C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Youth tortured for refusing to rape mother
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
A 55-year-old widow and her son were allegedly disrobed and kept in a locked room in a Janata Colony house in Sector 25 for three days. The son was allegedly ordered to rape his mother. When he refused to outrage the modesty of his mother, he was tortured with sharp-edged objects and hot iron rods. His private parts were bruised and he was kicked.

He was tortured by members of the family of a girl who suspected that one of the six sons of the widow had abducted their daughter, who they claimed, was a minor.

The fury of the revengeful family did not stop here. They then sought to terrorise the old woman to have sex with her son. When she refused to succumb to pressure, she was kicked and hurt in private parts of the body. The accused cut her hair and a pair of scissors were used to hurt her.

The Sector 11 police station has registered a case under Sections 365, 506, 323, 394 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code against seven persons, including the grandfather of the girl, her uncle, aunt, father, mother and a cousin. The grandfather of the girl and her maternal uncle Brahm Singh have been arrested while the other accused are on the run.

The woman, Ms Meeta, and her son, Kuki, (names changed) were kept naked for two days in a house in the colony and for another day in some other house. After failing to force rape on the victims, the grandfather of the girl, Tulsiram, allegedly tried to rape the old woman but the woman in confinement resisted the attempt successfully.

The family of the accused suspected that one of the sons of the widow, Sunil (name changed), had abducted their daughter Sunita about 15 days ago. The suspicion of the girl's family was based on the fact that Sunil had been missing since Sunita left home.

The family members of Sunita reached Kuki's house in search of Sunil but he was not found there, following which the family of the girl returned. Kuki then went to Jammu where his mother, two brothers and a sister lived, in search of Sunil. Kuki could not trace his brother.

The family members of the girl reached Jammu and forcibly picked up Kuki and his mother from Jammu. They were brought to Chandigarh on January 1 and kept naked in a locked room for two days. The room in which they were locked did not have any window and the door was in the rear, which was not noticeable. Their cries for help went unheard for two days in this house.

On Friday, they were shifted to another house where the door of the room had a small opening from where they could peep outside. When the duo saw a policeman patrolling the area at around 4 pm, they shouted for help and narrated their harrowing story to the policeman. The policeman found the door locked following which he called help. The lock of the house was broken in the presence of other police officials. Clothes were provided for the mother and the son and a case was registered.


Sunshine brings warmth to city
Tribune News Service


* Sunny day restricted to the city and its surrounding towns.
* Foggy conditions at other places in the region disrupt air, rail and road traffic; the Jet Airways flights to and from the city cancelled.
* Trains running several hours behind schedule.
* The maximum temperature recorded was 20°C and minimum 5°C

Chandigarh, January 6
After more than two weeks of foggy, cloudy and cold wave conditions, city residents today woke up to a bright and sunny day, bringing much-needed respite from the cold wave. The day-time temperature went up to 20°C.

Today's day-time temperature was the highest since December 16, when it was 22.6°C.

The clear weather was welcomed by students of local private schools, who joined their classes after the winter vacations.

The sunny day, failed to cheer the passengers travelling by air and rail as foggy conditions prevailed at other places in the region. Cloudy sky continued, at Ambala, Patiala and other towns in the region. Poor visibility led to trains running several hours behind schedule. The morning Shatabdi Express arrived an hour-and-a-half behind schedule, Kalka Mail was late by an hour and the Lucknow -Chandigarh train arrived three hours late.

Office-goers travelling by the Himalayan Queen could not reach office on time as the train was late by two hours Officials at the local railway station said due to the foggy conditions, the trains were running at a restricted speed. The evening Shatabdi Express and the Paschim Express were also running behind schedule.

The Chandigarh-Delhi flight of Jet Airways and the return flight were cancelled. The Indian Airlines flight to the city was delayed by three hours due to poor visibility at Delhi, said an official.

As the day progressed, it was time to rejoice for city residents. Uncertain about tomorrow's weather, everyone wanted to be under the bright sun. Many students preferred to cycle their way to school. Thick pullovers and warm shawls gave way to pullovers.

Working in offices was affected a number of employees preferred to enjoy the sunny day. The gachak, rewri and groundnut — symbolic of the festival of Lohri — reported brisk sales. Some preferred to travel to picnic spots in the adjoining areas in Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.

Though the minimum temperature was recorded at 5°C, the maximum temperature was recorded at around 2 pm. The clear weather could be a short phenomenon and it could be a foggy day tomorrow, said the Director of the regional office of the Meteorological Department, Mr S.C. Bhan. He said strong winds had led to the dispersing of the fog.

Meteorological officials said sunny day in the city was the result of local weather disturbances. Explaining the foggy phenomenon of the past few days, the officials said as the earth surface heated up, the fog was lifted, leading to a cloudy overcast sky, blocking the sunlight.

An analysis of the maximum and minimum temperatures recorded in the city since December 19 last revealed that today was the brightest day as the maximum temperature during this period was recorded at 17.8°C on December 23.

The trend in the minimum temperature remained the same, with the exception of December 29, last and January 2. The temperature was recorded at 1°C and 2.6°C on those two days, respectively.


Couple arrested for kidnapping Nepali boy
Police investigations begin
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, January 6
Following a two-hour blockage on the Mubarikpur-Dera Bassi stretch of the Ramgarh-Dera Bassi road by local residents and members of the Patiala unit of the Nepali Jan Adhikar Suraksha Samiti (NJASS), Bharat, a couple allegedly involved in the kidnapping of a Nepali boy, was arrested by the police this afternoon.

The couple — Rakesh Kharbanda and his wife Sonia — has been arrested on the charge of kidnapping Lura, a 10-year-old Nepali boy, to murder him. Case under Section 364 of the Indian Penal Code has been registered with the Dera Bassi police station in this regard.

Earlier, a large number of Mubarikpur villagers, and members of the village Mahila Mandal joined the Patiala unit of the NJASS, Bharat, and blocked the Ramgarh-Dera Bassi road adjacent to the office of the Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) in Mubarikpur village.

Vehicular traffic on the Dera Bassi-Mubarikpur stretch of the busy Dera Bassi-Mubarikpur road was disrupted for about two hours, thus putting scores of road users into great inconvenience.

The residents, including women folk of the village, assembled near the DSP’s office at about 1.30 pm and blocked the road. Demanding arrest of the couple involved in the Lura case and proper action against them, the protesters also raised slogans.

The protesters alleged that police was trying to hush up the case. They also demanded that both Rakesh Kharbanda and his wife be arrested and interrogated.

While talking to The Tribune, Mr Chittra Prasad Khanal, president of the Sub Regional Committee of the NJASS, Bharat, demanded a fair and independent enquiry to the case so that the actual picture is made clear.

‘‘Our organisation does not want to implicate any person in false cases but if the couple had intentionally done the act, we will not leave any stone unturned to get justice,’’ added Mr Khanal.

The protesters were pacified only after Mr Kulbhushan, in charge of Mubarikpur police post, brought 80-year-old Veero Devi, mother of Rakesh Kharbanda, to the spot.

When contacted Mr Manmohan Kumar Sharma, DSP, Dera Bassi, said that the couple had been arrested following agitation by the residents and the members of the NJASS, Patiala.

He, however, added that the police had started investigating the case in depth and claimed that the real picture would emerge soon. 


MC in dark over work distribution
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
The Municipal Corporation (MC) of the city has no work manual, which has caused peculiar situations in identifying the correct heads for distribution of work. This is more pertinent in matters relating to the financial aspect of managing corporation affairs.

The MC has taken serious cognisance of the fact that the existing rules are not clear about distribution of work between offices and officials. There is no manual which clarifies the job specifications for the Mayor and the councillors, besides the different officials concerned with the corporation.

The corporation has constituted a high-powered committee to prepare a manual of works to regulate the delegation of administrative and financial powers to the Mayor, councillors and other officials. The committee, chaired by Mr Pradeep Chhabra, Senior Deputy Mayor, also includes Ms Lalit Joshi, Ms Anu Chatrath, Mr Sohan Lal Vaid, Mr P.C. Sanghi, Ms Kamla Sharma, Ms Harpreet Kaur, Mr K.B. Sharma and Mr H.S. Sood.

The work areas include control and transparency in the sanctioning of the expenditure on works and exercise of financial powers by different officials in respect of administrative and technical approval of works.

A councillor said contractors were among the most affected parties. Their payments were often delayed because the papers shuffled between different offices. The issue was raised by Mr Sanghi, a councillor, and was discussed by the corporation at its last meeting.

Mr Sanghi, in a communication to the corporation, had pointed out that the regulations framed by the corporation did not specify the delegation of financial powers of sanction of expenditure on execution and maintenance of works, purchase of material (T and P) and other articles against provisions in the budget under plan and non-plan heads. He said he had discussed the issue with the Chief Auditor of the MC and he was unable to reply what norms were being followed in the corporation to this regard. The corporation had applied the norms of the engineering department at its inception because of its limited work. It had now multiplied manifold.

It had been pointed out that being a public utility service organisation, it needed more control and transparency in the sanction of the expenditure on works. There was also a need for transparency in exercise of financial powers by various officers of the corporation in respect of administrative approval of works, technical sanction of estimates, negotiations with contractors or firms, purchase of stores and extra items, acceptance of tenders, disposal of material, grant of extension of time and various forms of contingencies.

It had been pointed out that the Chandigarh Housing Board and various universities had delegated powers to its officials to a certain limit, beyond which these were exercised by different committees. The corporation had resolved to frame its manual to regulate the delegation of administrative and financial powers to the Mayor, the Commissioner, officials and committees.


Science Congress not a mela, say scientists
A.S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
Seminar halls are nearly empty while delegates bask in the weak sunshine on the lush green lawns outside on chilly days or go sightseeing with their families in the City Beautiful. This has provoked many to question the usefulness of big events like the 91st annual session of the Indian Science Congress currently underway at Chandigarh.

Why such a grand gathering of some of the top scientists from India and abroad, hosted jointly by Panjab University and IMTECH, at a cost of more than Rs 2 crore, has failed to attract the scientist as well as the common man has begun to bother them. Is the Indian Science Congress losing its relevance?

Prof Asis Datta“Not at all”, says Prof Asis Datta, President of the Indian Science Congress. “It remains as relevant as ever. The fact of the matter is that there is a growing realisation among the people that in times to come, science will dominate all aspects of human life. Gone are the days when different branches of science functioned in isolation. All disciplines are now merging into each other…physics into chemistry into biology into pharmacy into IT. Therefore, it will be interest of everybody to familiarise himself with the basic since.

Such a gathering, he says, also provides everybody with a chance to find his role model. For a child, meeting a Nobel laureate may be once in a lifetime opportunity. The Nobel Prize winner does not have to speak. His mere presence may be inspiring enough for many.

Prof Datta says that one of the main objective of the Science Congress is to create awareness among the general public about science. And this purpose is being achieved.

“No. Science Congress is not a mela. Delegates attending the session are attentive and good speakers, at the end of sessions, invite a good number of interesting questions from the audience. Many of them are even mobbed at the end of the session”, he says.

Dr M.S. SwaminathanDr M.S. Swaminathan, UNESCO Professor in Ecotechnology, M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, Chennai, and a former president of the Indian Science Congress, also defends it. He says that the Science Congress has two basic purposes: to promote public understanding of science, involve young people in science. And promote interdisciplinary discussions. These purposes are being served.

He concedes that in a large gathering like the one at the Chandigarh session, some people may be here for sightseeing alone. “But you will find such people everywhere. Even in the US where I have attended many such conferences.

The Science Congress is useful, and relevant in more ways that one. It not only helps people to help understand science and disseminate information about science, it also involves the young in science. In other words, it works as a catalyst in what the President, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam said, in “igniting the mind of the young”.

Dr G.S. Khush of the International Rice Research Institute, Manila, Philippines, says although he is not much involved in the Indian Science Congress, yet he has found the annual sessions to be relevant and useful. The quality of presentations is also very good. “But I am not sure about the follow-up action on them.

Dr K.N. PathakDr K.N. Pathak, Chief Patron of the 91st session of the Science Congress and Vice-Chancellor of Panjab University, is of the view that Science Congress will always remain relevant. Society should also know what the scientists are doing. Governments come and go come but the scientists remain. And they have no agenda other than science. He feels that if a scientist does not undertake research, he cannot be a good teacher. In the current session, one of the drawbacks he noticed was that physical sciences like chemistry, physics and mathematics had been largely left out. More emphasis has been laid in biology and biotechnology, maybe because the President of the Science Congress is from this discipline. He also feels that more popular lectures on different aspects of science should be organised on such occasions to which general public could be invited.


When experts spoke to empty chairs
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
Neither people nor governments of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh seem to have any interest in the issues of science and technology, biotechnology, and their implications for agriculture, health and other sectors for their economies if participation of government policy makers, research institutes, state universities and students is any indication.

The mega event of the Indian Science Congress, which is being held in the region after a gap of nine years, is attracting around 4000 scientists, intellectuals, policy makers and stake holders in science from all corners of the country, but very few persons from these states are attending the programme. The token presence of Punjab and Haryana can be felt only by visiting small stalls at the exhibition, organised as part of the event. The participants coming from other states wondered why students or scientists from the region were not present at the congress.

One of the journalists from the South, said, “Had the event been organised in Bangalore or Chennai, the crowds of students, NGOs and university teachers would have thronged the premises. It seems that the youth in this region are not interested in the science and technology at all.”

Renowned scientists like Gurdev Singh Khush, M.S. Swaminathan and Nobel laureate like Hartmut Michel are attending the five-day event to discuss the issues of ‘Using internet towards doubling per capita GDP in ten years,” New Frontiers in Biotechnology,” Science and evergreen revolution,” Women and Sustainable Development: Bio-technological Intervention’ and Biotechnology and Organic Farming.’

When Mr Swaminathan, a renowned agricultural scientist, began his lecture today by paying rich tributes to the contribution of Punjab farmers, researchers in green revolution, the participants seemed to be perturbed about the negligible presence of state agriculture scientists or policy makers. Mr Swaminathan emphasised the need for setting up genome clubs at the school and village level to create awareness about bio-technology and to launch ‘bio-happiness movement’ in the country.

He said, “ The North region, especially Punjab, has more stakes in the development of agriculture. If agriculture goes wrong in the region, nothing would go right in the country.” Alas! there was no one from the region to listen to his advice.

One of the organisers, on condition of anonymity, lamented that by declaring vacations in the colleges and the teaching departments, and by asking the hostelers to vacate their rooms, the university authorities have denied an opportunity to young students to attend the conference.

Some of the speakers also raised the issue that they had to deliver their lectures before empty chairs. At the main venue, the organisers have though made sitting arrangements for over 5,000 persons, but not more than 200 persons on an average were attending the sessions. They said, “ Besides, Punjabi hospitality we are also looking for young students and scientists interested to question our findings and their relevance for the society.” 


Stem cells to replace damaged ones soon
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
Parkinson’s disease and heart ailments would soon be a thing of the past going by the rapid strides science is making at a research centre in Pune on the generation of healthy cells which would replace damaged ones in a human body.

“We have already tested the replacement of damaged nerve cells in rat with healthy cells and it has been a successful experiment. The next step would be to try the same on humans using their stem cells. We are hopeful of giving positive results and some good news on the subject very soon,” informs Orissa-born scientist, Dr Nibedita Lenka, the brain behind the research. Recalling how the research project took off almost a year back, Dr Lenka, working at the National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS), Pune, informs,”I was intrigued about how a cell divides to make an organ and eventually the body takes shape. With that started my research on embryonic stem cells and one achievement led to another.

Gradually, my prime area of concern became the notorious heart muscle cells and the nerve cells, responsible for a lot of very common problems among people.”

The research aims at weeding out the damaged or degenerating nerve cells which affect the motor skills and movement, leading to Parkinson’s disease and those of the heart which are responsible for disrupting the rhythmic contractions.

“After accomplishing the mission on the rat model, we have started work on embryonic stem cells of the humans. By the end of this year the research on heart cells, too, would be completed. If, by substituting the bad cells with the good cells, we can regularise the expansion and contraction of the heart, the problems of the heart would be practically over. Once, cell generation and its replacement is achieved with regard to humans, we will be able to treat a number of other diseases,” she claims.


Opt for non-conventional energy sources,
says expert
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
 Dr S.K. Chopra “You might be cribbing whenever there is an increase in power tariff or petrol prices. But you can save a lot of money by opting for a lighting system and instruments running on non-conventional sources, like solar cooker, solar heating system and pump sets,” says Dr S.K. Chopra, Senior Adviser, Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources.

“India is fast emerging as a major world power in the field of non-conventional energy resources. With an installed capacity of over 4,000 MW non-conventional energy, this sector has already surpassed the nuclear power generation, and is now aiming for 10,000 MW of grid power capacity addition from renewable sources in the next few years,” he said.

Dr Chopra was in the city to participate in the Indian Science Congress. Talking to Chandigarh Tribune, he said India had already become the second-largest player in the installation of biogas plants and improved wood stoves, fourth in solar photovoltaic cells production and fifth in wind power generation.

He said despite public perception about the high pricing and low quality of these products, during the past four or five years, technological developments had brought down the cost of products by as much as 100 per cent. He said the cost of 1-watt photovoltaic cell had come down from $ 10 to around $ 3. A number of major industrial groups, like the Tatas, this entered this sector, resulting in lower costs and improvement in quality, he added.

He claimed that city residents could save crores annually by opting for solar heating, cooking and lighting system. He said, “People should understand that the prices of scarce conventional energy sources like petrol, diesel, coal and natural gas are increasing every year, but the cost of non-conventional sources is coming down very fast. By opting for this technology, they can help the country save foreign exchange as well, as we are spending over Rs 80,000 crore annually on oil.”

Explaining the benefits of different products at the exhibition stall, Mr S.S. Sekhon, Director, Punjab Energy Development Authority, said,” One can buy a solar cooker for just Rs 1,200 or a lighting system for just Rs 3,000, enough for a family.” He said people could take help from the department concerned to construct buildings which would utilise solar power for lighting and heating purposes, helping them save thousands every year on electricity bills.


Farmers can benefit from IT boom
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
Information technology can play a vital role in the dissemination of information for the upgradation of services in the agricultural sector. Farmers can far more benefit themselves than under the existing conditions if they have easier access to information regarding crop cultivation which can also be related to its selling in the market.

This was stated by Mr S Ramakrishnan, Executive Director of the Centre for Development of Advanced Computers in his keynote address at the symposium on “Genesis — Sustained Agrovision — Role of Frontier Science and Technology” here today. The symposium was organised as a part of the ongoing session of the Indian Science Congress.

Mr Ramakrishnan highlighted the use of the Internet in better understanding of crop cultivation patterns. Farmers could also enjoy the benefit of the online exhibitions and make use of the communication services for better comprehension of the market prices.

The keynote address was originally scheduled to be delivered by Dr M.S. Swaminathan, Justice O.P. Verma, Governor of Punjab, and Prof K.N. Pathak, Vice-Chancellor of Panjab University, were also not present at the inaugural session, as scheduled.

Prof Asis Datta, President of the ISC Association, said a scientist who had to make any path-breaking research needed to ask questions and challenge the systems”. “It appears that students now have very less questions to ask. Without a strong base in basic sciences, one can not think of any great results in the application branches”, Professor Datta added.

Dr Arvind Kapoor from Nunhems Seeds and Dr Anil Kakodkar, Secretary in the Department of Atomic Energy, also spoke.


Women’s session draws praise
Tribune News Service

Prof Kasturi Datta, Dr Mitali Mukherji, Dr Subhra Chakarborty and Dr Taruna Madan Gupta at the women’s session of the Indian Science Congress at Panjab University
(From left) Prof Kasturi Datta, Dr Mitali Mukherji, Dr Subhra Chakarborty and Dr Taruna Madan Gupta at the women’s session of the Indian Science Congress at Panjab University, Chandigarh, on Tuesday. — A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh, January 6
The women’s session, introduced during the ongoing Indian Science Congress, has come in for a lot of appreciation from women scientists.

Having presented a paper during the session, Dr Mitali Mukherji from Delhi was all praise for the idea.”Women scientists don’t generally attend such conferences because of family constraints. However, a special session is an incentive to present our work. I hope there will be more participants next time,” she said.

Dr Sangita Mukhopadhyay from Hyderabad said this special session had recognised the contribution of women to research and accorded them special status. “This is a welcome step and the platform the Science Congress provides compares to no other conference,” she said, though claiming that there were many women participating in the sectional sessions going on simultaneously.

Appreciating the move, the Director, Department of Biotechnology, Dr Renu Swarup, said,”I wish we did not have to have special sessions for women. It is not that women are not doing a commendable work. There are many women scientists who have been honoured for their research. This is a good beginning, though I hope they will come forward on their own next time.”

The President of the Indian Science Congress Association, Prof Asis Dutta, said the idea was to encourage women’s participation in the Science Congress.”We thought of holding a special session to recognise and highlight the research work that women scientists are doing,” he informed. All women scientists were honoured with mementos after the session. 


Session stresses on safe motherhood
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
The day belonged to women scientists at the on-going session of the Indian Science Congress at Panjab University today. Speakers at the session on “Women and sustainable development” emphasised on safe motherhood and empowering women.

Focusing on maternal mortality, Dr Asha Mathur of Saraswati Medical College, Lucknow, said the situation was especially alarming in rural areas which lacked proper medical care and the situation was aggravated due to illiteracy.

“High quality health services, ensuring presence of professionals for safe delivery and availability of emergency care are the basic requirements to check mortality. Educating women on family planning and improvement of social factor like alleviation of poverty and illiteracy are essential,” she added.

Stating that 98 per cent of women in Rajasthan were found anaemic in a survey conducted recently, Dr Gurjeewan Grewal of PGIMER said that two-third of Indian women were anaemic.

Specifying the iron requirements, Dr Grewal said an adult requires 30 mg of iron daily, while a pregnant and lactating mother requires 38 mg and 30 mg, respectively.

“It is important to involve women in scientific enterprise and make concerted efforts to bring her to the forefront. Women are driving agents and are responsible for 50 per cent food production and account for 90 per cent of the labour,” maintained the Director, Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, Dr Renu Swarup, on “Women and sustainable development: biotechnological intervention”. She highlighted the various schemes being run by her department for empowering women.


Children throng exhibition
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
It was children all the way at the Pride of India exhibition being organised as part of the 91st Indian Science Congress at Panjab University here today. The exhibition received an overwhelming response as groups of children from various schools visited various stalls.

For students from the Children’s Science Congress being held at IMTECH, Sector 39, besides those of St Soldier’s School and Bhavan Vidyalaya, Panchkula, the exhibition was both a learning opportunity and an outing.

“We have been reading a lot about the Science Congress and were eager to see it. The Hall of Pride in the exhibition was the best part,” said Rupali Sharma from Panchkula.

A large number of students showed great interest in the hand-paper and soap-making processes as well as organic farming. The tissue culture stall, put up by the Department of Biotechnology, with orchids on display, also invited a lot of interest.

For children from Government Primary School, Colony No. 5, it was a lifetime experience as they moved from one pavilion to another, showcasing the states’ march to progress. A student, Usha Rani, speaking on behalf of the rest, said, “We have never seen anything like this before though we don’t understand most of it. This is the first big exhibition we are visiting and our teachers have told us to move in groups and stay close by. The videophone at the BSNL stall was the best. We saw our picture also.”

After completing a round of the exhibition, school students and the public enjoyed the afternoon sun in the adjoining ground. Sales at the Vita stall, offering flavoured milk, fruit drinks and ice-creams, too, picked up.

“Since the exhibition began, this is the first day we have some sales to report. The cold weather conditions were costing us dear,” the man at the Vita counter claimed.

Touch screens on the formation of the universe and celestial bodies were a hit with the children as they queued up for their turn to witness the many wonders of science. There was a rush for the headphones. Delegates could be seen urging their children to move over and let others have a chance.

Though the headphones had only music playing, every visitor wanted to have the “real effect” complete with the music as they “travelled” through the galaxy. 


Solar super exhaust developed
A.S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Mr Suraj Parkash Sharma explains a point to a visitor at his stall at the Pride of India exhibition at the Indian Science Congress on the Panjab University campus in Chandigarh on Tuesday.
Mr Suraj Parkash Sharma explains a point to a visitor at his stall at the Pride of India exhibition at the Indian Science Congress on the Panjab University campus in Chandigarh on Tuesday. — A Tribune Photograph

Chandigarh, January 6
A 65-year-old building contractor of Chandigarh, Mr Suraj Parkash Sharma, has developed what is claimed to be world’s first solar super exhaust.

The innovation, which has recently been got patented by him, is designed to suck out indoor polluted, smoky, dusty, heated and stale air. “It also controls suffocation and provides freshness to the connected area”, says Mr Sharma, who has put up a small stall at the Pride of India exhibition at the ongoing 91st session of the Indian Science Congress.

Mr Sharma himself is not very well-read and has spent most of his life as a building contractor in the city. But what he has developed is based on experience.

“My solar exhaust works silently and continuously, powered by the energy of the sun. It can operate for some time even after sunset with the aid of the stored solar energy. It is also maintenance-free and an excellent alternative to expensive electric chimneys which are now being increasingly installed in kitchens of houses”, he says.

Explaining the method of operation, Mr Sharma says the exhaust is installed at a sunny spot on the rooftop of a building, vertically connecting it with a plastic pipe to draw out the air inside.

“It is a gift of a senior citizen of Chandigarh to all Indians. It can be most useful in hospitals, clinics, factories, workshops, banks, offices, showrooms, booths, kitchens, basements, public toilets, top floors, deep interiors, hotels, restaurants and all places of gatherings. And it costs just between Rs 1,200 and Rs 2,700 depending on the size, besides the installation charges,” he says.


Replica of CBSE building a big draw

Panchkula, January 6
The replica of the proposed CBSE building in Sector 5 here is a big draw at the ongoing 91st Indian Science Congress being held at Panjab University at Chandigarh.

According to a press note issued here today, the six-storey building, spread over an area of one-and-a-half acre is expected to be completed by June this year.

The state-of-the-art building, when completed will boast of conference and seminar halls, central call system, underground parking, automatic fire alarm system. It will also have rainwater harvesting and solar streetlight system. TNS


Western Command shooting team honoured
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
The Western Command shooting team, which bagged the National Combat Forces Shooting Championship, was felicitated for its performance by the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Command, Lieut-Gen S.S. Mehta, at Chandimandir yesterday.

General Mehta met each member of the team, comprising six officers. three JCOs and 53 other ranks, and exhorted them to continue striving for excellence and maintain high professional standards.

The GOC, Chetak Corps, Lieut-Gen Mohinder Puri was also present on the occasion. Briefing mediapersons, the GOC, Sudarshan Chakra Division, Major-Gen N.B. Singh said that the Western Command team had won the overall championship by beating Central Command by a margin of 31 points.

The event was held under the aegis of the Infantry School, Mhow, from December 25 to 28. A total of nine teams from the three services, Assam Rifles, the Border Security Force and the Central Reserve Police Force participated. The championship is totally different from regular shooting events because the shooters use service weapons instead of sporting weapons. The competitions are structured to test the skill of the shooters in combat-like situations, including precision shooting, firing at night and quick reaction in a hostage situation. INSAS rifles, light machine guns, carbines and 9mm pistols were used during the competition.

Besides lifting the Carnatic Infantry Memorial Gold Cup for overall performance, the team also won the Field Marshal Cariappa Cup for light machinegun firing, the General Bhandari Cup for sniper firing and the Gen K.V. Krishna Rao Combat Cup for precision firing. It also bagged the Army Rifle Association Banner.

In addition, the team bagged 19 gold, seven silver and two bronze medals. L.N. Bal Krishan and L.Nk Vinod won individual gold medals in rifle and light machine gun category, respectively. In sniper firing, Sepoy Naresh bagged the gold medal. The team was coached by Brig J.S. Rathore (retd) and Lieut-Col Navneet Chhabra.


Make Mohali crime-free zone, says Bir Devinder
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 6
The Deputy Speaker, Punjab and MLA Kharar, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, today called for Mohali to be made into a crime-free zone in Punjab. Mr Bir Devinder Singh  was speaking at a police-public meet organised by the police here today.

Mr Bir Devinder also flagged off six police vehicles, including four patrol Gypsies and an ambulance, as a New Year gift to the township. Stating that Mohali was on its way towards becoming a district, Mr Bir Devinder  said efforts should be made by the administration and the police to convert into a model city of Punjab.

The SSP Ropar, Mr S.P. Singh, assured the audience that the police would make allout efforts to help the public. “If anyone has any problem at any place at any time please call me on my mobile and we will try to assist you as soon as possible. My mobile number is 9815821000,”he said.

Stating that his effort was to surpass the Chandigarh Police in providing the best services to the residents, Mr S.P. Singh informed that he would have a camp office in Mohali in Phase IV where he would sit on Saturdays and Sundays. “ We will solve all passport verification-related problems and arms license etc. here in Mohali itself so that residents of the township do  not have to go to Ropar for small works.”

He said the police would not harass any resident or his family but violators of rules would not be spared.” The movement of the police in the township would be solely against the anti social elements no harm or harassment would ever be  done to any ordinary resident .” he assured.

The MLA in his address stated that the police needed to work on its image the most and develop more courteous habits. “Mohali is a novel city of Punjab and we are going to ensure that its has the best infrastructure, roads, schools etc. People living here should feel that they are leading a life of dignity, honour and peace and the police has a major role to play in this. The aim of the police is to provide a sense of security and if the police wants it, basic changes will be required in the policing system,” he pointed out. Mr Bir Devinder Singh also assured the residents that he would be available for them to solve any of their problems. Call me on my mobile number 9814033362 any time anyone requires assistance.” he said.  

This was the first meet organised by the new team of police officers who have been posted at Mohali following a precedent set by the former SP Mohali Mr. Harcharan Singh Bhullar. The meet was attended by all administrative officers of the township including the MC President, Mr. Kulwant Singh, the ACA PUDA, Mr Yashvir Mahajan and the SDM Mohali Mr M.L. Sharma. The SDM Kharar, Mr. H.S. Gill , a host of Mohali Municipal councilors, representatives of the various residents welfare associations and senior citizens were present at the meet.

Mr Kulwant Singh, Mr Gurmeet Singh, President of the Mohali Industries Association and Mr Baldev Singh Bains, President of the police welfare association highlighted some of the problems being faced by the residents.

The six vehicles which were flagged off today include an ambulance which will be manned by the police for catering to traffic accident victims but can be contacted for any emergency. The telephone number of the ambulance is 9815300090. 


Esha gets new lease of life
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
A task which seemed almost impossible six months back, has been accomplished as eight-year-old Esha, daughter of a vegetable vendor, is hale and hearty after a cardio-thoracic surgery at the PGI. The surgery was made possible with the help of generous public donations.

Had it not been for the overwhelming public response to an appeal for financial help made in The Tribune, Usha would have lost her third child Esha as well. Six months back, Usha and her husband Satnam Singh, landed up at the PGI with no money, as doctors told them that Rs 1.50 lakh would be required to perform the surgery.

Barely able to make both ends meet, they sought the media help and a news item for donations drew overwhelming response as almost Rs 3 lakh was collected. "A sum of Rs 1.50 lakh was collected at the PGI, while more than Rs 1 lakh was handed over to Esha's parents at their house in Sector 55," informed a PGI spokesperson. The additional money raised through donations is being used to help other poor patients of the PGI.

It was almost a month back that the complicated seven-hour surgery was performed by a team of doctors led by Prof R.S. Dhaliwal, head of cardiovascular and thoracic surgery. Esha will be discharged in a day or two as her stitches have healed up and her heart is functioning normally. The doctors have repaired her valve and the hole in her heart, which was proving to be life threatening.

Prior to the surgery, Esha had problem even walking and was forced to drop out of school. A Class III student of Green Jyoti Public School, Sector 55, she had constant fever, cough and body aches. "I can't wait to join school, though I will have to repeat Class III but at least now I can play with my friends," says a beaming and healthier looking Esha. She has put on two kg weight and is all praise for the doctors and nurses who dote on her and pamper her.

Doctors too are very happy with the fast recovery made by Esha, who started talking within two hours after her surgery. They say Esha can now lead an absolutely normal life as her heart has been repaired.


Visually-impaired activists try to enter Haryana Civil Secretariat
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, January 6
On the 100th day of their ongoing agitation, activists of the Haryana Netrahin Jagriti Sangh tried to force their entry into the Haryana Civil Secretariat here this afternoon. Security personnel had to literally drag the activists out of the Secretariat. However, the Chandigarh police did not arrest them this time.

Sources said as many as three visually-impaired activists managed to jump the gates of the Secretariat but were later removed by the security personnel deployed there.

More than 10 activists 'slyly' reached near the Secretariat gate at around 3.30 pm, started raising slogans and two of them jumped the gates. The security personnel were caught off guard. More forces had to be called in.

While the security personnel were busy removing the two agitators, another activist of the Sangh jumped the gates, said sources. After the personnel took control of the situation, the activists again started raising slogans. They were demanding an audience with the Haryana Chief Minister.

Later a representative of the Commissioner, Social Welfare Department, Haryana, came and told the Sangh members that the Commissioner would meet them tomorrow.

‘‘The Commissioner has called us tomorrow at 3 p.m.’’, confirmed Mr Jagjit Singh, general secretary of the Sangh. Besides other demands, the Sangh is demanding 1 per cent reservation in the government jobs. They are on agitation since September 29.


Slow progress on licensing of rickshaw-pullers
Sanjay Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
The effort of the Chandigarh police to ensure safety on the roads has got a setback as the Chandigarh Administration is believed to have gone slow on issuing licences to rickshaw-pullers.

“There are around 14,000 rickshaws in the city and only 1,000 of these are likely to have licences mandatory under laws,” sources told Chandigarh Tribune here today.

The licensing and training of rickshaw-pullers had been hampered as the Administration had reportedly stopped issuing rickshaw-pullers licences, fearing that they would claim rehabilitation later on.

Inquiries from the Chandigarh Administration revealed that it could not be sure of having issued licences to all rickshaw-pullers in the city. There was a common perception of a large number of accidents taking place because of lack of road safety sense in rickshaw-pullers and cyclists.

Three days of training was necessary for a rickshaw-puller to obtain a licence. If a licence was not obtained rickshaw-pullers could not be forced to undergo training from the traffic police, leaving them without a sense of road safety.

Another reason for the low rate of licensing was that police verification was necessary for a rickshaw-puller, which most of the migrants were afraid of. The police suspects that those who have migrated from outside the city after committing any crime will not come forward for this verification.

As per the relevant bylaw, a rickshaw-puller must have a licence, registration number and a rate chart, but it is beyond the control of the police to book them.

Separate uniforms have also been prescribed for rickshaw-pullers carrying goods or passengers, but it was not being enforced.

The worries of the police to enforce the law could be reduced by residents of the city as they had been authorised under the law to check licences and registration documents of rickshaw-pullers.

The police feels that if the citizens become awakened to checking licences, the intrusion of criminals camouflaging as rickshaw-pullers can be stopped.

The insistence of persons travelling by rickshaw to check licences could also ensure their safety because a licence-holder would have sufficient knowledge about road manners and safety, the police said. The Chandigarh police has been training rickshaw-pullers, but it cannot ensure that all rickshaw-pullers on the road are trained ones.

Considering the number of rickshaw-pullers, their political clout and the social factor of letting people eke out their living, it is required that a separate force is required to concentrate on rickshaw-pullers. The traffic police has a shortage of police personnel to do that.


Rickshaw-pullers get road safety tips
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, January 6
To educate rickshaw-pullers about rules of the road, a workshop-cum-lecture programme was organised by the traffic police on the second day of Road Safety Week.

Nearly 400 rickshaw-pullers were told the meaning of different road signs and maintenance of rickshaws. They were asked to use left lane on the roads, especially earmarked for slow-moving traffic. Inspector Chambel Singh and head constable Des Raj were the instructors at the programme.

Reflectors donated by the Rotary Club were fitted on rickshaws. The UT Red Cross donated blankets among rickshaw-pullers. Mr Nazir from the St John Ambulance Society presented a lecture-cum-demonstration on first aid.

Meanwhile, a large number of residents turned up at driving test being held at Plaza, Sector 17. More than 150 persons participated in the test regarding driving skills. 


Road users’ nightmare
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 6
Travelling on Madhya Marg from Chandigarh’s 26 Transport Chowk to the Sector 17-18 chowk here has become a nightmare. With thousands of vehicles passing on this stretch daily and the authorities turning a blind eye to the regulation of traffic, the road has turned into an accident-prone area, endangering precious lives.

A trip to this road during peak hours, from 8 a.m. to 10.30 a.m. and 5.30 p.m. to 9 p.m. during the past several days, has revealed a traffic jam-like situation. The residents of Mauli Jagran Complex, Indira Colony and Rajeev Colony, who crossed the road, make the situation worse.

A regular traveller and the president of the local Citizens’ Welfare Association, Mr S.K. Nayar, rues the fact that a solution to the problem has eluded the road users despite several reminders to the authorities concerned.

During evening hours, the unauthorised parking of “rehris” on the road leading towards the Sector 7-8 Madhya Marg and stopping of the vehicles on the road causes a lot of inconvenience to the road users. Demanding the conversion of the rotary separating Sectors 7,8,17 and 18 into a traffic light point, Dr S.K. Chhabra, president of the Panchkula Estate Welfare Association, Sector 7, says this will reduce the percentage of accidents in the city.

On the other hand, Mr M.S. Cheema, president of the House Owners-cum-Plot Holders’ Association, Sector 15, and Mr U.S. Sharma, president of the House Owners Welfare Association, have urged the authorities to regulate traffic during peak hours.


Cost-effective, speedy settlement provider
Nishikant Dwivedi

Chandigarh, January 6
If you are facing problems in getting your insurance claim or have a dispute with the telephone department or are not satisfied with services provided by the local hospital, you can take up the matter to the Permanent Lok Adalat for Public Utility Services (PLAPUS) functioning at Sector 17 for speedy and cost - effective settlement.

The PLAPUS has jurisdiction to take up the matter where the value of property in dispute is upto Rs 10 lakh and which are compoundable in nature. It has been set up by the State Legal Services Authority, Chandigarh, for taking up matters of public utility. The matters which are being taken up at the PLAPUS include transport service for passengers or goods, postal, telegraph and telephone services, supply of power, light or water facility to the public by any establishment, system of public conservancy or sanitation, service in hospital or dispensary, insurance service, housing and estate and also any other service, which the Central or state government, by notification, declare to be a public utility service.

At the PLAPUS, an attempt is made to resolve the matter with the mutual consent among rival parties. But if the parties do not agree to any mutual settlement, the PLAPUS will pronounce the award on the basis of pleadings and documentary evidence placed. The PLAPUS is functioning at the Electricity Grid Subdivision Station, SDO Office, Booths Exhibition Hall, Sector 17 (near overbridge) here.

‘‘The decision is based upon the principle of fair play, equity and natural justice and is not bound by provisions of code of the Civil Procedures, 1908, and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872’’, says Mr Parkash, Member Secretary, State Legal Services Authority, Chandigarh. He adds, ‘‘The decision of the lok adalat will be final, having no right of appeal to either of the parties’’.

Talking to Chandigarh Tribune today, Mr Parkash said an applicant approaching the PLAPUS would get speedy and cost - effective settlement of his dispute. By approaching the lok adalat, the applicant saved on court and lawyer fee and if an applicant so desired, he or she could be provided with a lawyer, he added.


Rural artisans in command at Gram Shree Mela
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
National Gram Shree Mela is all about the basics of Indian culture. In charge of affairs at about 40 occupied stalls at HUDA Grounds in Sector 5, Panchkula, are the rural artisans, who seem to know their country with their mind and heart.

No wonder they are salespersons extraordinaire. Not given to tact and trade, they talk about their products with honesty. That well explains the tremendous response which the mela drew on the very first day. The fair is being organised by the Council for Advancement of People's Action and Rural Technology (CAPART) an autonomous body functioning under the aegis of the Ministry of Rural Development. Its objective is to bring rural producers in direct contact with the urban consumers.

The fair began with small scale producers from nine states of India coming together to sell their earthy wares from humble outlets. The most frequented of all the stalls was the one put up by Uttranchal artisans, who were busy selling their glass creations. Jute and handloom work from Uttranchal is also on the display. Kashmir, with its rich Pashmina range, was favoured as always, along with Haryana, which had craftspersons selling candles, jute items, brasswork and handloom. Leather and food processing products from Himachal Pradesh also attracted a large crowd, so did the wood inlay and lacquer ware work by artisans from Hoshiarpur. Many times national award winner Tirath Sigh was in presence at this stall which was full of his own creations. Bihari artisans brought in a range of tussar silk products, along with exquisite tribal jewellery. The Rajasthan stall looked particularly appealing with its stock of namda work.

The exhibition, which has been organised with the aim of financially empowering the economically depressed sections, will be open till January 12 between 10 am and 8 pm.


Eco Notes
Admn nipping bug in the bud
Vishal Gulati

The mango mealy bug, commonly called gadheri, affects most of the trees in the City Beautiful.

According to a survey conducted by the Chandigarh Administration last year, it was found that most of the trees in Leisure Valley and Sectors 3, 4, 10, 16, 18 and 27 were affected by it.

Concerned over the menace, the Administration has decided to nip the bug in the bud.

Belonging to the family Coccidae, the bug starts its upward journey from the soil in November-December and returns to the soil in April-June. Between December and April, it stays on the tips of the trees to suck sap. It grows tenfold, from 1 mm to 1 cm. Last month, the Administration started the process to block its journey by wrapping alkathene (slippery) bands around trunks of trees.

Explaining the life cycle of the bug, Dr Satish Narula, Senior Extension Specialist (Horticulture), Punjab Agricultural University, whose office is in Chandigarh, says the bug lays eggs in April-June six inches below the soil near tree trunks. Thousands of nymphs, after hatching from eggs, start crawling towards tree tips. It attacks more than 60 species of trees and ornamental plants.

As the bug sucks only sap, it devitalises the tree. The yield of fruit-bearing trees is severely affected.

The bug releases a secretion that encourages sooty mould fungus. The male, reddish in colour, can fly, while the female, which is dull greyish white with a waxy body, cannot..

Dr Narula explains that the only way to control the menace is wrapping an alkathene band, 15-20 cm wide, around the trunk. Mud paste is applied at the lower edge of the sheet to prevent the bug from crawling up.


Release bonus, say Hafed staff
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 6
Demanding the release of bonus for the past two years, members of the Hafed Employees Union organised a rally in Sector 6 here today.

Addressing the rally, various speakers stressed the need for unity among the employees to force the government to release the bonus. Prominent among those, who spoke were Mr Umed Singh, Mr Satpal Singh, Mr Dharampal and Mr Munish Mittal, according to a press note.


Clinic has star patient
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
It was a normal day at Dr Rajdeep Singh’s dental clinic in Chandigarh till noted Bollywood actor Om Puri walked in for a routine check-up.

On a holiday to the City Beautiful with his family, the actor’s visit to the clinic was a pleasant surprise for Dr Rajdeep Singh. “It was on the recommendation of a family friend that Om Puri, accompanied by his wife, walked into our clinic to our pleasant surprise,” said Dr Rajdeep Singh.


Unemployed youth commits suicide
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
A 34-year-old unemployed youth of Ram Darbar, Antony, allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself last night. He is survived by his wife and three children.

Antony, alias Tony, of Ram Darbar Phase II was said to be under depression.

He was found hanging in his house today.


Hike octroi reserve price, demand Oppn councillors
Our Correspondent

Mohali, January 6
Councillors of the opposition group in the civic body here have said that the reserve price fixed for the work of octroi collection in the town is low and demanded that the amount should be increased to at least Rs 18 crore.

The controversial issue came up for discussion at a general body meeting of the Municipal Council here today. The contract for the work expired on December 31. The council has been compelled to collect octroi on its own as two attempts to again give the work on contract to private parties have not borne fruit.

The Deputy Director, Urban Local Bodies, Ludhiana, had fixed the octroi reserve price at Rs 19.09 crore. At the first auction held on December 19 only one bidder turned, but did not make any offer as he felt that the reserve price was too high. The second auction took place on December 26, but again none of the two bidders present made an offer.

Later the Deputy Director wrote to the Principal Secretary, Local Government, Punjab, suggesting a scaling down of the reserve price. The latter then reduced the amount to Rs 16.90 crore and directed the civic body to give the work on contract after giving wide publicity to the auction, which is now scheduled for January 15.

At the council meeting today Mr Manjit Singh Sethi and Mr Amrik Singh, councillors of the opposition group, said the new reserve price was unreasonable.

Mr Sethi later told mediapersons that the previous contractor had deposited Rs 17.40 crore with the council as octroi income and this time the reserve price should not be less than Rs 18 crore.

He told the House that it would be more beneficial if the council collected octroi at its own level. If the staff strength was inadequate, the council could engage persons on contract for octroi collection work. According to him, on the first three days of this month, the civic body collected an average of about Rs 4.50 lakh daily as octroi.

However, Mr Kulwant Singh, president of the council, said the civic body was not authorised to recruit staff on contract. Moreover, the higher authorities were of the opinion that octroi evasion increased when the collection work was done by the council.


10-day shopping festival
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
The city is all set to celebrate 50 years of its existence in a big way. A 10-day cultural extravaganza-cum-mega shopping festival is planned in Sector 17 which will help in showcasing Chandigarh in the year of its golden jubilee. The programme will start on April 4.

The Jewellers Promotion Council, Sector 17, has moved the proposal, which was accepted by the Administration.

The council plans to ask the cultural affairs departments of various states to send troupes to Chandigarh. 

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | National Capital |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |