C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


‘Stripped’ woman’s son feared dead
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 7
The family of a Janata Colony woman, who was allegedly stripped and humiliated, today feared that her son Deepak had been killed.

Her family claimed that Sunita, whose disappearance from her home on December 27 sparked off revenge against Deepak’s family, had been brought back from Srinagar.

The police, however, said it did not have any information regarding the return of the girl and the alleged killing of Deepak. A police officer said he had asked Deepak’s family to help trace Sunita to record her statement and find out the truth behind the incident.

The victim’s family claimed that Sunita was sent in hiding by her mother who was on the run, along with five other family members.

Sunita’s family had lodged a report of her disappearance with the Sector 11 police station on December 27. The family of Sunita suspected that Deepak was involved in the disappearance as both of them had not been seen in the locality since December 27.

The police is keeping a vigil on the two families to prevent any untoward incident.

The 75-year-old grandfather of Sunita and one other person remained in judicial custody while the others named in the FIR are missing.

The police said the woman who was allegedly stripped had been medically examined. The police today visited the locality twice to get a clue about the whereabouts of the family members of Sunita. A policeman said some children were in the house but all elders had disappeared.


Property worth lakhs destroyed in fire
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, January 7
Goods, including raw material and machinery worth lakhs of rupees were destroyed in a major fire that broke out in a plywood manufacturing industry along the Dera Bassi-Barwala road in Bhagwanpur village, about 6 km from here, last night.

There was, however, no loss of life in the fire that engulfed the board fabrication unit of the industry. Timely action by two security guards of the unit averted a major tragedy which could have claimed the lives of labourers working in the pressing unit of the factory.

Security guards Om Prakash Sharma and Ram Dev noticed flames and smoke emitting from the fabrication unit and informed Mr C.B. Sharma, Executive Director of the industry, who called the engines from Dera Bassi, Mohali, Rajpura and Chandigarh.

As many as 20 firemen with the help of seven fire engines extinguished the fire. The flames were so high that the roof, made of asbestos-sheets crashed after the iron cantilevers melted. With such high temperature the separation walls and concrete beams of the unit came down while the plaster peeled off.

After fighting for over seven hours, the firemen were able to control the fire.

Besides machinery and equipment, raw material and finished goods were reduced to ashes, Mr C.B. Sharma, claimed

Mr Avtar Singh, fire officer, Dera Bassi, said since the industry had started functioning in May, the fire hydrant and other fire extinguishers were not sufficient to overcome a major fire.

He said the loss could have been more had the fire spread to the adjacent unit and the raw wood lying in the open.

Mr C.B. Sharma said the machinery and material was insured and the exact loss could only be entertained after a survey by the insurance companies. The cause of the fire could not be ascertained so far.


Bravery awards presented
Nishikant Dwivedi

  • Mr Balwant Singh and his wife, Ms Jaswant Kaur, residents of Chandigarh, who have donated their body parts after death for research to the PGI, were jointly given the silver medal in Social Acts of Courage category from Punjab. The two have donated blood 38 times each and have collected 4,500 units of blood by organising blood donation camps.
  • A Panchkula resident, Mr Satyanarayan Gupta, won the silver medal in the Physical Bravery category from Haryana. On June 18 last, he saved a seven-year old boy from electrocution in Sector 18, Panchkula.
  • Meanwhile, Mr Hemant Goswami, Chairman of the Chandigarh-based Burning Brain Society, has criticised the Punjab Governor and UT Administrator Justice O.P. Verma, for participating in the function organised by Godfrey Philips India Limited, a cigarette company.

Chandigarh, January 7
A former Assistant Sub-Inspector of Punjab police, Mr Baljit Singh, 33, who is fighting environment pollution despite being his physical disability, was among the 13 persons who were given the 12th Red and White Bravery Award for Punjab and Haryana here this evening.

The awards were conferred in two categories — Physical Bravery and Social Acts of Courage. Shami Narang, a TV personality, while conducting the stage, said the awards were for “unique” men and women who emerged stronger under adversity, setting an example for others to follow.

Punjab Governor and UT Administrator Justice O.P. Verma presented the awards to the winners. The awards were instituted in 1990 by Godfrey Phillips India Limited.

Kartar Singh Lucky of Ludhiana was conferred with the gold medal posthumously in the Physical Bravery category from Punjab. On May 10 last, he entered a hosiery factory which was on fire to save the trapped workers. He saved four workers, but succumbed to the burn injuries he sustained during the rescue operation. On behalf of Kartar Singh, his widow accepted the medal and the prize.

A physically challenged student, Mukesh Kumar of Hisar, was presented with the gold medal in the Physical Bravery category from Haryana. On April 3 last, he put his life on stake to save a five-year old boy, who had strayed on to a railway track near Bhiwani railway station. The train was about to arrive when the boy was picked up by Mukesh, who sustained injuries.

In the Social Acts of Courage category from Haryana, Ms Urmila Sharma, President of the Haryana Mahila Mazdoor Sangathan, Jind, and a social worker for the last seven years, won the gold medal. Her activities included arranging free medical and legal facilities for the poor and widows. She has also arranged marriage of 15 poor girls.

The gold medal in the Social Acts of Courage category from Punjab went to Mr Prem Singh Bhutte. Mr Bhutte, a social worker, has engaged in the welfare, rehabilitation and community development of leprosy patients and elimination of leprosy from Chandigarh, Punjab and surrounding areas for the past 14 years.

Mr Baljit Singh was handicapped following a spinal ailment after two years of joining the Punjab police. Despite his physical disability, he is inclined towards environment conservation and has planted 60 trees in the past two years. Even planting trees is a challenging job for him. “I am not handicapped. It is just my body does not respond as per my wishes”, he said while talking Chandigarh Tribune. He added, ‘I had developed suicidal tendencies, but meditation helped. Today I am hopeful of a career in computers”. For his service towards environment conservation, he was conferred with the special award.

A panel of judges consisting of Ms Rupan Deol Bajaj, Principal Secretary, Transport, Punjab, and Air Commodore S.S. Tilloo, 12 Wing, Air Force Station, Chandigarh, ranked the nominations and selected winners from Punjab for the awards, For Haryana, Mr Sanjay Kothari, Secretary, Personnel, Haryana, and Mr Krishna Mohan, Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Public Relations, Haryana, were the judges.

List of winners — from Punjab — Physical Bravery: Late Kartar Singh (gold), Mr Rajesh Kumar, Mr Mandeep Singh, Mr Boota Singh and Ms Kiran, residents of Dallewal village, Phillaur, Jalandhar (silver); Mr Resham Lal Chhabara of Fazilka (bronze); Social Acts of Courage: Mr Prem Singh Bhutte (gold); Mr Balwant Singh and Ms Jaswant Kaur of Chandigarh (silver); and Mr Lakhbir Singh of Jallandhar (bronze); Mr Baljit Singh (special award); from Haryana —Physical Bravery: Mr Mukesh Kumar of Hisar (gold); Mr Satyanarayan Gupta of Panchkula (silver); Mr Ravi Prakash Verma (bronze); Social Acts of Courage: Ms Urmila Sharma (gold); Mr Rajiv Kumar of Karnal (silver); Mr Beer Singh of Fatehabad (bronze).


Mockery of an oath-taking ceremony
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 7
The oath-taking ceremony turned out be a mockery as the events unfolded in front of the newly-elected sarpanches and panches of the local village panchayats here today. The ceremony was over within minutes “much to the amusements of the elected representatives of 17 village panchayats of the Union Territory”.

The elected representatives were seated in the lawns of the UT Guest House. Mr Lalit Sharma, Adviser to the UT Administrator, administered the oath.

As many as 17 sarpanches and 145 panches were administered the oath. These included two sarpanches from the Scheduled Caste category, one from the Scheduled Caste women category and five women from the general category. The list of panches included 17 from Scheduled Caste, seven from the Scheduled Caste women category and 39 women from the general category. The elections were held on December 21.

Mr Kulwant Singh, a former sarpanch, said the elected representatives were not given the option of swearing-in in a medium of their choice (Punjabi, Hindi or English). The majority of the elected representatives were more comfortable in the Punjabi medium. This aspect was, however, totally neglected.

Mr Bhupinder Singh Badheri, Chairman of the Panchayat Samiti, said he was not invited at all. “ The administration infact does not give the due recognition to the village panchayats. I being the chairman of the samiti was naturally a bridge between the administration and the panchayats.”

Mr Badheri said” the oath-taking ceremony looked ridiculous because the representatives had not even finished taking the oath when the officers left the dais”.

Interestingly, panchayat members from ‘Dhanas’ village were late for the ceremony. Mr Badheri said “in routine, they were required to have been administered the oath in a separate ceremony. They were asked to sign papers of having been administered the oath which made a mockery of the entire exercise”.

A village sarpanch said the “the shoddy way in which the function was conducted was also the way the village panchayats were treated by the administration.”

Mrs Jasbir Kaur, sarpanch of Darua village, said the ceremony deserved more decency. “The sanitation was the biggest concern faced by the village. Storm water treatment needed attention for the disposal of dirty water which stagnated at various places. She also highlighted the problem of sewerage”, she added.

Mrs Mohinder Kaur, sarpanch of Palsora village, said improper water supply was the biggest problem faced by her village. The existing facility of only one tubewell was insufficient to meet even the current times. “Some time in the recent past when the system developed a snag people went without routine water supply for a week”, she said.

Mr Sukhjit Singh Sukha, sarpanch, Hallomajra village, said the area faced problems regarding improper supply of water and problems regarding the power supply in the area. The area also needed upgradation of its existing facilities in the school.

A UT official said “the ceremony had been carried out according to the agenda. The ceremony was scheduled as brief as possible. The elected representatives had the text of the oath in all three languages. They could have spoken in any”.


India set to create ‘i-grid complex’
A. S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 7
After developing a super computer, India is now working on creating an “i-grid complex” which will make the services of the super computer available in different parts of the country.

“We have already secured the approval of the government of India for creating such an i-grid”, said Mr Sanjay Razdan, member, Technical Staff of the Bangalore-based Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC). “We hope to start working on it shortly. Once completed, India will become the third country in the world after the USA and China to have an i-grid”.

A model of the super computer and its functions have been on display at the C-DAC stall at the Pride of India Exhibition at the 91st session of the Indian Science Congress on the Panjab University campus which concluded today and has been drawing a lot of curious visitors.

I-grid will obviate the need for a potential user to travel all the way to Bangalore to avail himself of the services offered by the super computer. He will be able to do so sitting right at his home by getting connecting with the super computer.

Basically, a super computer is nothing but a cluster of computers joined together in such a way as to tremendously enhance their processing power. The first super computer was developed by India a few years ago when the US government imposed sanctions on the export of hi-tech items to India and barred the sale of a Cray supercomputer to this country on the plea that it could be used by India to make calculations for nuclear explosions. India got round the sanctions by developing its own super computer.

Since then India has developed a series of super computers called Param 8000, Param 9000 and Param 10,000. Some time ago, India developed the next generation high performance scalable supercomputer, called Param Padma, with a peak computing power of one Teraflop i.e. one trillion bytes per second.

Mr Razdan says Param Padma has been benchmarked according to the international standards and is in no way inferior to any comparable supercomputer in the world. The supercomputer is used in the field of weather modelling, defence, especially air force, genetic engineering and seismic data processing, to name only a few.

Scientists may announce cure for diabetes
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 7
Indian scientists are all set to announce a cure for diabetes to the whole world. The answer to the disease has been found in a plant in the Purulia Hills of West Bengal and Dr S. Bhattacharya of the Indian Institute of Chemical Biology, Kolkata, and his team have developed a drug at their research centre.

“The drug — ‘ICB201’ — has been derived from a plant after we found that people in these hills treated diabetes with this plant which gave excellent results. We have completed our research on mice and the drug would be available in the market in a couple of years. However, clinical trials would begin shortly,” Dr Bhattacharya said, after delivering the B.C. Guha Memorial Award Lecture at the Indian Science Congress at Panjab University.

Claiming that the answer to ‘Type-II’ diabetes might have been found, he said that drugs available till now in the market only acted to lower fatty acid levels in blood. “Higher levels of fatty acids in blood reduce activity of insulin which causes diabetes. The drug only lowers this level of fatty acid. There is no drug available in the market to treat Type-II diabetes wherein glucose levels are higher than admissible limits,” he emphasised.

Unwilling to give out the name of the plant, he informed that the work on the drug started almost four years ago. Elaborating on the Type II diabetes, Dr Bhattacharya explained that inactive insulin was responsible for the disease. “This leads to a rise in the levels of glucose and is presently treated by giving insulin to patients. It differs from the Type I diabetes where patients suffer from deficiency of insulin.

Pointing out that patents were being filed for the “invention” of the drug by the Kolkotta institute, he said that the Type II diabetes also affected the heart and brain, including other organs of the body and accounted for almost 90 per cent of the diabetes cases reported.Back


Focus on turmeric and neem research, urges scientist
Tribune News Service

Dr Gourdas ChoudhuriChandigarh, January 7
Turmeric and neem hold maximum promise in herbal medicine in the coming years. Known to strengthen the immune system, both have research to prove they are efficacious in treating ailments.

While turmeric helps in tissue preservation, fastens the wound-healing process and hastens tissue regeneration to tackle ageing, neem improves glucose utilisation of the body, checking diabetes, according to Dr Gourdas Choudhuri from the Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow.

Speaking to the The Tribune on the last day of the 91st session of the Indian Science Congress at Panjab University, here today, Dr Choudhuri said that while a lot of research on turmeric and neem was going on at individual levels in small research laboratories, there was no concerted effort. “The findings have been substantiated by a number of laboratories. However, these have not been able to make any major impact only because it is a primarily scattered effort,” he claimed.

“It is high time we get our act together and announce these finding the world over. Interestingly, China, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong have taken the lead in doing so and are all set to capture the market unlike us,” he added.

Earlier, the Director of the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, Dr Ashok Misra, said for engineering graduates wanting to establish their own ventures, the IIT at Mumbai had launched a technology incubation programme.

“The objective is to translate knowledge into successful commercial ventures which would benefit the common man. Under the programme, students wishing to set up their own commercial ventures are required to summit a business plan to the institute, which will be scrutinised by experts, who will give the go-ahead. Once selected, the student gets the technical support from core IIT faculty to start the venture,” he informed.Back


Make science more interesting and innovative, urge students
Tribune News Service

Students who were awarded at the science congress at IMTECH in Chandigarh on Wednesday
Students who were awarded at the science congress at IMTECH in Chandigarh on Wednesday. — Tribune photos

Chandigarh, January 7
Students from across the country have sought the help of scientists in making science a more innovative and interesting subject. The students who are participating in the Students Science Congress at the Institute of Microbial Technology (IMTECH), made this request at an interactive session with the scientists here today.

They said the science faculty should move out of research laboratories and visit educational institutions to interact with the students, especially in the rural areas.

The two-hour interactive saw the students asking questions ranging from genome theory to research on ageing to the use of science in improving the professional skills. The questions were taken by a panel of scientists headed by Prof H.V. Mohan Ram, Dr S.B. Ramchari, Dr E. Stackebrand and Mr Ashok Sahni.

The students whose exhibits were on display at the science congress protested that the exhibits were not seen by eminent scientists.

Dr Bachawat, a scientist from IMTECH, sought the view of the students about the ways in which the scientists could make science exciting for them.

Arjun of St John’s High School said science was an art and it was wrong to confine it to the classroom. He drew the attention of the scientists towards lack of learning avenues for the students in the rural areas. He said the teachers should listen to the students.

Some students said there should be a session for teachers at the science congress. Mr Ramakrishna, a scientist from Hyderabad, said the scientists should visit schools.

Mrs Ruplai, another participant, said basic learning should be made simple and practical. Nishant of Government Model Senior Secondary School (Sector 16), said the methodology to teach science should be changed.

For Prashant Tambey, ClassVIII student from Hyderabad, said there was a communication gap between the students and the scientists. He said topics related to the students needed to be discussed thoroughly at the interactive session.

Kraviteg from Hyderabad, said it was a great experience and helped the students learn certain fundamental theories of science.

Prof Ram, Chairman of the organising committee, said about 300 students from 24 states participated in the five-day science congress. Two students each from each district of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir participated in the event. The participants were selected on the basis of certain evaluation parametres. The students had a chance to listen to Dr Bruce Albretrs, President of the US National Academy of Sciences and yesterday, the students saw a demonstration by Mr Narinder Nayak on the tricks performed by “godmen”.

At the end of the concluding function, the students were given a questionnaire.

The host IMTECH had dedicated its exhibition stall to Kalpana Chawla and Louis Pasteur, the brain behind the development of the anti-rabies vaccine. The photographs of Kalpana were contributed by Ms Anjali Chawla, Kalpana’s sister-in-law, the NASA and the ISRO. The pictures of Pasteur were contributed by the local chapter of the Alliance Francaise.


Work on President’s dream, young scientists urged
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Some of the recipients of the Young Scientist Award of the Indian Science Congress
Some of the recipients of the Young Scientist Award of the Indian Science Congress at the valedictory session in Chandigarh on Wednesday. — A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh, January 7
The five-day Indian Science Congress (ISC) concluded here today with a call to young scientists of India to work on developing cutting-edge technologies in the field of biotechnology, agriculture, pharmacy, lifestyle diseases and public health that would help India become a developed country by 2020, as visualised by the President of India.

The next science congress would be held in Ahmedabad next year under the stewardship of Dr N.K.Ganguly, Director-General, Indian Council of Medical Research. The general body meeting of the congress also agreed on the thrust areas of the Indian science for the next decade that would include technology for improving environment, uplift of pharma industry, Indian vaccine industry, traditional medicinal resources, lifestyle diseases, tackling IPR issues on health and innovative financing for health needs. Other areas of thrust would include technologies for improving performance of Indian sportsmen, aviation and space scientists.

In his valedictory session, Prof Asis Datta, outgoing president of the ISC, emphasised on industry-university-science institutions’ collaboration to develop indigenous technologies that would put India on a high development trajectory. Earlier, he said, “India is on the verge of introducing genetically modified potato that will revolutionise Indian agriculture. Field trials have been conducted successfully and the national committee on GM crops is likely to give clearance for its cultivation shortly. Unlike imported Bt cotton, it will be a totally indigenously produced variety and will put Indian science on the world map”.

Appreciating the contribution of the Panjab University authorities to organise the science congress, he said, “The scientific community of the region will be encouraged by the event and will strive hard to achive excellence in their area of work”.

Prof K.N. Pathak, Vice-Chancellor, Panjab University, in his address, said, “Hosting of the Indian Science Congress has helped the university gain goodwill in the science community. It will also encourage the young scientists to work hard”.

On this occasion, Young Scientist Awards were conferred on 24 scientists in 14 categories. It included three scientists from Panjab University — Ms Shashi Kad from the Geology Department, Mr Harminder Pal Singh, Centre for Vocational and Environmental Studies, Department of Botany, Mr Amrit Pal Singh, research scholar, Department of Mathematics, besides Ms Shalomoli Bhattacharyya, Department of Experimental Medicine and Biotechnology, PGIMER.


Science expo draws kids
Tribune News Service

Students try out a videophone at the BSNL counter
Students try out a videophone at the BSNL counter at the science exhibition at Panjab University in Chandigarh on Wednesday. — Tribune photo Manoj Mahajan

Chandigarh, January 7
Schoolchildren continued to pour in at the“ Pride of India” exhibition organised as a part of the 91st session of the Indian Science Congress at Panjab University here today.

The students were attracted to touch screens, videophones and satellite models on display at the exhibition.

In the “Hall of Pride,” the students were given an insight into the lives of great scientists like Sir J.C. Bose, Dr Homi J. Bhabha and Prof G.N. Ramachandran. The pavilion captured the glimpses of their struggle and subsequent success.

In the “Best of States”, the models of parks and buildings under construction by various Public Works Departments were the attraction. Back


Project to improve avalanche forecast
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 7
The Snow and Avalanche Studies Establishment (SASE) here has initiated a project to substantially enhance its capabilities for forecasting avalanches and removing hazards in the Himalayan belt. The project would have immense benefits for the Army as it would help commanders based in snow bound areas to plan ahead.

Sources in SASE told The Tribune that they were developing methods to enable them issue warnings about impending avalanches up to four days in advance. Presently, SASE is providing forecasts for 24 hours. SASE is a Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) laboratory and is engaged in providing avalanche warnings to the armed forces as well as specific civilian organisations based in the snow-bound areas.

“We are devising various models to help predict an avalanche up to 96 hours in advance,” a senior SASE scientist said. “While our 24-hour forecasts have proved to be extremely reliable, the accuracy of forecasts for 72 and 96 hours will correspondingly decrease to some extent,” he added.

SASE’s capability to provide avalanche warnings a few days in advance would be extremely beneficial for the Army, both operationally as well as administratively.

“Our job is to make the life of troops in the snow-bound areas easier,” the scientist said. “It will give commanders more time to plan out movements and other activities,” he added.

SASE sources said that this project was one of its own kind in the world. “A number of organisations around the world are working in this direction, but the purpose is not only military application,” a senior SASE functionary said.

“Models to predict avalanches beyond a 24-hour period are being developed in countries like Switzerland. However, they are doing it from the tourism point of view, for us it is the survival of our troops,” he added.

Data generated from a vast network of unmanned automatic weather stations, upper air as well as surface observatories established by SASE is being used to devise models for avalanche forecast. Data for the purpose is also being received for remote sensing images and satellite pictures as well as from the India Meteorological Department.

A data bank of snow-meteorological parameters of various high altitude regions has also been compiled.

The thrust on mountain meteorology received an impetus in the aftermath of the Kargil conflict in 1999, when the Army deployed additional troops along the Line of Control.

The Dras-Kargil axis in Jammu and Kashmir, which witnessed the most decisive battles during the conflict, has some of the most difficult terrains in the world, with peaks as high as 18,000 feet.

The area, as well as certain approaches to it, is also prone to avalanches and landslides.


Suspect in ‘child torture’ case hospitalised
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, January 7
The abduction case of a Nepalese boy took a new turn after Rakesh Kharbanda, a suspect, reportedly had a heart attack soon after his arrest by the police this afternoon. He was taken to the Civil Hospital in Dera Bassi and later referred to Government Medical College and Hospital, (Sector 32) in Chandigarh. His wife Sonia has been permitted to accompany him to the hospital as an assistant.

Rakesh Kharbanda and Sonia — were arrested on the charge of abducting Lura, a 10-year-old Nepalese, with a view to allegedly sacrificing him. The duo were nabbed by the police only after residents of Mubarikpur village and members of the Patiala unit of the Nepali Jan Adhikar Suraksha Samiti, Bharat, blocked the Ramgarh-Dera Bassi road adjacent to the office of the DSP at Mubarikpur village last afternoon in this regard.

The residents have said certain tantriks active in the area should be taken into police custody and be interrogated for instigating people to commit such acts.


Mohali to be major IT Centre: CM
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 7
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh today said that Mohali was bound to emerge as a centre of excellence for the IT industry in north India as a number of top multi-national companies across the globe had evinced keen interest to choose it as their destination for investment.

Addressing a public function at Government College, Mohali, Captain Amarinder Singh said industrial growth was directly linked to excellent infrastructure, uninterrupted power supply, harmonious labour relations and better connectivity through roads and bridges and all these factors were available in Punjab due to the concerted efforts of the government to ensure economic stability and clean governance to the prospective entrepreneurs.

He announced that an ambitious plan to impart computer education to students of Government Schools in Punjab had been drawn up in collaboration with Microsoft, USA, to enable government school students to compete with the students of public schools. ‘‘If this plan comes through, all government school students from Class VI onwards will be computer literate by the time they pass out. The sooner we realise that the future of students without equipping them with adequate computer education was bleak, the better it will be,’’ he said.

The Chief Minister said the state government was committed to the overall development of the state especially focusing on the power sector. He said a high-powered committee on power reforms had recently approved the commissioning of Shahpur Kandi Power Project besides Lehra Mohabat Thermal Plant Phase II with an additional capacity of 500 MW. Both these projects would boost the prospects of industrialisation besides attaining self-reliance in power supply in the state.

Informing the audience about the government’s plans to combat the problem of unemployment in the state, Captain Amarinder Singh said that the Punjab Government had recently singed an MoU with Quark — a USA-based multinational company to set up an information technology park spreading over an area of 5000 acre near Ropar with an employment potential of 1 lakh jobs for Punjabis. He also stressed the need for quality education, including equipping educational institutions with IT to enable Punjabi students to compete globally.

Referring to the demand for the rehabilitation of employees of Punwire, Captain Amarinder Singh said he had already constituted a core group under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary but unfortunately no tangible progress had been made so far in this case due to the brief stints of earlier chief secretaries but now he was quite confident that the new incumbent would tackle this issue on the priority to the advantage of the affected employees.

Regarding the issue of Punjab Capital Periphery Control Act, 1952, affecting the residents within the periphery of 22 km of Chandigarh, the Chief Minister said a core group had already been formed to sort out this issue amicably. He said that the approval of Union Government was mandatory to relax certain norms and provisions under the said Act. “Once the state government receives the report of the core group it would approach the Centre immediately in this behalf”, he said.Back



CM lays foundation stone of student centre
Tribune News Service

The Punjab Chief Minister today inaugurated the high-level bridge across Patiala ki Rao Nadhi at Chandigarh-Ropar section of the National Highway No.21, dedicating it to people of Punjab. The 118.45 metre bridge constructed at the cost of Rs 3.59 crore by PIDB, has been built to ease the bottleneck for the smooth movement of traffic. The existing bridge shall be upgraded under the present project after the diversion of traffic flow to the new bridge. Mr Pratap Singh Bajwa, PWD Minister, Punjab, along with Mrs Vinni Mahajan from PIDB were present at the function.

Mohali, January 7
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today laid the foundation stone of the Student Centre at Government College here. He announced that the completion of the college structure would be his responsibility and he would ensure that the Rs 10 crore needed for the purpose were arranged forthwith.

Captain Amarinder Singh also announced the setting up of a state of the art computer laboratory in the college by installing 20 computers under the aegis of Department of Information & Technology from his discretionary funds.

Giving details, the Chief Minister informed that the Rs 35 lakh Student Centre would be constructed as per the latest design and specifications by the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB) within a stipulated time. According to the plans, the student centre would be a two-storey building spread over 3600 square feet. While the ground floor would have two separate canteens for the students and the staff along with a kitchen etc the upper floor would have a hall.

The Chief Minister has referred the case of the completion of the college complex to the Principal Secretary Education, Ms Kusumjit Sidhu. He has sought a report from her recommending the allocation of the Rs 10 Crore required to complete the college complex both from the state government and UGC as per the norms. The building of the college had been lying incomplete for over five years now and despite having been planned as a big educational centre in Punjab, complete with an open air theatre and an auditorium, the infrastructure in the college is in bad shape. Even the main academic block is incomplete. In the main buildings only two out of the four storeys planned are built and in the laboratory wing, only one of the four storeys is built.

Among those present at the function included Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, M.P. Ropar, Mrs Seema Jain, DC, Ropar, Mr M.L. Sharma, SDM, Mohali, Mr H.S. Gill, SDM, Kharar, Mr S.P Singh, SSP, Ropar, Mr Kulwant Singh, President, MC Mohali and Mr Harpreet Singh, DSP, Mohali.

In his speech, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo highlighted the problems of the area and underlined the need to bring remedial changes and improvements in the functioning of the government schools plagued with chronic absenteeism, heavy dropout rate at the primary level and dilapidated buildings. He also showed his deep concern over the growing menace of drug addiction and called for a multi-pronged strategy to tackle the same through the participation of volunteer organisations and NGOs. He announced a grant of Rs 5 lakh from MP Local Area Development funds for the construction of open air theatre in the college.

The college principal was also present on the occasion. The stage was conducted by noted dramatist Mr Atamjit Singh, a lecturer at the college. The college students presented a colourful giddha and bhangra on the occasion.Back


Chinese delegation to visit Mohali
Our Correspondent

Mohali, January 7
A seven-member Chinese delegation from the Jiangsu Provincial Department of Education (J PDE), will be reaching here on January 11, on an invitation from the Punjab School Education Board under the educational cooperation programme.

Mr Mohinder Bir Singh, Secretary, of the board said here today that the visit followed the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Punjab team and authorities of the JPDE in China on September 21 last year. He said the delegates would be shown various schools in the state and a meeting would be held for exchange of views in order to bring about an improvement in education.

Ms Veena Dada, Nodal Officer for the educational cooperation programme, said a proposal on teacher and student exchange programme would be presented at a meeting with the delegates and efforts would be made to get another MoU signed in this regard.

She said the purpose of the visit of the Chinese delegation was to understand the education system, have a general idea of the basic education in Punjab and probe into the possible fields in which cooperation between schools in Jiangsu and Punjab could be developed.

She said some local schools affiliated to the board would be shown to the Chinese delegates, including the Government Senior Secondary School, Phase III B1, on January 12 and 13. They would also be taken to Chandigarh for sight seeing. January 14 and 15 have been kept for visits to Phagwara, Amritsar and Jalandhar. The delegates would be shown one school at Phagwara and two schools in Amritsar. They would also be taken to Golden Temple and Wagah border. On January 16 they would be taken to Patiala where they would be shown a polytechnic and a school after which sight seeing would be done. The board would also organise a cultural programme for them.

The purpose of the MoU on educational cooperation included regular mutual visits of educational administrators and school managers, partnership between schools to encourage exchange of letters, audio-visual material between schools in Punjab and Jiangsu and organising joint educational activities like international conferences, seminars, study tours and other exchanges.

The members of the delegation are Mr Ge Gaolin, Deputy Director-General of JPDE, Mr Zhou Jiahua, Director of School Affairs Committee of Jiangsu Institute of Economic & Trade Technology, Mr Yin Tianran, senior officer of Division for Basic Education, JPDE, Ms Cao Meizhen, Director of School Affairs Committee of Ninjing Teachers’ College Affiliated Middle School; Ms Qian Jinxia, Vice-Principal of Suzhour Midu Middle School; Ms Zou Ping, Principal of Wuxi Shibei Middle School, and Ms Shi Yunyu, Project Coordinator and Interpretor of Division for International Cooperation and Exchange, JPDE.Back


Lectures on ‘first parkash’ on Guru Granth Sahib
Our Correspondent

Mohali, January 7
The Punjab School Education Board is organising a series of lectures in connection with the fourth centenary of first parkash of Guru Granth Sahib. The first lecture in the series is being delivered tomorrow.

Dr Kehar Singh, Chairman of the board, said the first lecture on “Interface of different faiths and Guru Granth Sahib” will be delivered by Dr Rajwant Singh, Director, Guru Gobind Singh Foundation, Washington DC, USA, in the auditorium of the board. Prof Manjit Singh, former Jathedar, Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib, would be presiding.

The Chairman said the board would also be constructing multi-purpose halls in connection with the third centenary of the four Sahibzadas of Guru Gobind Singh. The halls would be constructed in Adarsh schools being run by the board. A sum of about Rs 50 lakh would be spent on the construction of these halls.


Honour for Vedant engineers
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 7
Texas Instruments, a USA-based global giant in microelectronics, has selected chip design engineers from VEDANT of Semiconductor Complex Ltd here during campus recruitment. This is first ever time that a company of international acclaim conducted campus interviews and selected a large number of students.

Manager, Semi Conductor Complex Ltd., Mr Parveen Bhangotra said with the entry of several major multinational companies in India, the growth prospects of chip design industry and designers or VLSI engineers (very large scale integration) are rated very high. “Moreover, most of the companies these days are preferring VLSI trained engineers instead of fresh electronic engineers in order to save their time and money, thereby leading to a major increase in the demand for chip design engineers,” he said.

‘‘Other than Texas, several other international companies have shown keen interest in recruiting students from VEDANT”, informed Mr Sohan Singh Dhami, Course Director of VEDANT. “This achievement is the result of the dedication of Vedant’s entire team, especially the professional faculty of SCL. They have proved it again that SCL is a pioneer in the field of VLSI Technology, including designing, fabrication, packaging and training”, he said.

During their visit to SCL, the Texas team also expressed interest in training and infrastructure facilities available at SCL and discussed the scope of corporate –industry interaction and possible areas where such collaborative efforts could be mutually gainful.


Cold claims two more lives

Chandigarh, January 7
The sweeping cold wave in its third week in the north-west region has claimed a life each in Punjab and Haryana during the past 24 hours, taking the toll to at least 70 since the onset of winter, while people in the border district of Amritsar reeled under 1.6°C temperature, two degrees below normal.

At least 50 persons have died in road accidents during heavy fog and another nine were swept away by an avalanche in the far-flung area of Jammu and Kashmir. The deaths of beggars were reported from Amritsar and Ambala.

Foggy conditions elsewhere in the region continued to play spoilsport with air and rail services. The to and fro Jet Airways flight was again cancelled today while the Indian Airlines to and fro Mumbai-Delhi flight landed three hours behind schedule here. The weekly Chandigarh-Leh flight today, too, was delayed due to fog in the morning.

Most of the trains emanating from Delhi and New Delhi were delayed by varying periods because of poor visibility en route. — UNI


Disabled soldier fights for leave encashment
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 7
Two years after Army Headquarters backtracked from its stance that a disabled ex-serviceman was not entitled to leave encashment, the affected soldier, Naik Gurbax Singh Tung, continues to run from pillar to post to get his dues released.

Tung, a resident of Jagraon, had been discharged from the Army on medical grounds in August, 2000. He had accumulated leave for 240 days during his service with the Army Ordnance Corps (AOC).

After being boarded out, he was, however, denied leave encashment. He wrote to the Adjutant General’s Branch at Army Headquarters as well as the Controller of Defence Accounts and the AOC Centre, seeking release of his dues.

Army Headquarters wrote back, saying that since he was discharged on medical grounds he was not entitled for leave encashment. His case was then taken up by the Ex-servicemen’s Grievances Cell at Mohali, which wrote again to Army Headquarters seeking regulations under which leave encashment was being denied to the disabled ex-serviceman.

Army Headquarters thereafter backtracked from its earlier stance and wrote back to the grievance cell that a defence personnel on disability pension with less than 17 years’ of service is permitted to encash leave only up to 225 days. The Army letter also states that the Adjutant General’s Branch has taken up a case with the Defence Ministry to amend the rules restricting leave encashment to disabled soldiers.


Faux pas in house tax bills
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 7
Can a bill dated January 8 be delivered on January 7? The answer may be in the negative but the local Municipal Council(MC) has performed this feat.

It has despatched a number of house tax bills to residents of Sector 11 asking them to deposit the tax within 30 days of the receipt bill to avail 10 per cent discount. One of the residents even received the bill on January 6.

A resident, Mr Om Prakash, was surprised to receive the bill before the printed date saying that it should have come atleast a couple of days later. Residents say that the civic body should show such a haste in providing various civic amenities in the township.


Readers Write
Firms continue to dupe customers

Apropos of news item “Reliance customers allege harassment” that featured in your columns, it is indeed shocking to learn that gullible residents of Solan have yet again been taken for a ride and this time by Reliance India Mobile. I had planned to subscribe to its services and made enquiry at their counter regarding their mobile phone services. But somehow I refrained from going ahead with the subscription. Mr R.K. Sharma of the Dr Y.S. Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, Nauni, who has been quoted by your reporter in the report, happens to be an acquaintance of mine. He advised me to stay away from availing of the facility.

In the past too, local people have been duped of lakhs of rupees by fly-by-night finance and other companies. The memories of Gemini Household Complex Scam are still fresh in people’s minds when they were duped of around Rs 50 lakh.

And all this is happening right under the nose of the administration, which chooses not to be vigilant perhaps.

B.M. Puri, Solan

Reduce number of higher posts

This is in reference to news item “CTU fares to go up” in your columns in which it was stated that the UT Administration had decided to raise CTU bus fares from December 16, 2003. On the one hand the Chandigarh Administration is raising bus fares, on the other it is taking no steps to effect economy measures for which the Prime Minister and Union Finance Ministry have given directions. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had given directions to the UT Administration to cut higher posts by 10 per cent. These directions have neither been compiled with by the former Administrator, Lieut-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), nor by the present Administrator, Justice O.P. Verma.

The first Chief Commissioner of Chandigarh, late M.S. Randhawa, never visited public functions with escort cars. He had a very limited personal staff — only one private secretary and two clerks. But the present Adviser to the Administrator has a strong personal staff. Lieut-General Jacob used to visit public functions in a motorcade, the expenses of which had to be borne by the administration.

The Governor of the erstwhile Punjab, which comprised the present Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab province in Pakistan, used to visit public functions in just one car with a motor cycle escort. But the present Governor of Punjab and UT Administrator can be seen travelling with a fleet of cars. The Governor during British rule had with him only one ADC, but the present Governor has three ADCs, besides personal staff.

The need of the hour is to reduce the number of higher posts, which will save a lot of public money. However, nothing is being done in this direction and even the directions of the Prime Minister are not being followed.

Narinder Singh ‘International’, Chandigarh


City has 5,400 stray dogs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 7
It is official. The city has 5400 stray dogs and 4367 stray cattle. A report of the 17th Livestock Census in Chandigarh was relased by the Director Animal Husbandary, Mr Dalip Kumar, today. Also as per the figures there are 30,140 bovines and 8550 domestic dogs in the city.

The census was released when the Animal Husbandry Department started of a free ‘mass vaccination drive’ at Government Veterinary Hospital, Sector 22, here today. The drive has been started to eradicate contagious diseases such as rabies in dogs, foot and mouth disease in cattle and Haemorregic septecimia commonly found in buffaloes. On the inaugural day around 65 dogs, including 15 stray dogs, were immunised against rabies.

The special vaccination drive for animals will be carried out till January 15, 2004, in all veterinary hospitals and dispensaries with the coordination of non-governmental animal welfare organisations like the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty Against Animals and People for Animals.

The Joint Secretary Finance-cum-Director Animal Husbandry, Mr Dalip Kumar inaugurated the drive.

The Director Animals Husbandry urged people to come forward to take the benefit of the free mass vaccination and said that the Chandigarh Administration had launched this noble work to cover all villages and urban areas first time in the city with 100 per cent central assistance. As many as five veterinary doctors, 16 dispensers and other volunteers have been pressed into service to achieve the desired results.

The officer in charge, Animal Husbandry, Dr R. C. Garg called upon the residents to get immunised their domestic dogs, stray dogs and cattle against the dreaded disease.


2 sambhars die in road mishaps
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 7
As many as two sambhars died in two separate road accidents in the district last night.

According to wildlife sources, a female sambhar was crushed to death on the Ambala-Kalka highway near Amaravati Enclave. In another incident, a male sambhar died on near Damala village on the Pinjore-Nalagarh road.

A wildlife inspector, Mr Sada Nand, said he spotted the mutilated bodies of the sambhar around 8 a.m. today. The bodies of the dead animals were taken to the Veterinery Hospital at Pinjore where a post-mortem was conducted.

It may be recalled that there had been a number of incidents of sambhars straying from the Shivaliks to the plain area in the recent past. 


Urs from today
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, January 7
District Muslim Welfare and the Roza Committee is organising annual urs of Hazrat Hafiz Mohammad Musa Chisti Sabri for two days from January 8 at Manakpur village.

According to president Mangat Khan and senior member of the Roza Committee Ilam Din, a cultural programme will also be presented by singers and quawals from Punjab, Haryana, UP and Himachal Pradesh. 


Three held for cruelty to animals
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 7
Three persons were arrested for cruelly dumping 75 goats and sheep near the fire station in Mani Majra last night.

The police action followed the lodging of a complaint from animal-lover Payal Sodhi heading the People for Animal Society in the city.

Three persons, namely — Sanjeev Kumar, Dass Ram and Mishra, were arrested and produced in a court today, where they were granted bail.

A policeman said 75 animals were stuffed in a truck which had a capacity of 40, as per the law.

One of them died on the spot and nine were injured when they were unloaded. The transporter was bringing the animals from New Delhi for slaughtering in Chandigarh. They were to be given to contractor Subhash in Mani Majra.

Two animals died and and seven of them are under treatment. The animals were sent to the Sector 25 cow shelter.


1 killed in hit-and-run case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 7
A Bapu Dham Colony resident Parbottam last night died when a truck hit his rickshaw near the CTU light point.

Parbottam was seriously injured and taken to the Sector 32 GMCH, where he was declared brought dead.

Another person, Sardari Lal, a resident of Rukwal village, Gurdaspur, was injured in the accident. The truck driver fled from the scene along with his vehicle. A case under Sections 279/33 and 304 A of the Indian Penal Code has been registered.

The police is investigating.


NRI remanded for duping man of Rs 10 lakh
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 7
The CJM, Mr Gulab Singh, today remanded an NRI, Balbir Chaudhary, to 14 days’ police remand.

Sources said Chaudhary was booked on the complaint of Mr Amandeep, of Ludhiana last month. In his complaint, Mr Amandeep had alleged that Chaudhary had taken Rs 10 lakh from him on the pretext of sending him abroad. The NRI had alleged that he had been booked as part of a conspiracy hatched by a former president of the Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee, Mr Vijay Pal Singh Dimpy. 


Body found
Our Correspondent

Lalru, January 7
The body of an unidentified man was found on a link road at Jalalpur village this morning. The man seemed to be mentally imbalanced and was wearing shorts, a sweater and a cap, the police said.

The police has taken the body into custody and inquest proceedings have been initiated. The body would be sent to the Civil Hospital in Rajpura for a post-mortem examination tomorrow.


Kashmir handicrafts on display
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 7
Farah Khan set up Kashmir Krafts to take the handicrafts of Kashmir outside the valley. For eight years, she has been working in close association with the artisans of Kashmir to create a product range comprising exquisite hand embroidered shawls, stoles, scarves and throws, which she has now brought to the City Beautiful. The range is being showcased in Sector 22.

Farah Khan also uses swarovski crystals, sequins, beads, tassels, golden and silver threads, suede patches, cutwork and zardosi work to embellish the garments. Along with the embroidered range, she is also displaying the hand painted shawls and stoles, made elegant with delicate motifs of flowers and leaves. The collection is available in good designs, striking patterns and delightful colour combinations. The embroidery is also varied and rich.

Being showcased are both traditional and contemporary designs, which have been created keeping in view the global fashion trends. To keep the element of novelty alive in her works, Farah comes out with a fresh collection every year. As for craftsmanship, she has artisans from about 17 villages working with her.


PNB celebrates CBS anniversary
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 7
Punjab National Bank, mid-corporate branch, Sector 17-B, Chandigarh, today celebrated the first anniversary of Centralised Banking Solutions (CBS) i.e. National Network Connectivity in the Northern Zone. This was the first branch office in PNB, Northern Zone, that was connected with national networking last year. PNB has now 36 branches in the northern zone.

While addressing the gathering of corporate customers and leading industrialists at a customer relation programme organised at the branch office, Mr Harwant Singh, General Manager, PNB (Northern Zone), said that under CBS system of banking, the customer of the branch becomes the customer of the big bank. He said that Centralised Banking Solution, an ambitious project of the bank, has already been implemented in 385 branches and plans are afoot to roll it out to at least 500 branches by March, 2004. Further, the bank also launched Internet Banking Service on which is available to the customers of CBS branches. For the convenience of customers of these branches, the bank has also introduced multi-city cheque facility.

Mr Harwant Singh informed that the bank has installed 351 ATMs, most of which have been connected with Base-24 ATM switch providing on-line withdrawal facility to customers. The bank has also entered into ATM sharing arrangements with four other banks — Oriental Bank of Commerce, Global Trust Bank, Indian Bank and UTI Bank — under ‘MITR’ logo under which a pool of 1700 ATMs across the country is available to the cardholders of the member banks and also any master card holders. The bank has provided telebanking facilities at 100 locations.

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