singh said last year the department had caught 15 animals and had sent them back to jungle.


Taking care of the aged and infirm
A. S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
What began as a small, routine vocational training programme for unemployed women a couple of years ago is turning into one of the biggest relief providing services for the old and infirm in the city, thanks largely to the determination and persistence of Ms Raminder Kalsi, honorary secretary-general of the local branch of the All-India Women Conference (AIWC).

The course was originally sponsored by the Chandigarh Social Advisory Board and executed by the local AIWC, but was scrapped by the Ministry for Human Resource Development after one year (2000-2001). "In the first batch, we trained 20 girls in basic care of patients," recalled Ms Kalsi in an interview with Tribune News Service here today.

"But to my surprise, I found that there was a great demand for such trained girls who can look after the aged and infirm in their houses. I had no difficulty in finding employment for them and sending them to houses in different sectors to look after the patients. Their charges are Rs 100 for day and Rs 150 for night time care…"

Ms Kalsi knocked at a few doors before Ms Madhvi Kataria, the then Director of Social Welfare, Chandigarh, came to her aid by providing funds for running the course. But now even these funds are no longer available. Therefore, she has decided to continue the training course even without the government aid. "Initially, the training was free of cost for the girls, but now I plan to charge for a four-month course to meet the overhead expenses.

''The course consists of one-month theoretical training and three-month intensive training in the wards of government hospitals. I must say that more than 85 per cent of the women who have undergone training here have found employment. In the process they are providing a critical service to society".

There are a large number of residents in the city whose parents are old and infirm and they require close attention, points out Ms Kalsi. "But neither the son nor the daughter-in-law has time to look after them even if they want to. It will be wrong to say that they don't care for their parents. Both of them may be working or too busy in their day-to-day affairs. They may have the money but not the time.

"On one occasion, I received frantic calls from three daughters-in-law of the same household calling for an attendant for their mother-in-law. None of them wanted to personally look after the old woman. So they were trying to do the next best thing: hire a help for her.

"This is where girls trained by us play a useful role. They are trained in handling a bed pan, making a bed, sponging and bathing a patient, physiotherapy and body positioning with special emphasis on avoiding bed sores in patients. I have been sending them to such houses and in many cases, old people who were unable to take care of themselves earlier, have been nursed back to health by my girls".

The other day, Ms Kalsi recalls, she received a phone call from a lady in Sector 38. She had come from Sydney to visit her parents but, to her dismay, she found that her mother was in a bad physical shape. Her old father was also unable to take care of her. "So she rang me up to send a trained person immediately to look after her mother so that she can catch a flight back to Sydney without a feeling of guilt."



Prof Pritam Singh honoured
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
In recognition of his outstanding contributions to Punjabi and Sikh studies in India and abroad, Professor Pritam Singh, a former Syndic and Fellow of Panjab University, was honoured by the Provost and Vice-President of San Jose State University, San Jose (California), USA, Dr Marshal R. Goodman, at a function held at Panjab University, here today.

Amidst cheers, Dr Goodman conferred Honorary Professorship of his university to Prof Pritam Singh. “I was impressed with the biodata of Prof Pritam Singh. I am yet to come across a man of such scholarship and academic accomplishments,” Dr Goodman stated. He also presented a plaque to the professor.

Overwhelmed with the gesture of San Jose University, Prof Pritam Singh appreciated their concern for the cause of Punjabi language and culture and hoped that this gesture would be emulated by the Punjabis and the Punjab Government as also the universities of the region.

The former Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Patiala, Prof Amrik Singh, recalled his association with Prof Pritam Singh and praised him for his tireless efforts to preserve Punjabi manuscripts.

Prof D.S. Tiwana, a writer, added that Prof Pritam Singh was a role model for litterateur and mankind while the Registrar of Panjab University, Prof Paramjit Singh, complimented Prof Pritam Singh for the rare honour and observed that he represented a unique combination of writing and verbal communication and expressed gratitude to Dr Goodman for recognising his services.

The former Principal Secretary, Higher Education, Mr NS Rattan, discussed Prof Pritam Singh’s contribution to Sikh ethos, history and culture. He added that Prof Pritam Singh had served the cause of Punjabi by collecting and preserving old manuscripts of Punjabi.



FLASHBACK ‘03: Municipal Corporation 
Controversies galore for MC
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

The year that was

Rejection of property tax
The Rs 16-crore scam due to delay in allotment of a hotel site in Sector-35
Congress councillors staging a walkout against the anti encroachment drive by Administration without their knowledge
Hike in water tariff
Chandigarh Club brawl involving the Mayor
Death of stray cattle during shunting to Himachal Pradesh.

Chandigarh, December 29
It was an year of controversies for the Congress-ruled Chandigarh Municipal Corporation. Issues ranging from the death of stray cattle during the course of shunting to Himachal Pradesh to Mayor, Mr Subhash Chawla’s involvement in the infamous Chandigarh Club brawl case, dominated the scene. The move by the Congress councillors to reject the agenda of levying property tax at a rate of 5 per cent in protest against the stand of the Chandigarh Administration attracted wide criticism.

Throughout the year, the BJP-led opposition tried its best to nail the Congress councillors on various issues of development and favouritism. But political strategy adopted by the Congress Mayor forced the opposition to be on the defensive.

Amidst the controversies, Congress councillors claimed that that maximum development works had been undertaken this year a fact challenged by the BJP councillors. Development was a routine affair, said the BJP councillors.

Talking to Chandigarh Tribune, Mr Chawla claimed that he had made the officers of the corporation to fall in line and listen to the elected representatives of the people. He admitted procedural delays led to slow progress of various issues.

On the issue of death of stray cattle, the officers of the health wing of the corporation had to do a lot of explaining. The officer concerned are facing a criminal case in a Himachal Pradesh court.

The issue led to stopping of the drive to catch stray cattle A hope emerged when some gaushalas in Delhi and Haryana agreed to take care of animals on certain terms and conditions. The Administration is also acquiring land for a gaushala.

On the resource generation aspect, the corporation may face cut in the next year budget after failing to generate the revenue from property tax and sale of commercial property. The next year being a election year would be crucial for the Congress to showcase its achievements and keep its “flock” in the general house together.

The issue of the administration repeatedly rejecting the agenda of the corporation saw the Member of Parliament, Mr Pawan Bansal, and the Mayor complaining against the attitude of the officers of the administration.

The Administration rejected the levying of property tax at a rate of 2 per cent followed by its resolution to give more time to diary owners to shift. The Administration also rejected a resolution by the House for a vigilance probe into the Rs 16-crore scam due to delay in allotment of a hotel site in Sector 35.

The issue of auction of two SCO sites in Sector 9 saw the Finance and Contract Committee of the House demanding action against the officials responsible for the loss in auctioning the sites. The corporation ultimately cancelled the auction of the sites.

The year also saw the residents again being burdened with hike in water tariff.

Despite pressure from the administration, the corporation could not extend the paid parking to other commercial areas of the city. However, the corporation was successful in developing several green belts in the city.

Throughout the year, it was the working of the enforcement wing which attracted the maximum criticism. Complaints of rampant corruption by the enforcement staff and interference by the councillors dominated the proceedings of the general House on more than one occasions, some officers in the enforcement wing were transferred to other wings following the controversy.


MC seeks staff for octroi collection
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 29
Following two unsuccessful attempts to auction octroi collection in Mohali, the Municipal Council has today demanded the appointment of 30 employees to enable it to start octroi collection on its own from January 1, 2004 when the tenure of the current contractor ends.

According to the President of the council, Mr Kulwant Singh, members of the council met to discuss the issue today and it was decided that an urgent communication be sent to the Local Government Department, Punjab, demanding an immediate solution to the problem.

Sources informed that the Council President has written to the Secretary, Local Government Punjab, to either reduce the reserve price of the contract or grant extension to the present contractor. ‘‘In case these two options are unacceptable to them then we should be immediately provided 30 employees to do the job ourselves,’’ added Mr Kulwant Singh warning that in case these employees are not deployed the octroi income from Mohali could reduce by 30 per cent.

The two attempts to auction octroi collection in the township received no response and majority of the members of the MC were of the opinion that the reserve price be reduced to a more realistic figure so that the collection can be privatised.

The president pointed that the reason that there was such a low response to the bidding was the 15 per cent hike in reserve rate of the contract. ‘‘Since the last contract was given at Rs 16.59 crore per annum, the government had according to rules increased the amount by 15 per cent and the minimum reserve rate was thus fixed at Rs 19.9 crore. This was probably too high for the bidders,’’ he said.

The contract of the company that had taken up the work for this year ends on December 31, but a majority of the members are against granting extension to the present contractor. ‘‘In view of the enormous number of complaints against the contractor, we will not allow any extension to him.’’ said Mr Manjit Sethi, an opposition member of the MC.


A poignant flashback of Kargil
Rama Sharma

Chandigarh, December 29
It was reliving the poignant moments of war for parents of Param Vir Chakra awardee Major Vikram Batra. They were here today to watch “LOC Kargil” screened exclusively for ex-servicemen at Fun Republic, Mani Majra, courtesy Fortis Heart Institute, Mohali.

“Yes the film is a befitting tribute to our soldiers. It is good, patriotic and inspiring, said his father, Mr Girdhari Lal, whose moist eyes mirrored the mixed feeling of pain and repose. “The film is quite close to war situation,” he said.

Recalling the Kargil conflict, he said” “When the Indian forces captured point 5401 peak, he gave us a call. He inquired about his friends, brothers and sisters,” he said. "We told him that we were proud of him". The martyr’s mother, Ms Kamal Kanta Batra, reflected the proud and more composed dimension. “I told him to remember Goddess mother”.

At point 4875, he rescued Lieutenant Naveen who had received a serious injury on his leg due to a blast,” the father said.

Mr Batra did not have any grudge about the dramatisation of the romantic angle in the movie. “Well, it is reasonable”, he said.

“Right from childhood, he was virtuous. His face always had a glow,” said Ms Batra proudly. What message she would like to convey to today’s youngsters: “Be brave and fearless. Be ready to give any amount of sacrifice for the country”.

A close friend of the martyr, Mr Rajneesh Narang, who is a software engineer, reminiscences his days at the IMA. “He used to stay with me. He was very patriotic, always full of vigour”, he said.

It was really amazing to discover that the “Vande Matram” spirit never goes latent. It is vibrant, throbbing in the hearts of these ex-servicemen who appreciated the movie.

Major H.S. Mehar (retd), whose son Major Harpreet Singh is in 24 Medium Regiment, was quite emphatic. “The movie is a must-see for all Hindustanis, so that they can see how difficult the life of an army personnel is. People should feel the pain of the mothers whose sons are fighting on the border”, his wife remarked.

“I believe life and death is in God’s hands. I too, fought in the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war. We were part of a forward observation post of the Artillery Regiment. My companion, a wireless operator, was killed and see nothing happened to me,” he said.

Major Dilbagh Singh (retd), too had loads of praise for the movie. “It is excellent. Never before have war scenes been depicted with such real touch and intensity. The movie inspires you to join the Army and do something for the motherland,” he says.

Mrs P. P. Singh, whose both sons are in the infantry, was still reeling from the hi-voltage effects of war scenes. “It is an ode to the man with “Dil maange more” spirit, she said.

Col J.S. Batth (retd) echoed similar feeling. “The flick is an encouragement to youngsters to join the defence services where the virtue of selflessness reaches its zenith”.


Education board re-employs clerks on ad hoc basis
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 29
The Punjab School Education Board today employed, on ad hoc basis, 135 clerks in the examination branch following a decision of the board to re-employ its former contractual employees as per their seniority. The services of these clerks had been terminated following the end of their contract two months ago.

According to sources, the board issued a circular today giving a list of 135 clerks who have been asked to join before January 6, 2004. These names have been drawn from a seniority list of clerks on the basis of the number of years served in the board.

The total list drawn is of 169 clerks but since the number of posts to be filled is 145, the first list issued today carries the names of only 135 persons. A subsequent list will feature the names of the next 10 persons to be employed. These posts have been filled for examination duties and for the duration of these duties only.

Other than the 107 clerks whose services were terminated following the end of their contract due to which they had taken to agitation, the seniority list also included names of 57 clerks who had been “thrown out” by the board recently following a report of the committee constituted to ascertain the validity of the process of their regular employment in the board. The 57 clerks had been serving in the board prior to the controversial conduct of the written test.

The general secretary of the Non-Teaching Employees Union of the board, Mr Bhagwant Singh Bedi, stated that they would now request the board authorities to fill the 60 vacant posts of clerks in the ‘middle section” from those left in the seniority list.


FLASHBACK ‘03: Chhat Bir Zoo
A year of joy and sorrow for zoo
Our Correspondent

Chhat Bir, December 29
For the famed Mahendra Chaudhary Zoological Park, located on the Chandigarh-Patiala highway, about 20 km from Chandigarh, this was an year of happiness and sorrows.

After much controversies and bitter infighting between the top Punjab forest officer and the top bureaucrat lobbies, for the post of Chief Warden (Zoos), Punjab, Dr Vinod Sharma, Chief Warden (Zoos), Punjab, was arrested by the state Vigilance Bureau in a corruption case and was later suspended.

Apart from Mr Sharma, four other zoo employees were also arrested by the bureau for their alleged involvement in the case.

It was on May 14 while investigating into the alleged smuggling of animal hides, bones and skins, particularly lions, tigers and panthers, a team of the Punjab Vigilance Bureau exhumed the remains of a royal Bengal tiger carcass from the animal graveyard within the zoo premises.

During the digging operation, bones, skull and hair of the big cat, whose carcass was buried in the backyard of the zoo hospital, bones of some other animals including bear, monkey and exotic birds were also recovered.

On May 22, an unattended delivery by a royal Bengal tigress which gave birth to three cubs in her enclosure put a question mark on the functioning of the authorities in taking care of the welfare of the wildlife in the zoo.

The tigress, who was pregnant, left unattended and not under observation by the zoo staffers, finally delivered the cubs in the enclosure housing over a dozen of grown big cats. The new ones were lucky and were hidden by their mother under an artificial cave in the enclosure.

June created a history as a white cub was born to a brown royal Bengal tigress on 18th of the month.

It was for the second time in the past two years that the Royal Bengal tigress gave birth to a rare white cub, along with three other brown-coloured cubs in the Chhat Bir zoo. The zoo authorities took extra precautionary measures and put three employees on round-the-clock vigil on the new born cub.

At the same time, the authorities also started working on a project for procuring white tigers from other zoos in the country for the pairing of the white big cats so that a pure white tiger safari could be established at the zoo in the near future.

To provide best possible medicare to the big cat, veterinary doctors were put on duty to examine the ‘‘new attraction’’ thrice a week.

After having failed to stop breeding of the cats even after conducting vasectomy of over two dozen Asiatic lions in last six years, the zoo authorities have finally started administering the powdery contraceptive to the female ‘cats’ after segregating them from their male partners on September 7.

The powder was fed to the cats by sprinkling it on meat chunks to the lionesses, tigresses and female panthers which have been caged in separate enclosures.

On September 17 another attraction was added to the zoo. A female hippopotamus calf was born after a gap of over four-and-a-half years. The birth took place exactly one year after an elephant calf was born in the zoo last year. The successful breeding of elephants in captivity here had created a record in the history of Indian zoos.

The birth of the hippo came on the day when the zoo authorities were making preparations to celebrate the first birthday of Seema, a baby elephant.

October 7 was the day of mourning when an old female elephant breathed her last after alluring crowd for over 25 years in the zoo. The 95-year-old elephant, Kaweri made her final exit from the world. She died because of old age. She was brought to the zoo after renowned circus of 70s, Kamla Circus, winded up way back in 1978, Kaweri was a prime attraction for the visitors thronging the zoo from all over the country for her antics.

Tearful adieu was bid to Kaweri on October 8. Carcass of the 95-year-old pachyderm, was buried in the fodder farm of the zoo after a post-mortem examination was conducted by a team of four veterinary doctors from Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana.

This year the mortality rate among zoo inhabitants touched a new high. The alarming increase in the death rate of the zoo inhabitants raised serious doubts about the upkeep of animals by the authorities.

‘‘Though the year brought cheer to the zoo employees and the visitors as well, there were moments of sorrow when certain senior zoo employees and especially Dr Vinod Sharma, former Chief Warden, (Zoos), Punjab, came under the clouds of corruption,’’ feels Mr Kuldeep Kumar, Director of the zoo.

Moreover, some animal exchange programmes have also matured on the directions of the Central Zoo Authority in this year and certain species of exotic animals would be the centres of attraction for the visitors in the next year, claimed Mr Kuldeep Kumar. 


Brandy for animals to beat the chill
Bipin Bhardwaj

Chhat Bir, December 29
Ranging from electric heat convector to make them drink brandy are some measures being used by Mahendra Chaudhary Zoological Park authorities to keep animals, birds and reptiles at a bay from biting cold.

With the mercury dropping to 1°C from 5°C, accompanied by freezing cold waves, the traditional methods of keeping cold at a bay are also chosen by the zoo authorities. Jute bags and thatched screens have been put to cover the ventilators of the ‘houses’ in different animal enclosures. Besides straw, husk and blankets are certain effective measures made to keep the ‘mute’ zoo inmates warm.

Wild animals make their own arrangements to beat the chill in their natural habitats. But here in captivity they are at the mercy of zoo management.

Whereas a room of Zoo Hospital has been virtually converted into an Intensive care unit for a python with round-the-clock electric hot-air-blower and a 500 watt electric bulb. The reptile has been kept in a wooden box and a black blanket has been provided as a ‘bed’ for it. The authorities have also arranged an electric generator set, in case of any power failure.

Sources in the zoo revealed that deaths of an old lioness and a inbred lion cub due to cold wave last week, forced the zoo authorities to take necessary measures to beat the freezing “killer” cold.

Coming up with a novel method, the zoo authorities have decided to administer brandy to each animal once a week. The ‘liquor’ would be fed to the Himalayan black bear as per their body weight, claimed Mr Nirmaljit Singh, zoo veterinary doctor.

Talking to the Chandigarh Tribune, Mr Kuldeep Kumar, Director Zoo, claimed that best possible arrangements have been made to protect the zoo inmates from the cold wave. In addition to hot air blowers, jute bags and thatched screens have been put around the enclosure of lions, tigers, panthers, bears, chimpanzee, capped African buffalo and other animals.

A visit by the Tribune team revealed that straw and husk were arranged for beds on the surfaces of almost every enclosure of zoo inmate, including birds and reptiles. The makeshift wooden sacks raised for deer, black bucks, stag, swam deer, Laddakhi goat, hog deer and certain other animals were covered with gunny bags and straw.

The cages of winged housing in birds aviary have also been covered with plastic sheets.


Search Within
Faith in Him will bring happiness in New Year

THIS is the time to wish our friends and dear ones a happy and blessed New Year. Though such greeting is more of a western custom, it is meaningful in that it provides us an occasion to express goodwill and love towards one another.

The first day of the New Year could be like any other day of the old year! “Time has no divisions to mark its passage. There is never a thunderstorm or blare of trumpets to announce the beginning of a new month or year,” according to Thomas Mann. Even when a new century begins it is only we mortals who ring bells and fire off pistols, he adds.

But then every day presents before us opportunities for splendid new beginnings. I am fond of repeating this passage from the pages of an old Readers Digest (author unknown). It runs thus:

“Every day is a new birth in time, holding out new beginnings, new possibilities, new achievements. The ages have witnessed the stars in their orbits, but this day hath no age witnessed. It is a new appearance, a new reality. It heralds a new life, a new society, a new age.

It holds out new hopes, new opportunities to all men. In it you can become a new man, a new woman. For you it can be a day of regeneration, renewal, rebirth.

But what will determine your purpose? Or to put it differently, who will determine your purpose of life? Very often man’s wisdom guides him along. Determined men do achieve lot of things in life.

Yet much more will be accomplished when we allow ourselves to be guided by the wisdom from above; the wisdom of the one who created us in the first place.

In other words, our purpose will depend on what we believe: our world view. In one of the Psalms, the psalmist ponders thus: “Know ye that the Lord, He is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.” This is from the Bible. The Gita, Koran and other major scriptures speak of a God who made men.

If we created ourselves we can then conclude that we are masters of our destiny. We can then exercise our reasoning faculties and arrive at a purpose of our own. But if you believe in God, you must then spend time on what your God expects from you. And it is worth spending time on what your purpose for life is. The rest of your life is still before you. If anyone starts to build a house, he first makes a plan of the house taking into consideration his resources etc. How more important it is to have a plan for life — something more than a flat or a house!

Having a purpose and then developed a plan for your life, you need to have a faith that can see you through the vicissitudes of the journey of life. Human experience proves beyond doubt that man is not the master of his own destiny. What the future may bring is still a matter of conjecture. Fortunately we have enough evidence to trust in One who is in charge; who has created us in the first place.

Religion consists in man-made theories about the Creator, about life and about man’s faith in a creator. False concepts might only lead us to emptiness and frustration. Rightly has a man of God, Richard Baxter, warned of this tendency in man to create a God in his own image: “Men are prone to spin themselves a web of opinions out of their own brain, and to have a religion that may be called their own. They are far readier to make themselves a faith , than to receive that which God hath formed to their hands; are far readier to receive a doctrine that tends to their carnal commodity, or honour, or delight than one that tends to self-denial.”

Faith is variously defined. It is self-confidence for some; for others it is a vague hope that things will turn out well in the end. Yet others identify it with positive thinking. But true faith is more than all these. It is “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

In an ever-changing world, we need to anchor ourselves on faith. It is faith that can make heroes of ordinary people. But this faith cannot be grown within oneself, The right kind of faith is a gift from God. It is available to those who believe as the psalmist: “Know that the Lord, He is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people.”

We are not masters of our own destiny and we can not manufacture faith within ourselves. The faith that creates heroes comes from God Himself and it involves certain convictions about the existence of God, about His responsive relationship to us; and it involves convictions about God’s creative work which has brought into existence ourselves and our universe.

Man’s hope and eternal longings are associated with such a faith. Death and fear of death and the grave are overcome through such; it is such a faith that goads him on in the face of all tragedies and sorrows. That faith is the light which shines in our dark world.

And when you walk in that light, you will find that the laws of life are written on the tablets of your heart. Therein you find the yearning for love and peace; for justice and righteousness, for brotherhood and unity of the human family. And when you conform to those laws, happiness should follow you this New Year as day follows night. Then we might all agree that life is not all sorrow or pain, but a blessed gift.

MPK Kutty


Kamlesh’s nomination challenged
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
Three councillors of the local Municipal Corporation today challenged the nomination of Ms Kamlesh to the post of Mayor.

Ms Kamla Sharma, Ms Harjinder Kaur and Mr Rajesh Gupta , today submitted their objection to the Returning Officer of the Municipal Corporation. The three councillors have claimed that the husband of Ms Kamlesh , Mr Banarsi Dass and an uncle of her husband, Mr B. Lal, were members of the Mohalla Sudhar Samiti and were receiving Rs 51,000 per month as aid for sanitation of their ward from the MC.

The councillors claimed that this tantamounted to receiving monetary benefits from the MC directly thus her nomination papers should be rejected and she should be disqualified under Section 13 of the MC Act. Ms Kamlesh is the lone candidate for the post of Mayor and has been more or less elected and only a formal announcement is to be made on January 1.

Three years ago a similar controversy had been raised when Mr Raj Kumar Goyal was elected as Mayor. His family’s concern had a contract to supply soap to the MC . Then it was decided that since Mr Goyal did not bid for the tender in his name he could not be disqualified. Sources said the case of Ms Kamlesh has to be studied.


CII working to uplift villages in Morni Hills
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
The efforts of the Confederation of Indian Industry (Northern India) have begun to change the lives of some of the villagers in Morni Hills. As part of its social responsibility, the CII is working on a number of initiatives across the northern region in terms of primary education, AIDS counselling, youth livelihood, health camps, adult literacy campaigns and women’s empowerment.

In a press statement issued here today, the CII has claimed that it had started activities in a cluster of villages in the Morni Hills of Haryana, with Bhoj Palasra village being the nodal one. It is aiming to improve the quality of life of its residents through different interventions. For this, it has set up five self-help groups for women to deal with issues relating to savings, inter-loaning, health and hygiene in an organised way. At present, 34 girls/women are attending the training programme at the tailoring centre.

For youth mobilisation and development, boys and girls’ clubs have been started. The members, who carried out a cleanliness drive in the village lanes, have agreed to contribute their labour for the construction work of a water tank. Sports events and a small library are other activities, which have met with popular response.

Regular discussions are being held with teachers and parents on the education of children which have brought about a positive change among the villagers. Three girls have applied for high school examination through open school.

Health check-up camps are being organised with the help of the Health Department. All children (below 5 years of age) in Bhoj Palasra and nearby villages have been administered with polio drops. A ‘dai’ training programme and dissemination of information on domestic herbs used in common ailments is also being undertaken. While an animal health awareness camp is on the anvil, veterinary medicines for common ailments of cattle are being provided to villagers. Information on cash crops (tomato, onion, potato etc.) are also available for the farmers.



Eco Notes
Time to save Sukhna’s fish
Vishal Gulati

The waters of the Sukhna are home to nearly 37 species of fish belonging to 12 families, including Indian major carps and a few exotic carps. The fish fauna, which was introduced in the lake from the nearby areas, has affinity with western Himalayan elements.

The lake supports fish which can survive both in clear and oxygen-deficient waters. Some of the fish are listed as endangered or critically endangered by the Washington-based International Union of Conservation of Natural Resources.

The lake, which is rain-fed, was created in 1958 to strike a balance between land, water, flora, fauna and air. Over a period of time it has lost more than 75 per cent of its storage capacity.

The lake has six colourful aquarium fish species, including the green barb, stigma barb, fire fin barb, danio and zebra fish.

It also supports exotic fish species which include the common carp, silver carp, grass carp, mosquito fish and gold fish.

Though Indian major carps like rohu, mrigal and catla are stocked into the lake from time to time, exotic carps are also introduced occasionally. In addition, fish from the surrounding areas are often washed down during floods. Some hardy species like the sting ray catfish and the banded colisa have also made their entry into the lake.

Prof M.S. Johal of the Department of Zoology, Panjab University, says stocking of exotic species, except the mosquito fish, in the lake should be discouraged. Studies show that exotic carps have an edge over Indian carps as they can tolerate wide range of temperatures, are omnivorous, voracious in feeding and have high reproductive potential.

The mosquito fish or guppy helps in controlling the population of mosquito larvae. It was introduced in village ponds in 1928 from Italy.

A native of Bangkok and Sri Lanka, the common carp breeds throughout the year in confined waters and matures much earlier than the Indian major carps, therefore its population is more than that of the native carps.

The common carp is the biggest fish found in the lake. Its size varies from 30 cm to 40 cm and weight from 2.5 kg to 3 kg. However, in the freshwater its weight goes up to 10 kg. Catla, whose weight varies from 1.5 kg to 2 kg, is also found here. The length of the pari, also known as feather-back, varies from 2.5 to 3 inch.

Sadly, the growth rate of the fish has been reduced due to disturbed hydrobiological conditions of the lake. A majority of the fish are old and their progeny is not biologically fit for existing conditions. Generations of sub-mating have also reduced its growth rate.

Experts feel that studies on the growth rate should be conducted by the Fishery Department in collaboration with scientific and research institutes. A document on fish biodiversity should also be brought out. The lake is, however, managed more administratively rather than biologically.



Doing 50-50 with weight!
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
Mr Navneet Singh, a resident of Sector 49-B (House No 1687, Pushpac Complex) has alleged that the Britannia Biscuit Co. Ltd is cheating the people by supplying packaged biscuits with less weight than what is mentioned on the packets.

He claimed that when just out of curiosity he weighed a packet of Britannia 50-50 biscuits last week, purchased from Sector 49 market, on the electronic weighing machine, he felt cheated since a packet of 200 gm weighed just 175 gms. The manufacturing date of the pack was mentioned as November, 2003, and its batch no was DCM.

He said though he had spent just Rs 15 on the pack, but he could not expect that a leading brand like the Britannia would sell the packets of lower weight in the market. He wondered though the brand was charging a premium on the biscuits claiming that they were of good quality, and were made in the best conditions yet the customers were cheated by supplying lower quantity.

He added that when he approached the shopkeeper, he expressed his helplessness saying that the packet was supplied by the company’s wholesale dealers. Mr Navneet Singh has urged the Consumer Right Organisations to take a note of this issue.


Fire in Panchkula hotel
Our Correspondent

Panchkula, December 29
Goods worth lakhs of rupees were destroyed in a fire that broke out at the fifth floor of KC Cross Road hotel this afternoon. Two rooms were gutted completely in the fire causing huge loses, however, no lost of life was reported.

According to eyewitnesses, the hotel employees noticed smoke emitting at the hotel and subsequently the fire engines from Panchkula and Mani Majra Fire Station were called.

A team of firemen and the fire tenders took about an hour to overcome the blaze. Short circuit is said to be the cause of the fire. No case had been registered in this regard till the filing of the report.


Plea to CHB chief
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 29
A physically challenged man, resident of Sector 44, whose application for the allotment of a house under the Special Housing Scheme — 2003 of the UT Administration, has been rejected on the ground that he has no income of his own, has requested the Chairman, Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB), that income of his mother should be taken into account for the purpose.



Two women held for theft
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 29
The police arrested two women of Mohali for allegedly stealing mobile phones, a CD player and camera from a Sector 35 hotel here yesterday. Besides, three more cases of theft were reported from different parts of the city during the past 24 hours.

The two women, Ritu and Kamal, residents of Phase II, Mohali, were arrested under Sections 380 and 411 of the IPC on the complaint of Mr B. Johan, a resident of Gurgaon, Haryana. The police claimed that the stolen items were recovered from their possession.

In a separate case, Mr Gurwinder Singh of Sector 23C reported to the police that thieves broke into his house and took away gold jewellery and Rs 7,500 yesterday. A case under Sections 454 and 380 of the IPC has been registered.

A Maruti car (CH01 S 8374) of a Sector 22B resident, Mr Satpal Garg, was reportedly stolen from a parking lot of a Sector 35 hotel. Ms Kamlesh Gulati, a resident of Sector 37, also reported that her Hyundai Santro car (CH03 L 6763) was stolen from her residence on the night of December 26.

Two cases of theft under Sections 379 of the IPC have been registered.


Two auto-lifters arrested
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
The police today claimed to have busted a gang of two-wheeler lifters involved in 13 cases in the city.

Gurdeep Singh, alias Penta of Chamkaur Sahib and Mannu Prasher, alias Amit Kumhar, of Janata Kumhar Colony, Sector 25, were arrested today by the Crime Branch. The police impounded five two-wheelers and recovered accessories of eight other vehicles from the possession.

The total value of the seized articles is estimated to be Rs 1.5 lakh, according to the police. Chamkaur Sahib resident, Gurdeep Singh is a clerk with a private contractor. One of their accomplices Gurpreet Singh, alias Sunny, is absconding.

Their area of operation was Sectors 34, 39, 40 and 44.

A Bajaj Chetak scooter (CH01 S 2737), another Bajaj Chetak (PB 12B, 8460), an LML Vespa scooter (PB 15 A 8000), a Kinetic Honda scooter (CH01 E 9852) and a Hero Honda Splendour (HR05 H3941) have been recovered.

Gurpreet, a mechanic in Chamkaur Sahib, used to open the locks of two-wheelers. The gang used to dispose of the stolen vehicles using fake registration numbers.

The gang used to remove accessories of those vehicles whose locks could not be opened by them.


2 drug companies admit wrongdoing
Our Correspondent

Panchkula, December 29
Initiated with an aim to curbing unethical and arbitrary trade practices by pharmaceutical companies, a drive by the Drug Control Authority of the Health Department, Panchkula, has yielded results.

In a press note, Dr Satvir Chaudhary, Civil Surgeon, Panchkula, informed that due to the persistent efforts of Drug Inspector, two major pharmaceutical companies — Biological E. Limited, Hyderabad, and Auroville Labs, Ahmedabad — have agreed to stop the marketing of their three dietary supplement products.

Dr Chaudhary said Biological E. Limited, which was manufacturing and marketing two “dietary supplement” products containing chitosan and spirulina, respectively, had admitted to irregularities in their response to quasi-legal and scientifically unimpeachable notice served on the company by Mr Kamaldeep Dhawan, Drug Inspector, Panchkula.

The inspector added that the company after receiving the notice admitted wrongdoing and submitted a written undertaking that in order to comply with the aims and objectives of the lawful and scientific notices, the two products — Chitosyl capsules and Bethodoxin-XL capsules — would be manufactured as a “drug” after obtaining the stipulated permissions from the Drugs Controller of Andhra Pradesh, thus complying with statutory provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.

He said another Gujarat-based major pharmaceutical company, Auroville Labs, marketing Ginsoma capsules containing Ginseng, had also given an undertaking before the inspector that they would incorporate written directions pertaining to the side-effects, contra-indications, abuse-liabilities of Ginseng over the label of their product.

Dr Chaudhary claimed that Mr Dhawan had also issued similar legal-cum-scientific notices to other companies, including Ranbaxy, Nicholas, Micro Labs and Sidmak Laboratories, in November, 2003 as these companies had been manufacturing and selling costly dietary supplement products.

As regards to the product Revital, manufactured and sold by Ranbaxy, the company, while addressing to the legal notice served by the Drug Inspector, has submitted two replies.

He further said over 10 mega pharmaceutical companies, including Ranbaxy, Cipla, Lupin, Sanat Products, Nicholas and Micro Labs, were manufacturing and selling costly dietary supplement products. All such companies were following the western laws to manufacture and sell such products in India. Almost seven such companies had been served with legal notices by the Drug Inspector.

The main contention of all such legal notices was based on the simple fact that while in India, the companies needed to follow the Indian Laws framed in the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.

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