C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


City celebrates birth of 2004
Tribune News Service

a city hotel decked up on New Year Eve
A city hotel decked up on New Year Eve.
— Tribune photo by Karam Singh

Chandigarh, December 31
All roads led to celebrations as chill failed to freeze the thrill on New Year Eve.
As the last surviving day of the dying year slipped away into oblivion ceremoniously, apprehensions regarding blind haze fogging the spirits made their final exit. No wonder, even before the clock struck 9 in the evening, tearing passion broke loose in the city.

Wild shrieks drowned the din of desperate honking as young innocents, even wild and wacky hunks, in leather jackets over boot cut trousers, drove towards 2004 in their jaunty jalopies with cheerful red and yellow balloons sticking out of the windows.

The revelers stopped the vehicles, decked up with gladioli, in front of the hotels and the restaurants in Sector 35 to twist and shout under sodium vapour’s brilliant lights as high wattage car stereos blared out latest hits one after another. As beads of perspiration dotted their brows, sweaty hands removed the pullovers before tying them around the waists. Others negotiated the sharp curves of life on their way uphill. Some reached Kasauli. Few rushed to Shimla.

In discotheques and night clubs, exhilarated figures, illuminated by colourful blinking lights, twirled all around the polished dance floors to the thumping beats of rhythmic music as synthetic smog filled the air.

Heaven is a place on earth was the impression as “angels” in glittering micro minis and sleeveless tops descended the dance floors oblivious of the cool winter breeze.

As electric guitar’s rhythmic notes echoed against the decked up walls, close dancing followed. Muscular arms slipped around reed-thin waist as damsels placed their fragile hands on broad shoulders. Stags, who somehow managed to enter, stared with envy at the dancing couples.

Outside the discs, angry young men in unending queues shrieked and screamed at the security guards impatiently as they slowly teared the invitation cards before allowing them to enter.

As the hands of the clock apparently kissed each other, the city was rocked by a tremor of excitement. Year 2003 went crumbling down, just as 2004 rose from its ashes, encouraging the crowd to break into a frenzy. Jackets went up in the sky and “Happy New Year” filled the air as everyone greeted everyone without discrimination. “Network is busy” — that is what the residents heard as they pressed back lit keys of mobile sets with tired fingers for wishing near and dears.

Hooligans too did not miss the opportunity. In Sector 35 and in Sector 10, they tried to stop young couples cruising on their two-wheelers but disappeared as soon as they spotted men-in-khaki.

For dealing with them, the Chandigarh Police had deployed a massive force all over the city. Barriers too had also been set up at strategic places. Police Gypsies patrolled the length and breadth of the city.

Meanwhile, dazzling flames illuminated the night sky on Panjab University campus as young revelers danced away their blues around bonfires while the portable stereo blared out some of the still remembered hits.

Others rushed to the city bars for witnessing the tenders from Delhi setting the evening ablaze by igniting the counters after pouring invigorating red wine on the counters, excitedly.

Belly dancers all the way from Russia and Egypt unveiled, unraveled and unfolded the mystique of Arabia during “Jalwa” organised at Forest Hill Golf and Country Club about five kilometres from Punjab Engineering College. Huddled together around the blazing fires, the revelers stood up to applause.

The lush green lawns were converted into an impressive open-air theatre as Bollywood musical ballad, showcasing 75 glorious years of India cinema, was presented. Gorgeous hostess Mehar Bhasin was the hostess.

Cheerful balloons fluttered in the breeze as Chandigarh Club members, along with their guests, thronged the venue for “real fun”. As a disc jockey mixed fast numbers with slow ones, even not-so-young joined in.

At Golf Club also, there was no stopping the crowd as their excited feet thumped the ground. Beads busting at the brim of sparkling cut glasses attracted the crowd as special brand of whisky was offered to the revelers.

As impressive speakers blared out hit music, the crowd screamed with excitement at CGA Golf Range. It was moonlight magic as the visitors savoured “sumptuous cuisines”, along with the “choicest of liquor”.

Meanwhile, hotels were hot in Chandigarh. At Hotel Mountview it was fun all the way into 2004. Foot- tapping music by disc jockey Rambo and performance by STEPS added sparkle as an evening party was hosted in the front lawn. The venue of prime celebrations was, however, Hotel Shivalikview as the residents lost their blues in an impressive hall. As they tasted continental, Indian and Chinese cuisine, disc jockey Sunny from Delhi mixed music.

At hotel Sunbeam, rooftop party was organised. DJ Groovy mixed the music as a band performed live. Cool music, mixed by Delhi-based DJ, enthralled the visitors at North Park. They savoured Thai food at Maya Palace. Hotel Classic in Sector 35 had a television anchor for the programme. The crowd crooned along as Babu Mann performing in a Sector 34 ground.

Press Club in Sector 27 was the right place to step into the New Year. The Red and White New Year Blast night with performance by Punjabi pop singer Sarbjit Cheema and Gurpreet Ghuggi of Ghuggi Express frame was indeed a success.

In Panchkula, Mumbai-based fusion-band Tapasya performed for the first time at Sector 3 Gymkhana Club. The group members included, Rakesh, Parihast, Rupesh Parihast, Devanshu Chakravorty, Jeino Banks and Aditya Paudwal, son of famous singer Anuradha Paudwal .

Punjabi singer Romi Gill performed in Sector 6 Gymkhana Club, At Red Bishop in Panchkula, the residents had a great time enjoying giddha and bhangra.



A saga of apathy
Tribune News Service

An unidentified man, who remained out in the open for three days near the PCA Stadium in Mohali
An unidentified man, who remained out in the open for three days near the PCA Stadium in Mohali.

Mohali, December 31
As the loud music of New Year Eve party blared from the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) Club, little did the revellers know that a mentally challenged and homeless man had been lying on the road just behind the club in the open for the past three days.

Being attended to by nearby residents, the man who can barely tell his name, was found lying in a semi conscious state by some children playing on the street. ‘‘He was shivering and we shifted him to a place near the wall,’’ said Mr Bhupinder Singh, a resident of Phase IX.

Residents of the area gave him warm clothes and food but no one took him home. ‘‘We cannot give him care. He is mentally challenged and has no awareness of what he is doing. He cannot take care of his personal hygiene and frankly we cannot keep him at home,’’said Mrs Paramjit Kaur who has been feeding the man and had given him a quilt and a blanket.

“He says his name is Satish and is from Chandigarh but beyond that he says nothing. He asks for food, the children give him bread, tea and biscuits. He is alive but in this kind of cold, if no one comes to take him away he will not survive another night here, ’’she added.

The family had informed the police but it did not do anything. Policemen tried to talk to him but since he can give no address there was nothing much they could do, they just left him here,' said Mrs Paramjit. ‘‘As the word spread that there is an unidentified person here, some people whose family members are missing also came to see him but no one has claimed him so far. I really wish that he is taken to a home for the physically challenged so that he survives,’’ she added.

Later, Mrs Paramjit called The Tribune office in the evening and said the man had been taken away in a truck. She said they could not inquire about where he was being taken to, as the truck had left by then.



Bloody show of apathy on highways
Bipin Bhardwaj

Zirakpur, December 31
The incident in which a cop’s body was run over by vehicles throughout the night on the busy Kalka-Ambala highway near here on Monday night has once again focused on the growing insensitivity of common man towards human life.

Gone are the days when the entire neighbourhood kept a vigil over ailing friends and relatives. Nowadays people just turn a blind eye to those suffering from pain or in need of help. While a lot of hue and cry is raised over the suffering of animals no such outrage is expressed for tragic incidents, like the one mentioned above.

There are various bodies which speak up against cruelty towards animals but the fate of the common man seems to be of lesser importance. In this case of brutal insensitivity, hundreds of vehicles drove over the body. The cop’s body lay unattended and no one even bothered to stop and inform the authorities concerned.

“I have witnessed such a case of blatant callousness and apathy earlier also where none of the passers-by bothered to inform the police. The speeding vehicles of VIPs, politicians and even police personnel drove over the bodies on road,” claimed Sunil Kumar, a resident of Chhat village.

A badly crushed body remained unguarded for hours on the Zirakpur-Patiala highway in Chhat village in July last year. Crows, vultures, stray dogs and jackals preyed on the body, he claimed. The birds kept on hovering over the body and picked up scattered pieces of flesh while the wild animals were looking for a chance to get their ‘pound of flesh’ till the remains of the body were removed by the police, he recalled.

Mr Bhupinder Singh Saini, assistant governor of Rotary International District 3090, was of the view that eyewitnesses and general public did not want to be involved in litigations and other police cases so they avoid informing the police about such incidents. There should be frequent police patrolling on the Chandigarh-Ambala and the Panchkula-Patiala highways. Moreover, the vehicles used for night patrolling should be fitted with flood lights and equipped with first aid facilities, opined Mr Saini.

Mr Sunil Banda, general manager of a housing colony along the Chandigarh-Ambala highway near Zirakpur, pointed out that the highway was not equipped to carry the heavy volume of traffic which often led to fatal accidents. Injured and the dead remained unattended due to the lack of proper communication. Telephones with different police stations and the police posts also remain non-functional most of the time.

Moreover, the octroi, and sales tax barriers on the highways have become major bottlenecks in the smooth flow of traffic and obstacle in rushing the injured to the nearby hospitals for immediate medical aid, he observed.

Though the Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the state government to four-lane the highway but nothing has been done in this regard so far. This negligent attitude of the government has claimed a number of lives in various road accidents in the past, said Mr Rajbir Singh, a Lalru resident.

Meanwhile, Mr Manmohan Kumar, DSP of Dera Bassi, admitted that the Dera Bassi police had less number of officials and vehicles. He added that the Zirakpur police post has been upgraded as a police station but did not have adequate staff as yet.

The DSP further said unaware of the Supreme Court’s guidelines a common man hardly informs the police about such incidents. He said only a few persons come forward to extend a helping hand to the accident victims and inform the police on humanitarian grounds.



Petrol, diesel prices increased
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 31
Petroleum companies today gave vehicle owners a New Year blow by raising petrol and diesel prices. The increased prices will be applicable from midnight tonight.
The price of petrol per litre in Chandigarh has been increased by Rs 1.02 to Rs 34.11. While in Mohali the price has been increased from Rs 35.93 to 37 a litre. The price of petrol in Panchkula has also gone up by Rs 1 to Rs 33.74.

Diesel (High Speed Diesel) will cost in the city as compared to its two surrounding townships of Mohali and Panchkula. A litre of diesel in the city will now cost Rs 21.45. The increase in price is Rs 1. In Mohali the price of diesel has increased by Rs 0.99 and will now cost Rs 21.35. Earlier, the prices were increased on December 16. 



Fog hangs heavy over Indian Science Congress
A.S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
The thick blanket of fog accompanied by a numbing cold which has been enveloping the entire northern region for the past couple of weeks is threatening to disrupt the proceedings of the 91st session of the Indian Science Congress due to be held here from January 3 to 7.

The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, is scheduled to inaugurate the five-day mega science event on Saturday while the President, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, will attend it on January 5. More than 3,500 delegates from all over India and abroad are expected to participate in the meet which is being jointly hosted by Panjab University and Institute of Microbial Technology (IMTECH).

However, in view of the uncertain weather conditions, most of the delegates are reported to be making alterations in their travel plans to the City Beautiful. A large number of them have given up plans to arrive here either by air or by train. Instead, they are opting to travel to Chandigarh by road one day ahead of the start of the congress.

The Prime Minister is also not taking any chances with the weather and is expected to arrive in Chandigarh from Delhi one day ahead of the meet that is on the evening of January 2. He will stay at Punjab Raj Bhavan on Friday night and inaugurate the congress at Panjab University campus at 9.30 a.m. the next day.

His two-hour inaugural programme is also being curtailed to enable the Prime Minister to fly back to Delhi from where he will leave in the afternoon for Islamabad to attend the SAARC meet in the Pakistani capital. A helipad is being readied at the PU campus to enable the Prime Minister’s chopper to land and take off without any loss of time.

The Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, is also arriving here on the evening of January 2 by Shatabdi Express. He will spend the night at Haryana Raj Bhavan.

“We expect most of the delegates to be in Chandigarh by Friday evening”, said Dr K.N. Pathak, Vice-Chancellor of Panjab University in a talk with TNS here today. “Nobody wants to take a chance in view of the uncertain weather conditions”.

Dr Pathak said cold wave conditions had also affected, to some extent, the preparations for the congress. “The road repair work being undertaken on some of the major roads in the campus has slowed down because coal tar requires a minimum of 16°C to melt while the day temperature has seldom exceeded 10°C during the past few days. At night, it has been falling to as low as 1°C…”

But he was confident that there would be no major problem in the conduct of the congress.

He also said that the Science Congress had not been able to raise as much funds as originally anticipated. “As a matter of fact, the industry of the region has not contributed more than Rs 1.25 lakh which was sufficient for printing the brochures only.

Similarly, the state governments of Punjab and Haryana too have been rather miserly. Punjab has promised a sum of Rs 57 lakh only. Only a few years ago, it had contributed Rs 2 crore towards the hosting of the Indian Science Congress at Punjabi University, Patiala. Haryana too has promised an undisclosed sum.

“Most of the contribution towards hosting of the Science Congress has been from Central scientific bodies like CSIR, ISRO, UGC and the Department of Atomic Energy”.

All available accommodation in hostels on the PU campus as also in the colleges affiliated to the university has been earmarked for the delegates. All the CITCO-run hotels including Mountview, Shivalikview and Parkview have also been blocked for the duration of the conference. PU authorities are confident that up to 1, 500 delegates can be accommodated in the campus itself because 100 rooms have been got vacated in each of the 11 hostels. Besides, two new hostels with a total of accommodation of 525 rooms will also be available.

One hundred and fifty taxies have also been booked besides 20 coaches through CITCO for the use of delegates.

Some of the big names in Indian science who will chair these sessions include Prof M.S. Swaminathan, UNESCO Professor in Ecotechnology, Prof N.K. Ganguly, Director-General, ICMR, Dr R.A. Mashelkar, Secretary, DSIR and Director, CSIR, Prof Arun Nigavekar, Chairman, UGC.

A special science session will be held for school children. It will bring together about 500 children from schools in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh and other places in the country to expose them to the excitement of science. Talks, exhibits, demonstrations and visits will be the means to enthral the children about the solutions that science provides to questions about natural phenomena and life processes. This programme will be convened by Professor H.Y. Mohan Ram of Delhi University.

One of the major highlights of the Science Congress will be “Pride of India” science Expo 2004. This exhibition will be addressed to common person to observe the imapct of science on his life. The major national achievements in the various areas of science and technology will be focused upon. The exhibition will be put together by government, private and academic institutions. A “Hall of Pride” will be a special feature of the exhibition.



Truck overturns near GMCH
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
A truck overturned near the GMCH, Sector 32, today morning when a repaired part of the road caved in. The truck bearing registration number HP22 6714 was coming from Hoshiarpur when the accident occurred due to fog, Jaswinder Singh, the driver of the vehicle told the Chandigarh Tribune today.

Jaswinder Singh and two policemen who were sitting in the truck, when it met with the accident, escaped unhurt, he said.

“Nothing was visible in the night when he suddenly saw few stones lying on the road,” he said. “By the time I could understand, the wheel got stuck in a pit,” the driver said.

Jaswinder Singh said the occupants of the vehicle came out unharmed from the side of the driver seat. He said he felt the truck tilting towards one side after the wheel got stuck. He said the truck was carrying around 7 tonnes of wood to be supplied to an industrial unit in Dera Bassi.

There have been similar accidents on this stretch after the roads were repaired after servicing of either water or sewage lines.



Govt school timings changed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
Due to severe cold, the Chandigarh Administration has decided to change school timings in the government schools. The new timing for single shift schools will be from 8.30 am to 2 pm. In the double-shift schools, the morning shift will run from 8 am to 1.15 pm and the evening shift from 12 noon to 5 pm (teachers and other staff from 11.30 am to 5 pm). The government schools will open on January 2 and the new timings will remain in force till January 20. During these days, there will be no morning assembly in the schools.



Kamlesh’s election a foregone conclusion
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
The election of Mrs Kamlesh, as the first Scheduled Caste woman Mayor of the municipal corporation, remains a mere formality tomorrow.
The election of Mrs Geeta Rani as the Deputy Mayor also remains a formality in the absence of any opposition. The only post that will witness a contest is that of the senior deputy mayor. Mr Pradeep Chhabra from the Congress and Mr Rajesh Gupta from the BJP are in the fray for the post.

The election process will start at about 11.30 am and the process will be presided over by Mrs Amar Kulwant Singh, a councillor.

The BJP-SAD councillors had filed an objection against Mrs Kamlesh contesting for the post of the Mayor. They alleged that her husband and his uncle were involved in the sanitation work of their area under a scheme sponsored by the corporation. Under section 13, she was not qualified to be a Mayor.

Sources pointed out that the relevant section was not applicable for the post of the Mayor. "Let them file an objection and the administration will look into the case. As of now, she is the only candidate in fray for the post", a senior councillor said.

Mr Rajesh Gupta, a BJP councillor, said they had met Mr Karan A Singh, Finance Secretary, to lodge a complaint regarding the candidature of Mrs Kamlesh.

“The Congress is now saying that a complaint could be filed regarding the candidature of a councillor and not a mayor. A mayor is also a councillor. If a person is unfit to be a councillor how could he be considered for the post of a mayor?" he added.

Mrs Kamla Sharma, a former BJP Mayor, said " we have taken up the issue before the competent authorities and expect an early action".



Defer CAS implementation, says forum
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
The Cable TV Network Act in its present form would harm the interests of the viewers, as it would result in increase in monthly charges, decrease in the number of channels, no quality assurance and lack of any redress system in case of complaints. These views were expressed by Mr R.K. Kaplash, senior vice-chairman of the Consumer Forum Chandigarh, at a seminar organised on the Conditional Access System (CAS) here yesterday.

Speakers called upon the government to defer the implementation of the CAS till the concerns of the consumers were addressed properly.

Air Marshal Randhir Singh (retd), speaking on the occasion, lamented that neither the local administration nor the cable operators were giving due attention to the concerns of the consumers. Further, a large number of operators were not paying fee and tax for the right number of consumers. Mr R.K. Sachdeva expressed concern about the resistance faced by the monopolistic attitude of the operators and multi-service operators.

Mr Pawan Bansal, local MP, disclosed that the pricing of the channels had no mention in the Act. He said the independent regulator must be appointed by the government since the technology had surpassed the provisions in the legislation. He questioned why only 30 free channels were made available at the rate of Rs 72 per month and not 40, for which the price tag is Rs 90. He urged the government to fix the price tag of each channel. 



City colder than Shimla
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
The cold wave continued to affect normal life as the residents of the city and its surrounding areas once again woke up to a thick blanket of fog which reduced visibility to a few meters.

Once again flights stood cancelled, trains were delayed by several hours and road traffic was hit. The minimum temperature rose slightly to make the night more comfortable.

It was recorded at 6°C. A day earlier this was 4.4°C. During the day, the mercury was still much below the average for this time of the year.

During day time Chandigarh was colder than Shimla. Shimla recorded 14.4°C while Chandigarh recorded 11°C.

Today the fog lingered on for a longer period thus having an impact on major trains arriving late.

Unlike yesterday when the trains in evening hours were on time, today even the trains in the evening like the Janshatabdi arrived more than one hour behind its scheduled arrival at 6.15 pm.

By evening, the fog had cleared up but clouds replaced the fog blanked. Meanwhile, the local Meteorological Department said foggy conditions were likely to continue for some more day.



Shelterless, stray cattle suffer chilly nights 
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH: The fall in temperature in the city to near-zero is not only affecting the poor and the homeless, but also the stray cattle seen on roads and parks all around.

The municipal corporation (MC) and religious organisations may try and pass the buck, but the fact is that hundreds of cows are struggling to find a warm place in secluded corners, while facing the wrath of MC employees and residents.

Says Mr Dilbag Singh, caretaker of the Sector 45-D Gaushala, “We are trying our best to take care of about 250 cows. Sant Bhurewale and transporter Mahinder Pratap Singh Singla are spending thousands of rupees daily on these cows. There are, however, still hundreds of cows roaming in the city with no one to provide them shelter or some fodder for survival. I wonder why politicians and other religious organisations keep on crying foul over the plight of ‘mother cow,’ while most of the cattle are forced to survive on polythene bags and garbage .”

Interestingly, the city has become a major centre for stray cattle, coming in from Mohali, Kharar, Panchkula and even faraway villages in the Ropar and Banur areas.

According to one estimate, there are over 3,000 head of cattle in the city. The MC employees claim that a section of farmers in the surrounding villages find it convenient to leave cows in the city at night after milking them. Some of them have even been left permanently as they do not give milk any more. Large open spaces and green grass in the city parks are an attraction.

It is alleged that even employees of the Mohali and Panchkula MCs push cattle into the city. The menace is especially serious in the southern sectors of the city. While MC staff catch over 50 head of cattle every week, they find it difficult to dispose of them. The politicisation of the issue has aggravated the situation.

The MC is financing another gaushala in Sector 25 with a capacity of over 125 head of cattle. It has also decided to offer Rs 1,000 per cow to a gaushala near Delhi, as it finds it difficult to hold the animals.

Sympathy for these dumb creatures has given way to anger after a number of accidents due to them. However, officials say “Without the participation of the residents and neighbouring farmers, the problem cannot be solved. During winter social and religious organisations should come forward to provide the cattle some relief.”

Says Mr Manjit, one of the caretakers in the Sector 25 Gaushala, “It is an irony that residents spend thousands of rupees on pet dogs or New Year celebrations, yet they do not have time or money for these animals that give us milk and manure for our fields.”



Flashback ’03 MOHALI
Ranbaxy blast was the news of the year
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 31
The Ranbaxy blast, two visits by the President of India and high profile murders ensured that the township remained in headlines through 2003. While the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) set a new record in declaring examination results in time and finally throwing out the 134 tainted clerks, for Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA), the year went down in history when its office shifted from a slummish complex to a six storey glass house building.

2003 began with the high profile murder of Chandigarh Administration's Executive Engineer V.K. Chopra outside a marriage palace in Phase V market. The two main accused were caught within a day of the murder followed by another arrest a week later. Investigations revealed that the murder had been planned by Chopra's' colleague and a building contractor and the actual murder executed by history sheeters of Chandigarh. While one of the main accused in the murder Parampal Singh Matharoo died in jail during the year, another accused in the case, Anil Kumar alias Tota wanted by the Chandigarh police in some other cases continued to evade both the Mohali and the Chandigarh police.

June 11, 2003 was a red letter day for Mohali residents. Two powerful blasts in the Ranbaxy Pharmaceutical Unit literally shook the township out of its summer night slumber. Panic spread through the township as a major fire broke out in the unit. Thousands of residents fled Mohali while many spend the night out in the open. The next morning led to the discovery of two dead bodies from the debris of the blast followed by the death of another three persons later in the hospital due to burns. A magisterial enquiry was conducted into the blast followed by an independent inquiry by the Punjab state human rights commission and a five member committee of the Mohali Municipal Council. The demand to shift the unit out of mohali was not met but all inquiry reports stressed the need for better safety arrangements in the unit which is surrounded by a thickly populated residential area. What remained a mystery was the cause of the blast and the fire.

The gruesome murder of Gurcharan Singh, Chairman Institute of Engineering and Technology, Bhaddal during his morning walk in the neighbourhood park barely 200 meters away from his house in Phase XI sent shock waves in the town. This murder too, the police claimed to have solved when they arrested one of the directors of the College management followed by the arrest of a nephew of Gurcharan Singh and his friend who allegedly committed the murder. The lure for power and money associated with the College was said to be the motive behind the crime.

The visit of the President of India Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam in September, the second ever visit of a President to Mohali, was an important event for the residents. Dr Kalam presided over the convocation of National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research in Sector 66 here and also inaugurated a new block at NIPER. In his address, Dr Kalam stressed the need to save the intellectual property rights of the nation. The President's second visit to the township was to inaugurate the Army Institute of Law in Sector 68. The Institute which was running from a makeshift campus at Patiala started its 2003-2004 session in Mohali.

Before the year ended, two other horrifying murders took place. First, a 48 year old man shot dead his second wife in her sleep and shot at his teenage step daughter and son before fleeing his house in phase X. The man was however caught within two days of the incident. On November 9, a middle aged woman beat a 22 year old youth, Sukhdev Singh, to death while he was doing sewa in the gurudwara. He was beaten up by the woman for allegedly refusing to send langar to her house during the Gurpurab celebrations.

The township had its solemn share of suicides during the year. In September, a 50 year old resident of Phase VII allegedly committed suicide following depression related to payment of pending loans. In October, a 20 year old resident of Guru Nanak Colony committed suicide due to the family's poor economic condition. In November, a 15 year old house help committed suicide. A 25 year old married woman of Phase 3B2 allegedly killed herself by hanging herself from the ceiling. Another 25 year old house help committed suicide here after the woman whom he loved turned down his proposal for marriage. On December 9, a 17 year old engineering student allegedly committed suicide.

At the Punjab School Education Board, the 134 clerks who had been appointed through a written examination which was later proved to be fudged were thrown out of the Board. The office of the controller of examinations showed remarkable performance when it declared the Class X and Class XII examination results within schedule for the first time in the Board's history. Similarly the affiliation branch conducted the first ever interactive open house session with principals of all the affiliated schools of the Board. The Board officials also signed an MOA with a school education Board of China during the year.

Other than for the shifting of office, PUDA remained in news for its anti encroachment drives and action against the illegal colonisers. The reduction in rate of interest for various payments by PUDA brought it at par with the Haryana Urban Planning and Development Authority. The Authority also planned new urban estates in seven places in Punjab and by the third quarter of the year, PUDA had managed to bring in foreign direct investment (FDI) in real estate in Punjab with the first integrated FDI township planned for Mohali. PUDA also allowed certain changes in its building byelaws.

Starting with the privatisation of octroi collection in January 2003, the Municipal Council's focus throughout the year remained on giving all its works on contract. Despite complaints from the residents, sanitation work remained on contract. Council gave stray cattle catching into private hands but the experiment failed.

The closure of the state owned Punjab Recorders Limited and the selling of Punjab Tractors Limited to a finance company in UK during the year, spoke volumes of the condition of PSUs in Mohali. However, IT related industries found Mohali an attractive bargain to invest in.

Other than the inauguration of two new community centres in Sector 70 and 71, Pracheen Kala Kendra opened its centre here. However the much hyped state level Spinal injuries centre failed to start functioning even this year. 



Readers Write
Don’t forget senior citizens’ interest in PPF 

Senior citizens are dependent on their savings, there being no old-age security as in developed countries. They depend primarily on the interest on their savings in PPF, etc.

The interest rates on these savings have, however, been going down steadily. It is alright if the interest is reduced on new deposits, as in the case of fixed deposits. At least the banks do not reduce the interest on existing deposits. But PPF and other long-term deposits are an agreement between two parties and should not be dishonoured midway, definitely not without the consent of the two parties — it would be a breach of the contract and faith.

The authorities do not seem bothered about old people. May be they feel the senior citizens are just temporary and so not much of a vote bank. Having served the country in one way or the other, the post-retirement people at least deserve an explanation for this deceit. They do not have the resources to go to court over this.

M.L. Khanna, Panchkula

Courtesy call

This is in response to the letter “This is public dealing” by Ms Kashish Khanna in The Tribune on December 22. I am surprised that she was shocked by the ill treatment at a post office.

You go to any public-dealing office and you are treated as a culprit. There is no courtesy at all, politeness is totally absent. If you go a public office for any legitimate work, you either grease the palms or are treated worse than dirt.

It is the ingrained desire to be rich without any effort that is behind this behaviour.

Employees of all public-dealing departments should be selected after an interview with a board on which there should be a psychiatrist. They should then be given a course in moral values, courtesy, politeness, honesty, etc. During service, this should be repeated over and over again, with the requirement of passing an exam. There should also be a deterrent in case they are found wanting in courtesy.

Harish Khanna, Panchkula

Urdu’s Lall

Apropos of a piece in “Chandigarh Calling” (December 22) regarding the teaching of Urdu under the aegis of the Punjab Languages Department, it is disheartening to learn about the treatment being given to this course.

As an old student, having learnt Urdu from one of the most dedicated teachers of this language, Dr H.K. Lall, I feel it is a very unfortunate thing happening to these classes.

At the beginning of this six-month course twice a year, one can see people from all walks of life eager to learn this “nawabon ki zubaan.” There are IAS officers to small businessmen, students to housewives, who for the next six months are mesmerised by the innovative and charming way of his teaching. Many of his students have pursued this language further and got higher degrees.

Following the shifting of the venue of these classes, there is news that Dr Lall will discontinue teaching till a proper and permanent arrangement is made in Chandigarh. Separating these classes from Dr Lall is unimaginable; I call upon all his students (current and old) to unite and come forward to keep this flame of Urdu burning.

Kuldip Singh, Chandigarh

Dangerous trees

There are 10 old and more-than-70-ft-tall eucalyptus trees near house numbers 1060, 1065, 1065/1, 1098 and 1098/1, Sector 29-B, Chandigarh. In strong winds during the last rainy season, some of these trees tilted towards the houses and we fear that whenever there is a storm, these trees can fall and cause damage to life and property. There are also electricity wires passing under these trees.

We want action to be taken to cut down these trees as early as possible.

Residents of Sector 29-B, Chandigarh

Post office wanted

Nearly a hundred group-housing complexes are now functional and construction activity is in full swing in Sector 20 of Panchkula.

Residents face a lot of hardship in the absence of a post office. Migrant labourers, who frequently send money orders to their families back home, are the worst sufferers. A post office in the sector is, thus, urgently needed. This will also go a long way in boosting small savings.

Lalit Bharadwaj, Panchkula



Mauli Jagran resident dies
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
A 30-year-old resident of Mauli Jagran, who was hospitalised on December 28 after allegedly taking an overdose of medicines, died in PGI today.

The police suspects Virender allegedly attempted to commit suicide as he had been surviving on medicines for the past 20 years. Virender was taken to the Sector 16 General Hospital on December 28 after he allegedly had an overdose of the medicines.



Man crushed to death

Chandigarh, December 31
A 35-year-old employee of the PWD was killed this evening at the Hallomajra roundabout when his bicycle was crushed by a Punjab Roadways bus. Kannan, son of Kapoor Swamy, was declared brought dead at the Government Medical College and Hospital. TNS



Scooter stolen, owner gets notice for traffic violation
Sanjay Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
The Chandigarh Police today added insult to an injury of a lineman of the Chandigarh Electricity Department by sending him a notice to furnish details as to who was driving his scooter a month after it was stolen.

Balkar Singh today got a registered notice from the Traffic Police for his scooter bearing registration number CH01 Z 1506 being allegedly involved in a violation of traffic rules.

According to the notice the scooter was being driven by a helmetless driver on December 20 at 3.05 p.m.

Balkar Singh was surprised as he had reported the theft of his vehicle in Sector 19 police station on November 20.

Mr Balkar singh said the notice of the traffic police show inefficiency of the police which instead of nabbing the thieves had served a notice on the owner of the stolen vehicle.

He says it also shows that the police has not been able to trace a stolen scooter which was in the city for at least a month.

The vehicle owner said he was checking a faulty line on the dividing road of Sector 18 and 19 towards Sector 19 side on December 16 when the scooter was lifted.

He said he had parked the vehicle at one point to trace a fault in the line and had moved forward to look for the problem in the line. But when he returned, the scooter had disappeared from the spot.

The notice puts a question mark on the claim of the police that it has taken steps to prevent the sale of stolen vehicles. A unit set up for the certification of the vehicle is supposed to have details of such vehicles.

It means the information from one branch of the police is not shared with another branch, said Mr Balkar Singh. The Chandigarh Police recently held a meeting of all SHOs and DSPs of the area apart from DSP (Crime) to make a joint effort in dealing with theft and burglaries in the city.

The notice under Section 133 of the Indian Motor Vehicle Act says the vehicle stands registered in Balkar Singh’s name in the books of the Transport Authority.

The notice asks the owner of the vehicle to supply to the DSP (Traffic) within seven days of the receipt of the notice the name, licence number and the present address of the person who was driving the vehicle when the offence is alleged to have been committed.

The notice says that the failure to furnish the information is an offence under Section 187 of the Motor Vehicle Act, punishable with a fine of Rs 500 or three-month imprisonment.



Couple hurt in mishap
Our Correspondent

Panchkula, December 31
A couple was seriously injured after an Indica car carrying a Director of the Haryana Gramin Vikas Bank rammed into their scooter on a road separating Sectors 5 and 6, this afternoon.

The car (CH-03D-4445) hit the Vespa scooter (HR-03C-1351) driven by Mr Raj Kumar. His wife Kavita Devi was on the pillion seat.

The injured were admitted to the General Hospital in Sector 6 and later referred to the PGI, Chandigarh.

According to the police, Mr Gurnam Singh, Director of the Haryana Gramin Vikas Bank, was in the car. After impounding the vehicles, the police has registered a case.



Gujral releases silver coins
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
To mark the golden jubilee of Chandigarh, a set of three commemorative silver coins was released by the Home Secretary, Mr Raminder Singh Gujral, at the UT guest house yesterday.
The coins have been designed by Jewellers' Promotion Council, Sector 17. Speaking on the occasion, Mr Gujral said the Jewellers' Promotion Council and other trader associations of the city have been doing commendable work for the golden jubilee celebrations. He appreciated the efforts of the council for arranging a national cultural programme which will be held in March, 2004, in which teams from different states will perform their cultural activities.

Mr. Gujral informed that in the series of celebrations, the Chandigarh Administration has approached the Government of India for releasing a postage stamp and pre-paid envelope. He said that the Administration will provide full support to the associations, institutions and organisations who want to participate in the golden jubilee celebrations of the City Beautiful.

Mr Subhash Kataria of the Jewellers' Promotion Council said that three coins of 10 gram, 20 gram and 50 gram weight each bearing the logo of the Chandigarh Administration are made of silver of a ultra high purity of .999, specially arranged by the council for making these coins. The cost of these coins is Rs 150, Rs 300 and Rs 750, respectively, in individual packing, and Rs 1200 in a single packing of these three coins. He said that the coins are collectors' items and will be commemorative in nature marking the golden jubilee of Chandigarh. These coins are available at council office, Sector 17, and also available at the shops of jewellers in Sector 17.

Mr Pawan Bansal , MP, Mr Satyapal Jain, ex-MP, Mr M.P. Singh, Commissioner, Chandigarh Municipal Corporation, also spoke on the occasion and appreciated the efforts of the council. Among others who attended the function were Mrs Renu Saigal, Chief Architect, UT, Chandigarh, Mr S.P. Arora, DPR, UT, Mr O.P . Popli, Director, CTU, Mrs Sarita Malik, CGM-CITCO, Chairman of the Chandigarh Coin Collectors' Club, Brig Chattopadhya, president of the Beopar mandal, Mr Jagdish Arora, prominent citizens and members of the Jewellers Promotion Council.



Industrialists condemn action of Estate Office 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
The general body of the CITCO Shed Holders’ Association, at an emergency meeting held here today, condemned the action of the Estate Office to remove shutters forcibly.

Mr Ranjan Verma, president of the association, in a press statement alleged that while the ownership rights had not be given to the owners of the sheds, the administration was illegally demanding the subletting fee which was not to be charged after the expiry of 15 years period from the date of allotment of the plots.

He said conditions of the roads in the Industrial Area had deteriorated over the past years, but nothing had been done in this regard. Moreover, water bills were issued on average basis without taking the actual meter reading. The association said while the units in Phase II were giving direct and indirect employment to over 30,000 persons, the Estate Office had removed the shutters forcibly and its employees had taken away the material without any prior notice. The association has called upon the Administration to resolve the issue otherwise it would be forced to adopt an agitational path.



JCT may revive its electronics unit
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 31
JCT, the flagship company of the Thapar Group, one of India’s largest industrial conglomerates, is making a serious bid to revive its sick unit, JCT Electronics Limited, here.

Sources in the company revealed that the fourth meeting in this month between the management and the employees union was held today to finalise the modalities of the proposed revival of this Rs 200-crore plant that had pioneered the production of colour picture tubes (CPT) in India.

The Mohali plant, established in 1986, has a capacity of 0.8 million CPTs and produces 20-inch conventional CPTs. It was set up in technical collaboration with Hitachi but has been off production since May 2001. The management declared lock out in March 2002. As many as 14,000 employees of the unit lost their jobs following the closure of the company. The employees, many of whom are still living in the company’s residential complex in the township, have not been paid any wages since June, 2001.

The General Manager (Personnel) of the company, Mr Harish Thapar, said the company was closed as it was incurring losses. ‘‘In case the employees, right from the top and that includes me, are ready to sacrifice the kind of pay and associated perks which the company offered then, its revival is possible. But with the same wage structure and working, there is no way we can revive the unit,’’he added.

Sources also informed that the management had given details of the terms and conditions of the service of employees working at the Karjan (Baroda) plant of the JCT, hinting to the employees that the new wage structure will be akin to the one being followed by the company there. ‘‘Unlike the Mohali unit where the cost of production was too high to make the unit viable, the unit at Karjan (Baroda) is showing excellent results. The plant there is one of the most modern CPT plants in the world today. It is a technological landmark, is equipped with highly sophisticated machines, which include over 50 robots and power-free conveyor systems of nearly 4 km length. It commenced production in 1996 and has a capacity of 1.2 million CPTs. The same CPT which costs Rs 55 to produce there was costing us Rs 135 here. We are ready to revive the unit of the cost of production if it comes down to Rs 70 per CPT but not any higher,’’ said Mr Thapar.

The management will be initially re-employing over 30 persons who will be sent in the unit first to assess the working of the machinery which has been lying unused for the past two years. However, the actual revival of the company will start only when the management and the employees reach a settlement regarding the wages. The management according to sources has made it clear to the employees that the employees who had opted for the VRS will not get in the new set-up.

JCT Electronics Limited was the first CPT manufacturer in India. JCTEL, formerly known as Punjab Display Devices Limited (PDDL), was set up as a wholly, owned subsidiary of the Punjab State Industrial Development Corporation (PSIDC) in 1976 to manufacture Black and White picture tubes, cathode ray tubes, gas-filled discharge tubes and fluorescent display tubes at Mohali. The PDDL was taken over by JCT Limited. in 1986 in a diversification project to manufacture CPTs. The company is now expected to infuse more finances in to the unit here. ‘‘We still have to pay the banks but something is being worked out with them too,’’said Mr Thapar.



Panchkula to have shopping malls
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
If all goes well, Panchkula will soon have shopping malls on the pattern of Delhi and other metropolitan cities.
A spokesman of HUDA, which would develop the sites for shopping malls, said here today that the shopping malls would have retail shops, commercial show rooms, display showrooms, restaurants and food plazas, health club and fitness centre, call centres, corporate offices and banks.

He said the permissible ground coverage area would be 40 per cent of the plot, floor area 175 per cent and the maximum permissible height would be 30 metres. A few freehold sites for shopping malls would be auctioned on January 20. 


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