C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


City to have new transport system
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 8
The Chandigarh Administration has come up with a functional public transport system based on the way traffic moves in the city. The plan is to make it functional from August 15 this year. Traffic in the city moves on roads separating the sectors in horizontal and vertical directions. Buses will run on the same pattern.

* Will save time in commuting as buses will move in vertical and horizontal directions.
* It is economical. Will cost people Rs 5 from one point to another.
* There will be a bus every 15 minutes.
* 120 new buses are being purchased for this.
* The plan will be implemented on August 15 this year. The existing bus routes within the sector limits will cease.
* Chandigarh Tribune had reported about this concept on August 31, 2002.

The idea is unique and aims at reducing travel time between two destinations. According to the plan, 120 low-floored Euro-II buses with hydraulic doors would operate in the city.

Using the simple principle that each sector is divided by main roads, the system envisions that there has to be a continuous movement of buses on all main roads cutting across the city, vertically or horizontally.

If a person wants to go from the PGI to Sector 47 using the existing transport system, he/she will have to board a bus at the PGI and a circuitous route will be taken before reaching Sector 47. This usually takes about an 1 hour.

As per the new plan, a passenger from the PGI will start on the the horizontal route on Madhya Marg. He/she will get down at the intersection of the road leading to Sector 47 and board another bus for Sector 47. The travel time will not be more than 30 minutes.

The waiting time will also be less because the frequency of the buses will go up. The Administration today said a bus would ply every 15 minutes and a fixed fare of Rs 5 would be charged for commuting anywhere in the city.

If a bus plies on Dakshin Marg near Sector 38, on reaching Tribune Chowk at the other end of road, it will take a U-turn and start the reverse journey, as per the plan.

On August 31, 2002, Chandigarh Tribune had reported this concept of public transport suggested by two city youths, Mr Preet Pal Singh and Mr Damanjit Singh.

The UT Administrator, Justice O.P. Verma, today okayed the plan submitted by his Adviser. Last month the Administrator had asked the Adviser to study the difficulties being faced by commuters and come out with a plan for introducing an efficient, and a viable transport system.

The Administrator said this would usher in a reliable and cost-effective transport system. He had been informed that 120 buses would be required for the purpose. 14 such buses had been purchased by the CTU and the remaining would be procured in the next financial year.

The Administrator has asked the Adviser to plan a sufficient number of bus shelters on a build-operate-transfer basis. 


Girl alleges rape by ‘kidnapper’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 8
The “minor” girl of Janata Colony whose disappearance had led to her family allegedly stripping the mother of the boy who allegedly kidnapped her, today alleged that she was raped by the boy, who is also said to be a minor.

Appearing before a magistrate today, the girl, recovered from Srinagar, alleged that she had been raped by the boy in Jammu and then in Srinagar. The girl said she had been rescued from Srinagar by her family members and the boy, who allegedly kidnapped her after giving her intoxicants, had gone in hiding in Srinagar.

She said she had rung up her family from Jammu to inform that she had been kidnapped by the boy.

The police today registered a case of rape, kidnapping, illegal confinement and using intoxicants against the boy.

The parents of the girl had earlier registered a complaint regarding her  disappearance. The girl has been handed over to her relatives.

The family members of the boy alleged that the girl had been married to a boy in Shimla despite being a minor.

The family members of the girl are at large after being booked for injuring, humiliating and stripping the family members of the boy.

Raju a brother of the boy, and his mother said the police should force the family of the girl to produce the boy who was alleged to be with the girl.

Relatives of the boy’s family had gathered at the jhuggi of the boy fearing that the girl’s family might attack them again. The police got medical examination of the girl done before registering the case of rape.

The family members of the boy said the allegations were false and unless a DNA test on the girl was done, the police would be playing into the hands of those who had stripped a woman and her son.


Teacher accuses couple of blackmail
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 8
A 45-year-old government schoolteacher has accused a couple of Dhanas of having extracted Rs 2 lakh from her by threatening to circulate her nude photographs allegedly taken in a hotel at Pinjore after intoxicating her.

The couple, Manjit Singh and his wife Devinder Kaur, however, alleged that the teacher who was a widow was forcing him (Manjit) to marry her. When he refused, she levelled these allegations against them.

The teacher said Manjit Singh (48) had come to her house on August 11, 2001, and offered to teach her driving at night. She agreed to go along with him as she had known his family since the time she had started going for driving lessons at his driving school.

She said it started raining on August 11 and he asked her to come to his house where his wife Devinder Kaur offered her tea. Minutes after having tea, she claimed she started feeling dizzy and in the morning found herself “nude” in a hotel in Pinjore. She alleged that the couple started blackmailing her.

Asked if she had taken the photographs from the accused in lieu of payment, she replied in the negative. She also did not remember in which hotel she was taken.

She lodged a complaint with the Dhanas police post but nothing came out after several inquiries. Later she approached the court to get an FIR registered on January 3.

Manjit Singh said during these probes by senior officers, she had failed to give any evidence of the money having been given or regarding the photographs.

A case has been registered in the Sector 11 police station against the couple.

The teacher alleged that the police had rejected her complaints at each stage. Manjit Singh, however, said she had approached the lok adalat to get the money back but she was not able to provide any evidence.

Both parties agreed that they had reached an agreement some time ago but she later accused the police of forcing her to reach an agreement.

The police said she had complained and was focussing on the return of the money during statements recorded during three inquiries. The driving school owner said he worked as her driver for two months but she had refused to pay his salary and had threatened to lodge a complaint against him.

Neighbours revealed that the two parties had agreed to reach a compromise but the deal fell through on the amount. The teacher said she had given the money in instalments and even taken a loan of Rs 80,000 from HDFC to pay to Manjit Singh.

The police said she had been called for certain clarifications but she had not yet approached it.


Mohali councillor booked on trespass charge
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 8
The Mohali police today booked a Municipal Councillor here on charges of trespassing and violation of the Arms Act. The accused, Mr Manjit Singh, who belongs to the Opposition in the Council, however stated that he was innocent and was being framed by the police in connivance with the MC chief Mr Kulwant Singh.

According to the police, a resident of Phase X Rajinder Singh, had complained to the police last week that Manjit Singh came to his house at night with a gun in his hand and threatened to kill him. Following this the police was contacted and a written complaint given against the councillor.

The police informed that Manjit Singh and Rajinder Singh were involved in a land dispute and according to Rajinder Singh, Manjit Singh was trying to force a compromise on him regarding the dispute. Last week too he had come to Rajinder Singh's house to force him to sign some papers.

Manjit Singh, who was also a former vice-president of the Council, has taken anticipatory bail to avoid arrest following the registration of the case against him Stating he was innocent, Manjit Singh alleged that he was being framed by the police in connivance with the MC president, Mr Kulwant Singh. He alleged that the MC president and a senior police officer were related through their brothers and so the case had been booked against him.

However, the SSP Ropar, Mr S.P. Singh, told mediapersons that the police had not framed Manjit Singh falsely and adequate investigations had been done before registering the case.

The MC president, Mr Kulwant Singh, said he was in no way involved in the case. ‘‘What have I to do with him? How do I stand to benefit by getting him arrested? I have the majority of 20 councillors with me. Why should I need to get someone out of the council? I have no idea why Manjit Singh had been booked but it is unfair on his part to level such allegations against me,’’ he said.

It is learnt that Manjit Singh has also met the DGP, Punjab, who has assured him Justice.


Onlinejobwork.com scam: role of businessman under scanner
Sanjay Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 8
The Chandigarh police is inquiring the role of one of the well-known businessmen of the city if he was using a front man in the Rs 12 crore fraud allegedly committed by Onlinejobwork.com.

This is believed to have been revealed to the police by one of the directors of the company Jaswinder Singh Sohi, who surrendered before a local court and remanded to a day of further police custody today.

The police, however, neither denied nor confirmed whether a particular name of the businessman had figured during the interrogation of Sohi. It said a few names had come up and the police was investigating their role in the scam.

“I was offered the post of a director at Jalandhar by Jasdeep Singh Bains and two others to manage the company’s office despite my qualification not being proper,” Sohi told Chandigarh Tribune while being produced before the court. Sohi said he was participating in meetings of the company as he did not know English.

Sohi said he did not have signing authority on bank transactions and was offered a salary of Rs 50,000 per month. Sohi said he was not paid salary for the past five months and he was given only Rs 38,000 per month.

The surrendered director of the company claimed that he did not know how the promoters of the company and the main person in the police custody Bains were operating.

Sohi indicated that the main persons in the company who withdrew after the police cracked down were allegedly using him and Narinder Kumar who was also made a director from the post of an accountant with a local business firm.

While Jasdeep Singh Bains is in the judicial custody, another director Aman Bains is still at large.

The surrender of Sohi followed his anticipatory bail applications being rejected by courts.

Sohi surrendered before the court on January 4 and denied he was part of any conspiracy of fraud.

The police said Sohi’s interrogation revealed that the main persons were using him and Narinder Kumar as frontmen in the alleged fraud affecting nearly 8,000 persons across the country.

The police said it proved the promoters of the company were allegedly working in a conspiratorial manner to use these persons.

The police has already filed a chargesheet in the court against Jasdeep Singh Bains on December 26. It is investigating the role of new names which have come up during investigation.

The company was allegedly offering jobwork to unemployed youth and housewives at a salary of between Rs 8,000 and 10,000 per month apart from giving membership benefits.

The company was enrolling members taking Rs 16,500 and returning Rs 5,500 on each member added by them to their chain.


Hallo Majra, Raipur Kalan lands to be acquired

Chandigarh, January 8
Some land in Hallo Majra and Raipur Kalan villages will be acquired for the use of defence forces and setting up a gaushala, respectively.

In case of Hallo Majra, the land is urgently required for ‘‘the extension of headquarters ‘N’ area’’ This land falls in ‘Had-bast’ number 219. A notice under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, has been issued.

The UT Administrator has held the opinion that the case falls under sub-Section (1) & (2) of the Section 17 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, the provisions of Section 5-A will not apply with regard to this acquisition. The ground for urgency is the security of military installations in the area.

In case of land in Raipur Kalan village, the land is needed for a gaushala and cattle pond shelters for stray animals. The land falls under ‘Hadbast’ number 371.

Plans of the land may be inspected in the office of the Land Acquisition Collector, Chandigarh. TNS


North gets representation in science congress
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 8
The scientific community of the region seems to have got a major boost yesterday, when Dr. S.P. Singh, Professor Emeritus, Kurukshetra University, was elected general secretary (outstation) of the science congress for a three-year term (2004-07). The scientists from the region had been feeling sidelined by the Indian Science Congress for the past over a decade.

They claim that Prof R.C. Paul, former Vice Chancellor of Panjab University was the last person from the region to get representation in this body during early eighties. The science congress has been dominated mostly by scientists from West Bengal and southern states. It is perhaps for the first time, they said, that a scientist from the region has been elected general secretary of the congress.

Talking to TNS from Kurukshetra today, Prof S.P. Singh, disclosed that as a general secretary of this body representing more than 12,000 scientists from the country, he would make efforts to increase the participation of the students, particularly of the schoolchildren and undergraduate students in its session. This would require, he said, joint efforts by the schools, colleges, state governments and organisers of the science congress.

Prof S.P. Singh is a recipient of Acharya P.C. Ray Memorial Award and Lecturership and was honoured with the Life-Time Achievement Award by the Indian Chemical Society in December 2003 for his outstanding contribution to chemical sciences. He has been actively engaged in research for the last 40 years and has worked and lectured in many universities in the USA, the UK and Spain.

He was also President of Chemical Sciences Section of the Indian Science Congress at its 90th session held at Bangalore in January 2003. He had joined Kurukshetra University in 1965 and served the Chemistry Department as Chairman. He was appointed Professor Emeritus for life on reaching the age of superannuation. He was also appointed as a CSIR Emeritus Scientist.

He felt that science education had been neglected so far by the northern states especially Punjab and Haryana, resulting in neglect of scientific research. It would be his endeavour in the coming years, he said, to devise mechanisms through which the congress may contribute in developing a scientific culture in the region.

Elaborating further, Dr S.P. Singh said even at the present level, the congress was providing a common platform where scientists belonging to different disciplines interacted and shared their experiences. This was particularly significant as the boundaries between subjects such as chemistry, biology, physics and environmental sciences were diminishing, he said.

The recommendations made by the congress would be given due consideration by the Centre while formulating the science policy, according to Dr S.P. Singh. He said that the 92nd session of the congress to be held at Ahmedabad from January 3 to January 7 would have a very focal theme “Health Technologies for the Nation Development” which would go a long way to initiate novel methods to control various diseases. 


Some delegates leave without paying up
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 8
It was business as usual at Panjab University here today, with the last of the delegates leaving this morning following the conclusion of the five-day Indian Science Congress (ISC).

While teaching in the university and affiliated colleges would resume tomorrow, students began returning to hostels that had been used to accommodate the delegates.

Labourers have started dismantling the hangars erected to host the science congress.

In the evening, some cases where the delegates had left without paying their bills came to light. “Only a few instances of non-payment of bills have been brought to our notice. Their number is expected to rise by the time all bills are compiled and receipts received by the university. We have, however, sent all the delegates with refunds due to them to save them any trouble of corresponding with us,” the local secretary of the ISC, Dr R.C. Sobti, said.

The ground where the main sessions were hosted is being levelled and its repair would cost nearly Rs 4 lakh. The money has been provided for from the amount allocated for the hosting of the ISC.

“They had dug pits to prop up pillars which held the hangars. The frequent entry of trucks has destroyed the hockey ground. Besides the filling up of pits and the levelling of the ground, the seats have to be set in order. A fund for the same has already been earmarked. However, the situation would be clear only after the entire framework is dismantled,” the Assistant Director, Sports, Panjab University, Dr Kewal Singh, said.


Folk dances helped delegates unwind
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 8
To help delegates of the Indian Science Congress relax after a long day of lectures and discussions, organisers, Panjab University (PU) and IMTECH organised a variety programme.

Aimed at giving the delegates a feel of the cultures of Punjab and Haryana, the programme was held every evening after the sessions.

On the first day, the programme was compered by Dr Surinder Sharma from the Department of Chemistry (PU) and a comedian in Punjabi films, left the delegates impressed. Cracking jokes on science and scientists, he had the audience in splits. Students from various colleges took part in the cultural programme. A team from DAV College (Sector 10) presented bhangra while girls from Sri Guru Gobind Singh College (Sector 26) performed giddha.

The students of Dev Samaj College of Education (Sector 36) performed a Rajasthani dance while the students of Government College of Education (Sector 20) presented a folk song.

Kuchipudi artistes Jairam Rao and Vanashree Rao performed Ardhnareshwar Shiv-Parvati dance which was marked with grace and charm. Their disciple, Arunima Kumar, also performed at the function organised on the second day of the science congress. This show was compered by Priyamvada Tewari of the Department of Bio-Physics (PU).

The Haryana Cultural Affairs Department gave the delegates a feel of the culture of Haryana through dance. Beginning with saraswati vandana, the artistes performed “ghoomer”. 


BJP leaders to visit city houses
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 8
The local unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) plans to visit each house of the city later this month as part of a massive drive to strengthen the party cadre at the ground level for the forthcoming parliamentary elections later this year. The drive is scheduled between January 20 and 30, said Mr Om Prakash Dhankad, National Secretary, while addressing a press conference here today.

Mr Dhankad said the city would be divided into 20 ‘mandals’. In each of the ‘mandals’ rallies would be held in different localities and converge at a common point everyday. As many as 200 ‘sabhas’ would be organised in different parts of the city. A collective rally of the 'mandals' would be organised on February 1 which would serve as a strong indicator of the party strength to prepare for the elections. Mr Venkaiah Naidu, National President of the BJP, was likely address the collective rally.

Mr Dhankad said the national executive of the BJP would meet at Hyderabad on January 11 and 12 to work out a national plan of action. The party would assess its victory in the recent elections at Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan and also its loss at Delhi and Mizoram.

Mr Yash Pal Mahajan, president of the local unit, introduced the national secretary. Mr Satya Pal Jain, a former Member of Parliament, was also present.


Union Home Secy to be in city today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 8
The Union Home Secretary, Mr N. Gopalaswami, will be in Chandigarh tomorrow to meet officers of the Chandigarh Administration. The Administration is expected to raise issues which are pending with the MHA Since Chandigarh is directly controlled by the MHA, the role of the Union Home Secretary is critical.


Care to plug hole in his heart?
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 8
Five-year-old Bunny knows nothing about the hole in his heart. Down with the Down’s syndrome, the child suffers not only from a low IQ but also from extremely poor resistance which draws him to illness every now and then. Over the past four years, the child’s condition has been deteriorating because proper medical treatment has not been possible in the absence of required money.

Now that many years have passed ever since the doctors recommended heart surgery, the child’s helpless parents have come out in the open, seeking community support to raise funds required for Bunny’s surgery. Their poor living conditions in Sohana village bear a testimony to their pathetic financial state. On top of that Rakesh Kumar, the child’s father, barely manages to save anything out of his meagre earnings from repairing bags. Whatever little is saved goes into health care of Bunny’s twin brothers, born just five months ago.

In the given scenario, things would never have improved for Bunny had his parents not enrolled him with Savera Rehabilitation Centre which opened a branch in Sohana recently. It was only after the centre authorities took up the case of Bunny, who is a special child, that his parents — Rakesh and Meenu Bala — realised the urgency of the matter. They had nearly resigned to fate, believing that they would never be able to collect Rs one lakh required for the surgery of Bunny’s heart.

When contacted, Neil Roberts, Director of Savera Rehabilitation Centre at Lotus Model School, Sohana, said, “Before we started the centre in Sohana, we had conducted an extensive survey to determine the extent of disability in Sohana. It was during this survey that we came in touch with the child and the family, which is too poor to take care of the medical expenses required for the surgery.

It was after Bunny started missing school too often that the Rehabilitation Centre authorities realised the problem was too grave to be ignored. They took up the child’s case and are trying to gather funds from the community. Meanwhile, medical records of Bunny show how the child’s condition has been worsening over the time. Bunny’s father Rakesh Kumar admits, “Bunny remains ill most of the time. He lacks resistance.” Expressing inability to manage funds to get his child operated, he almost broke down, requesting for help. Also, he forwarded the child’s prescriptions, lest anyone doubts his intentions.

While some financial help has been forthcoming, more is needed. Those who wish to help the cause can contact the authorities of Savera Rehabilitation Centre, a registered voluntary agency, which has its office in Saupin’s School, Sector 32.


World Bank ‘turns to religion to end poverty’
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 8
“The World Bank authorities are looking towards religion to eradicate poverty and violence. They are disillusioned with the way the political systems the world over have failed to provide effective solutions. Now the focus is on world religions to help the poor and downtrodden,” said Dr Rajwant Singh, the founder president of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education (SCORE), USA.

For a nation with a large number of religions, this comes as a welcome news. “The world is falling apart and the answer lies in religion. But the inter-faith movement across the world will have to be redefined before it can start making a difference,” he added.

In the town to deliver a lecture at the Punjab School Education Board, Dr Rajwant Singh said there was a growing need to bring the world religions under one umbrella and form a common front to fight poverty and violence.

Believed to have started in 1893 at the World Parliament of Religions, the inter-faith movement has come a full circle. “Mired in internal contradictions and sectarian fundamentalism, the movement could well be said to have lost its original purposes,” Dr Rajwant pointed out.

But many forerunners of the movement — with their organised forms in the West — are still not disillusioned. Their faith in inter-faith movement remains unshaken. “Starting at the local level, various religions and the sects within these religions need to be united. We are trying something like this among the Sikhs in the USA and Punjab,” said Dr Rajwant. He has also been president of the Inter-faith Conference of Metropolitan Washington which brings together nine religious communities for dialogue and joint work on critical issues.

Giving details of a World Bank meeting held in October 2003, Dr Rajwant Singh informed that 35 representatives from various fields met at Canterbury England, the centre of the Anglican Church. He said it was felt at the meeting that the proper way to reach the most downtrodden should be through religion and not politics.

Dr Rajwant said the Guru Gobind Singh Foundation in Washington DC was in the process of starting service in English in gurdwaras so that more people including the Sikh youth, who are born and brought up there are able to understand the teachings of the Gurus. “The answer lies in creating awareness about the Sikh religion within the community,” he observed.


Software for linking Indian languages
A. S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 8
After developing a Machine Assisted Translation Tool called MANTRA which translates the English text into Hindi in a specified domain, the Bangalore-based Centre for Advanced Computing (C-DAC) is now working on a computer software linking all Indian languages.

“You write in Tamil or Gujarati and the machine will automatically translate it into Punjabi, Hindi or any other Indian language”, says a computer software expert manning C-DAC stall at the Pride of India Exhibition alongside the 91st session of the Indian Science Congress which concluded last night at the Panjab University campus. “The work on the development of software is at a fairly advanced stage and it is only a matter of time we release it for general use”, he said.

Explaining the background of the MANTRA project, he says the work on this has to be viewed in the context of the Indian environment, its socio-economic conditions, size, population and historical background.

Translation from one language to another, that too having totally different grammatical structures, has a very broad spectrum to cover. MANTRA has made a start in one part of the spectrum and established that this great task can be accomplished for specific purposes.

Work in the area of machine translation has been going on for several decades and it was only during the early 90s that this promising technology began to emerge with advanced researches in the field of Artificial Intelligence and Computational Linguistics.

Having TAG (Tree Adjoining Grammar) parser called Vyakarta that could handle English, Hindi, Gujarati, Sanskrit and German, C-DAC scouted for a relevant application. Translation in the Indian context was a more pressing concern. C-DAC, therefore, chose English-Hindi pair in the domain of official language used in the central government departments as the first real life application. Accordingly, a prototype translation system was decided upon, built and progressively refined, which was named MANTRA.

This version of MANTRA was demonstrated to the Department of Official Language, Government of India and several other organisations and institutions.

MANTRA will be initially used by organisations and corporations, as they have to handle bulk translation for official purposes. It will also be economical in the long run, as a substantial part of translation work, which is executed manually, will be shared by machine translation systems.


Prof Manjit stresses role of dialogue
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 8
A former Jathedar of the Akal Takht Keshgarh Sahib, Professor Manjit Singh, today said the appointment of jathedars and others in the Akal Takht should be done in accordance with a well-defined procedure.

Prof Manjit Singh was talking to mediapersons after a lecture at the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) here today. Stating that reforms on these lines were urgently required, he pointed that once a proper procedure was followed in these appointments, a large number of misgivings being faced by the leaders of the Sikh community could be avoided.

Reacting to a statement given by the Editor of Spokesman regarding the role of jathedars, Prof Manjit Singh said anyone could air his or her personal views on any subject.

“Dialogue is a way of solving problems and even if there is a complete difference of opinion, dialogue is essential. We should never shirk from meeting those who oppose us,” he said during the lecture.

Earlier, Dr Kehar Singh, the Chairman of the education board, welcomed the guests while Raja Harnarinder Singh, a former Chairman of the board, proposed a vote of thanks.


Roll back power tariff hike, says HVP leader
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 8
Coming down heavily on the Chautala government for its failure on all fronts, the president of the district unit of the HVP, Mr K.P. Singh, today demanded a rollback of the electricity tariff hike in the state.

Talking to mediapersons here, Mr K.P. Singh alleged that the government was “fleecing” residents by charging exorbitant tariff. The farmers were at the receiving end as they were also overcharged.

Demanding the rehabilitation of thousands of migrants occupying precious public land, he alleged that the authorities were harassing the law-abiding citizens, who had constructed houses outside the municipal limits.

Answering a question, Mr K.P. Singh demanded the “hilly area” status for Morni hills, saying the area had been neglected by the successive regimes. The Chautala government had been adopting a step-motherly treatment towards this area.

The leader, while demanding the abolition of the house tax, said the civic amenities were being neglected by the local Municipal Council.


Fire-fighting equipment obsolete, say officers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 8
The fire-fighting equipment in possession of a majority of fire stations in the country needs to be upgraded according to the current needs. Certain tools accompanying the fire tender are obsolete and outdated in the existing conditions.

This was the general consensus at a zonal meeting of the Fire Department officers from the north zone conducted at the Fire Station, Sector 17, recently. Another meeting will be held in February and recommendations will be sent to the Ministry of Home. The Standing Fire Advisory Committee of the MOH will assimilate recommendations from three other zones before suggesting the future plan of action.

Fire officers came from Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Uttaranchal, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Sikkim and the city.

It is felt that certain equipment which the fire tenders carried could be done away with. “The number of pipes on a fire tender can be reduced by at least half from the existing 10. The lock breaking system is outdated. In a large number of cases the tenders were equipped with manual facilities of lifting the personnel and the equipment whereas hydraulic system had become very common in this field”, a senior Fire Officer said. The committee also talked about changes needed in the recruitment standards with special stress on higher education.

Mr G.S.Bajwa, the local Chief Fire Officer, said details of the meeting were still being worked out as more meetings will be held. He said the major areas for discussion included updating norms for equipment, standardising the material and giving maximum information to people regarding fire safety precautions.


Mobile telephone thefts cause major concern
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 8
The increasing cases of mobile telephone thefts in the region has become a major issue for the telecom sector. The industry experts say that lack of coordination among handset vendors and network operators, absence of any legislation in this regard and continuing dominance of grey market have aggravated the situation.

Keeping in view increasing number of mobile theft cases across the country, TRAI today released a consultation paper on ‘Mobile Phone Theft’ seeking opinions and suggestions on the best way of dealing with this issue. Though no official data is available on mobile theft cases, yet industry experts say that with an explosive growth of mobile telephony in the country, thousands of mobile handsets were reported to be stolen across the country every month.

It is almost impossible to locate the stolen handset. Police officials say that they are mostly sold in the grey market by changing the SIM card in case of pre-paid connections, and by taking another connection in the case of post- paid connections. Further, their IMEI, the unique identity number, are tampered with by the experts.

Mr Randhir Verma, President, Chandigarh Telecom Subscribers Association, says, “In the European countries, it is not so difficult to catch a mobile thief because of tough legislative measures and coordination between handset manufacturers and operators. Since, every handset has a unique IMEI number and their data is shared by all the operators, the handset with a particular number can be jammed by the operators and its location can be identified there to nab the accused.”

As per the TRAI paper, the European countries also report a large number of mobile thefts, mostly in Germany (1 lakh thefts annually), the Netherlands (1.55 lakh), UK ( 3.30 lakh), Spain (1.89 lakh) and Sweden (1 lakh). But these countries have devised legislations to deal with the problem. In Hungary, one can be sent for up to 10 years’ imprisonment for tampering with the IMEI number or for mobile theft. In France, illegal re-programming of the mobile number would attract imprisonment for upto 2 years.

A senior official of the Spice Telecom admitted that hundreds of customers reported in Punjab and Chandigarh report missing of their handsets every month and would ask them to disconnect their connections.

The market insiders disclosed that one could easily buy a Nokia or LG mobile with in-built camera features at a price of Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000 from Chandigarh, Ludhiana or Amritsar. Most of the stolen handsets, they said, were sold in small towns after changing ID numbers and the outer body of the handsets.

Is there any way out to check mobile theft? Said Mr Verma, “TRAI and Parliament may take much time to enact an Act, but the customers must take insurance cover to control the damage in case of theft. They should also buy handsets only from authorised dealers and get proper receipts. 


MC authorises banks to collect house tax
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 8
The local Municipal Council (MC) has authorised various banks to accept the house tax bills.

The authorised banks include Punjab National Bank (PNB), Sector 4, PNB, Sector 5, PNB, Sector 12-A, Indian Overseas Bank, Sector 9, Andhra Bank, Sector 8, Allahabad Bank, Sector 11, Union Bank of India, Sector 5, State Bank of India, Industrial Area Phase II, and Bank of Maharashtra. Besides, the residents can deposit the bills at the office of the council as well.

A press note issued here said any discrepancy in this regard could be sorted out at the office of the MC Executive Officer on any working day.

All residents depositing the bills within one month of their receipt will be given a discount of 10 per cent.

Those not depositing the bill will have to pay a surcharge of 10 per cent and an interest of 12 per cent, it added.


Beopar Mandal decries taking away of rehris
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 8
The Chandigarh Beopar Mandal in a press note here today criticised the enforcement wing of the Municipal Corporation for forcibly taking away ‘rehris’ of traders in Sector 21.

Mr Jagdish Arora, president, was critical of the behaviour of corporation officials while “impounding cycle-rehris meant for free home deliveries.

These were plying in the city after being duly licensed by the UT Administration”. Mr Jagdish Pal Kalra, Mr Kamaljit Singh Panchi and Mr Radhe Lal, office bearers of the mandal, met Mr Arun Sekhri, Additional Commissioner of Enforcement, and appraised him of the developments.

They also alleged that the enforcement inspector who accompanied the team misbehaved with the traders and demanded an enquiry.

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