C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


CBSE steps to check paper leak
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service


  • Teachers other than the examination staff to be deputed as witnesses at the time of opening packets containing question papers
  • Regional offices of the CBSE asked to monitor the exercise of deputing staff at examination centres
  • Remuneration fee for evaluating answer books increased

Chandigarh, January 13
To prevent the leak of question papers at the examination centres, the CBSE has asked the centre superintendents to open the packets containing examination papers in the presence of witnesses, other than the examination staff.

The presence of the “outside” witness, normally a teacher from another institution, has been made mandatory at the centres located in the remote areas, especially in Jawahar Navodya Vidylayas (JNVs) and Kendriya Vidylayas (KVs). The fresh instructions would be applicable in the forthcoming examinations of matric and senior secondary-level classes. The directives are part of fresh guidelines issued by the CBSE.

Aimed at maintaining confidentiality, the Controller of Examination, CBSE, Mr Pavnesh Kumar, has conveyed that the centre superintendents and the assistant superintendents would also have to ensure the presence of four other assistant superintendents when the packets were opened.

Of these, one had to be from a school other than where the examination centre had been set up. The Controller of Examination had recently visited the regional office of the CBSE in this regard.

The regional offices of the CBSE have been asked to monitor the process of deputing teachers for examination duties. The regional officers of the board would also have to depute a teacher from each school whose students would be appearing at the respective examination centre.

Sources said for spot evaluation of the examinations, the centre superintendents would have to use only blue-black or royal blue ink and the use of red ink for even writing headings had been barred. To ensure proper management, the principals of schools would be appointed as chief nodal supervisors. The chief nodal officers would be appointed in the cities where the number of schools was large.

The rate of remuneration to the examiners evaluating the answer books of classes X and XII had been enhanced from Rs 6.50 to Rs 8 and from Rs 8.50 to Rs 11 per answer book, respectively.

The answer books of science had to be evaluated by two examiners simultaneously — one for section A and another for section B. For evaluation of section A, only those with chemistry and physics at the undergraduate level would be appointed. For section B, the evaluators should have biology at the undergraduate level.

Meanwhile, under a new scheme in accountancy at the senior school level, 80 marks have been allotted to theory and 20 for project in financial accounting or practical in computerised accounting. Since the candidates of the second and third chance compartment of March and July 2004 had not done their practical/ project work while appearing for the main examination in 2003, it had been decided that these candidates would have to appear for the theory examination only consisting of 80 marks and their answer books would be evaluated for 80 marks. The marks would be converted into 100 marks at the finalisation of the result, an officer said. 


Mayor promises 3 more hours of water supply daily
Tribune News Service

  • More than 350 head of stray cattle will be transported to a Delhi gaushala later this week.
  • Green belt proposed for colonies adjoining the city.

Chandigarh, January 13
City residents will get drinking water for a longer period everyday, promises the newly elected Mayor, Mrs Kamlesh. The Municipal Corporation will ensure water supply for three more hours daily by increasing it by one hour each in the morning, afternoon and evening session.

The Mayor, talking to mediapersons, said this would be done within this week. The Mayor had discussions with the Public Health wing of the MC. She also had discussions with officials of the Chandigarh Administration.

Mrs Kamlesh’s talk with the Press was preceded by a meeting where the decision in this regard was taken. Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, Member of Parliament, Mr Pradeep Chhabra, Senior Deputy Mayor, and Mrs Geeta Rani, Deputy Mayor, were present on the occasion. The officials present included Mr M.P. Singh, Municipal Commissioner, besides the Chief Engineer, Medical Officer, Health, Chief Accounts Officer and XENs.

Mrs Kamlesh said special efforts had been made to ensure proper water supply to colonies in particular with the help of boosters and tubewells. The Maloya colony should no longer have complaints about water supply, she said. This has become possible because of enhanced capacity for water storage and prevention of leakages at various places.

The corporation, during this week, will be transporting about 350-400 head of cattle to a gaushala in Delhi. Mrs Kamlesh said the first batch was being despatched without any charges. The corporation, however, had planned a budget of about Rs 10 lakh for transportation of more cattle in future.

The corporation had recently decided to pay Rs 1,000 per head of cattle sent to gaushalas from the city as maintenance charges. Mr Chhabra said the construction of a gaushala in Maloya would start shortly to take care of stray cattle. The second section of the gaushala in Sector 45 is also under way.

The corporation will seek a list of various works being carried out in different wards of the MC. Mrs Kamlesh said a report would be sought at the earliest so that an assessment could be made about the status of different schemes under way.

Mrs Kamlesh said the corporation would also take up the project of introducing green belts in all colonies of the city. Dadumajra, Maloya, Mauli Jagran, Bapu Dham and Ram Darbar are the areas identified for the purpose. The list will be finalised shortly. The Mayor said it was also decided that all projects taken up by the corporation in future would be made time-bound. The parties concerned will also be required to remove waste material at the site within a week of completion of the work.


Water supply to be affected

Chandigarh, January 13
Water supply will remain suspended to parts of the city getting their supply from the pipes supplying water from Kajauli to Waterworks, Sector 39, tomorrow. It will remain suspended between 9 am and 5 pm. Repair work has been cited as the reason for cutting the water supply. TNS


PEDA builds first solar building in city
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 13
North India’s first building with in-built solar lighting and cooling systems will soon become functional in the city. Designed following the trajectory of the sun, it has a central wind tower and a solar power plant of 25 kw to run the lighting, heating and ventilation systems.

It has been constructed by the Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA) at a cost of Rs 7 crore as a demonstration model to promote conservation of conventional energy. The agency, engaged in the promotion of non-conventional energy sources in Punjab, plans to shift its headquarters from Sector 34 to this building in Sector 33. Besides adequate space for official staff, it will have an exhibition hall to display latest products running on non-conventional energy sources like solar power, wind power, biogas and even fuel cells.

Mr S.S. Sekhon, Director, PEDA, said, “It is the first building in North India that has been designed to show that by optimal utilisation of wind power and solar light, one can save 40 to 60 per cent of electricity bills in any building. We plan to run all lights, fans, computers, fax machines and other systems with solar power.” He said if it proved to be successful, the PEDA would offer consultancy to construct such buildings in the region.

Spread over 1.5 acres, the building will have about 70,000 sq ft covered area. Some of the officials of the agency have already been shifted to this building, and by April 13, all offices will be shifted there, he said. The building has been designed by Mr Arvind Krishnan, a renowned architect from the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi.

Mr Balour Singh, Joint Director, PEDA, said the building had been designed in such a way that from the southern side it would receive maximum sunlight during winter and summer. The external walls have been insulated by filling a layer of spintex wool that would protect it from heat during summer and from cold in winter. The roof has been fitted with solar photovoltaic cells which would supply energy to run the lighting and cooling systems. For cloudy days, it would have two-day battery back-up to run machines.

Mr Sekhon said the inner temperature of the building would remain between 25 to 30°C during winter and summer. There will be no walls in the building except small rooms on the northern corner. The floors have been joined by a suspended bridge. In addition, the central wind tower will suck in atmospheric air for proper ventilation in the basement and other floors.

“Against the normal requirement of 200 kw power load, we will take just 80 kw connection to run the system,” he said The rest of the requirements would be met by the solar power plant. Mr Sekhon said additional power produced on weekends would be sold to the UT grid.

“We hope to save at least Rs 7 to 8 lakh per year in energy bills by following this unique design, apart from presenting a model of utilisation of natural energy available in abundance,” he said. 


Environmental health of Punjab, UT under scanner
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 13
The Punjab State Council for Science and Technology (PSCST) has constituted steering committees in Punjab and Chandigarh to lend concrete shape to the Ministry of Environment’s national-level project, which requires all states in India to prepare status of environment reports. These reports must touch upon all environmental aspects of the respective regions, offering an insight into the developments and lapses therein.

Included in the 10th Five-Year Plan with the objective of reviewing environmental concerns in India and bringing about uniformity in the data collected in this regard from various states, this project is entering a crucial phase in Punjab and Chandigarh, where the PSCST is the nodal agency. Significantly, Punjab last reviewed its environment report in 1995. Working as the state host institute for Punjab and Chandigarh now, the PSCST has identified three imminent environmental areas each for Punjab and Chandigarh.

In Punjab these are water resources and their quality (Punjab reportedly has high levels of ground water pollution), air quality (increased vehicular traffic in the region is said to be hampering prospects for clean air) and biodiversity (the PSCST has data to show that biodiversity in many areas of Punjab stands threatened). In Chandigarh, the PSCST will look into air quality, noise pollution levels and land degradation patterns.

Sharing information with The Tribune today, Dr Neelima Jerath, nodal officer for the project, said environment and energy experts from Delhi, along with Environment Department officers from Punjab and Chandigarh, will congregate in Chandigarh for a three-day meeting beginning from tomorrow.

In attendance in the city tomorrow will be Mr P.V. Sridharan, Senior Visiting Fellow with the Energy and Resource Institute, New Delhi, the national host institute under which the PSCST is working for the current project. Also present will be Prof Satendra Kumar from Jawaharlal Nehru University. He will make a presentation on the high quality software which the Ministry of Environment will use to analyse the data collected under the project.

Sources in the ministry, when contacted, informed that the project was crucial insofar as it would serve to consolidate data related to environment. Said an official, “Until now all states came out with their own data, but it was not comprehensive. It was scattered, besides being restricted in approach and extent. This is the first time the Ministry of Environment has called for a uniform pattern in collecting the crucial environmental data.”


Multi-crore marketing scam unearthed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 13
The Chandigarh police today unearthed the biggest-ever multi-level marketing scam(MLM) in the city. It is suspected to be of Rs 30 crore against an initial estimate of Rs 3.5 crore. This was revealed to the Economic Offence Wing (EOW) investigating the fraud allegedly pertaining to artexe.com and tvisha.com by a former director of the company, Jasdeep Singh Bains, during interrogation.

The EOW took Bains, lodged in Burail Jail in connection with the onlinejobworks.com fraud, in production remand yesterday after suspecting his involvement in the artexe.com too. Until now, Net Khazana was the biggest MLM scam with a subscription collection of Rs 26 crore. The onlinejobwork.com scam is now suspected to involve Rs 12 crore.

Bains told the police that there were 7,000 members of artexe.com in March 2002 when he left the company under the control of his brother-in-law S. S. Sandhu.

He said Sandhu had increased the subscription fee from Rs 5,500 to Rs 16,500 after he left the company to concentrate on onlinejobwork.com. He also revealed that Sandhu made 15,000 new members after he left.

He said Sandhu had started a new MLM venture by the name of Tvisha Diamonds and had registered 5,133 members. The subscription fee of this company ranged between Rs 4,000 and Rs 7,000, the police said.

The police today came across five new accounts of artexe.com and Tvisha Diamonds in Patiala. The police had information that the company had four accounts in Chandigarh. However, the money deposited in the accounts had been withdrawn, the police said.

The serial numbers of the receipts seized from the company had reached 50,000 indicating that the number of members in the company was very high.

Sandhu is reportedly on the run.


10,000 lecturers sans increment
PPS Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 13
Nearly 10,000 senior teachers in universities and colleges in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh are not getting their annual increments, as they have exhausted their selection grade, Rs 12,000-420-18,300, despite having put in 25 years to 37 years of service.

Since the Human Resource Development Ministry has not implemented the promised third promotion grade, Rs 16,400-450-20,900, effective from January 1, 1996, these teachers are unlikely to get their annual increments due to them during the remaining period of their service, which ranges from 5 years to 8 years. This piquant situation has caused much consternation among these teachers, who would also not be entitled to any pension or gratuity.

In fact, these senior lecturers are also doubly unblessed. On the one hand they are facing stagnation at the end of their selection grade and on the other hand, not having a post-doctorate degree these teachers can not become principals. The University Grants Commission had made Ph.D qualification mandatory for appointment as principal, effective from December 1998.

Interestingly, the ministry to grants two increments to those teachers who do Ph.D, while in service. And a large number of senior teachers, stagnating at the end of the selection grade, took the opportunity to do Ph.D. Even they are not benefited in any way, as they too had crossed the selection grade.

Another aspect was that even for appointment as principal, the government has two yard sticks. This Ph.D degree is mandatory for becoming principal of a private college and not a government college. There were as many as 80 private colleges without principals. There were only non-Ph.D officiating ones, whereas, young lecturers, who are Ph.D and can be appointed principals are not being appointed because they lacked experience.

No wonder, frustration is writ large on the faces of these teachers, whose repeated representations to the Ministry of Human Resource Development and the minister concerned, Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, have been ignored all these years.

One of the affected teachers, Prof Charanjit Chawla, recalled that the promise of a third promotion was made by Dr Joshi after 26-day all-India strike in 1998. The call for that strike was given by the All-India Federation of University College Teachers Organisation, an apex body of 13,500 colleges and 300 universities. The promise was that all teachers with 25 years, experience or more would get the pay scale of Rs 16,400-450-20,900 effective from January 1, 1996.

A delegation of Panjab University Senators had met Dr Joshi last year, when he had visited the campus at Chandigarh. He had assured them that the third promotion would be given to senior teachers. Thereafter, the issue had been raised repeatedly in the university Senate and Syndicate, but there had been no tangible results, he added.

Even the Vice-Chancellor, Prof K.N. Pathak, had assured the Syndicate that interests of such teachers would be protected as there was provision to do so in the university calendar. He was to send a circular on those provisions to all colleges to grant the annual increments to lecturers concerned.

Several senior teachers admitted that this anomaly had affected their morale and teaching.


Lohri celebrated at PU
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 13
Reverberating with music and pulsating with life, the Student Centre at Panjab University wore a festive look as students from the various departments of the university got together to celebrate Lohri here today.

A huge bonfire was lit by the chief guest, Dr Surinder Sharma of the Department of Chemistry, to mark the beginning of the celebrations. With that began the song and dance sequence at the function. Foot-tapping movie numbers, peppy Punjabi songs and fast tracks saw the students dancing around the bonfire.

Not hesitating to shake a leg, girls joined in the festivities organised by the Panjab University Campus Students Council. Packets of sweets were distributed.


Lohri spirit in full flow
Our Correspondent

Students of Blue Bird Model School, Sector 16, celebrate Lohri in Chandigarh on Tuesday.
Students of Blue Bird Model School, Sector 16, celebrate Lohri in Chandigarh on Tuesday. 
— A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh, January 13
City residents sat around bonfires munching popcorns, groundnuts and other winter delicacies on the occasion of Lohri today. Several functions, were organised by social organisations and schools authorities and blankets were distributed.

Excitement was writ large on the faces of children as they came out of their houses in the morning to ask for ‘lohri’ from friends and relatives. Soon after, thumping beats filled the air as ‘dholis’ went from house to house, also asking for ‘lohri’.

Lohri was celebrated with fervour at the Dev Samaj College for Women in Sector 45. At least 100 girl students of Government Central Craft Institute presented a cultural programme. They crooned folk songs and presented ‘giddha’.

Students of Blue Bird Model School in Sector 16, dressed up in traditional Punjabi dresses, participated in a singing competition. The occasion was also celebrated with traditional fervour in Rai School, Sector 48. The Gian Jyoti Institute of Management and Technology in Mohali also celebrated Lohri.

At Delhi Public School, tiny tots of the primary wing crooned songs. Students of Divya Public School lit a bonfire to celebrate the festival. Students of Golden Bells School in Sector 35 and in Sector 77, Mohali, also celebrated the festival.

The little ones of Kailash Bahl DAV Centenary Public School in Sector 7, along with students of Ajit Karam Singh International Public School in Sector 41, enjoyed gachak, groundnuts and rewri after sitting around the fire on the school premises. Members of Lions Club Chandigarh Nightingale also celebrated Lohri. The birthday of Lions International Association founder Melvin John Fellow was also celebrated by cutting a cake by the bonfire.

The Environment Society of India celebrated the occasion on the campus of Karuna Sadan in Sector 11. The society president asked the participants to plant trees during spring so as to replenish the stock of wood burnt during Lohri.

The Welfare Association of 11-type government houses celebrated Lohri in Sector 19. At least 200 residents participated. The Lotus Foundation also organised a function for the students of Apna free school in Sector 49. About 55 blankets were distributed among the children. They were also given packets of groundnuts, gachak, rewri and popcorn. Washing soaps were also given to the children.


Mauritian ballet troupe celebrates Lohri
Tribune News Service

Members of Indigo Ocean, a Mauritian ballet company, celebrate Lohri with their Punjabi friends at the ICCR head office in Sector 35, Chandigarh, on Tuesday.
Members of Indigo Ocean, a Mauritian ballet company, celebrate Lohri with their Punjabi friends at the ICCR head office in Sector 35, Chandigarh, on Tuesday. — A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh, January 13
A few days ago, members of Indigo Ocean dance ballet company from Mauritius were busy adding sparkle to the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas celebrations, with the Indian Prime Minister in the audience. With a heart full of joy that stems from lavish praises showered upon them by famed Indians, including Vinod Khanna, 13 dancers of the group today landed in Chandigarh, where they became part of the Lohri revelry this evening. The group is here for a performance on an invitation from the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR).

In true exchange of cultures, the Mauritian dancers got busy following the rhythm of bhangra, as they joined their Punjabi counterparts in celebrations. And as they danced, reflections of kathak surfaced. It was later that Anna Patten and Sanedhip Bhimjee, founders of Indigo Ocean, disclosed that the North Indian classical dance form of kathak was indeed the basis of their dance style.

Born to South Indian parents, Anna always wanted to be a dancer. Since Mauritius had little scope for learning dance, Anna came to India, where she learnt kathak for five years under the tutelage of doyens Durga Lal and Birju Maharaj. Recalled the dusky dancer, “The natural choice for me would have been bharatnatyam. But kathak turned out to be my first love. The moment I saw Durga Lalji perform, I knew I wanted to dance kathak for the rest of my life”. Back in Mauritius, Anna founded Art Academy with Sanedhip, who was her first disciple.

Together they created a nursery of talent in Mauritius and also formed Indigo Ocean, which boasts of 150 professional dancers. Interestingly, the name Indigo Ocean comes from indigo, the first plantation in Mauritius. As for style, the company draws base from kathak and blends everything contemporary. No wonder, Anna and Sanedhip, along with their group members, have been invited all over Europe to make presentations, that remain rooted in kathak, but dare to experiment with styles so as to acquire a universal appeal. They are also going to participate in the World Island Festival, scheduled to be held in Andaman and Nicobar Islands between January 21 and 26.

A Gujarati as he is, Sanedhip is particularly fond of Indian rhythms. He says, “At the company, we mix and match a lot. Our respect is due to kathak, but since we come from a multi-cultural society, it is natural for us to seek a blend of forms. Our style reflects elements of kathak, and African, Chinese and European dance traditions”.

In love with the whole idea of cultural exchange, Sanedhip, the team leader, said, “We came to Indian to participate in the celebrations that marked the 50th anniversary of India’s Independence. We are happy to be back, especially in Chandigarh, where we got a chance to celebrate Lohri”.


More than a bonfire party
Tribune News Service

Students of Strawberry Fields School, Sector 24, celebrate Lohri in Chandigarh on Tuesday.
Students of Strawberry Fields School, Sector 24, celebrate Lohri in Chandigarh on Tuesday. — A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh, January 13
For students at Strawberry Fields Kindergarten, Lohri was more than just a bonfire party. It signified brotherhood and team spirit as they collectively worked at creating the props, which went into making the final day’s celebrations more meaningful.

Stories were narrated where legend, myth and make-believe were interwoven to bring home the various messages which this unique North Indian festival stands for.

Along with recounting stories, a clear message that went down pertained to concerns relating to the environment. Concepts like deforestation and environment degradation, thanks to indiscriminate usage of wood, were simplified by getting children to collect dry twigs and odds and ends of leftover pieces of wood.

The school wore a colourful festive look with brightly attired students in their Scottish red and black checks congregating around the fire, holding hands. The schoolchildren sang several songs and soaked in the warm rays of the winter sun, pledging their love and concern for all those around them.


Festival sans chill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 13
It has been an unusually warm and cosy January this year. In the past one week, daytime temperatures have gone up. The night temperature also rose last night. Local meteorological officials say winter is not over yet.

Maximum/minimum temperatures in last five years (in °C)







Jan 6






Jan 7






Jan 8






Jan 9






Jan 10






Jan 11






Jan 12






Jan 13






At this time of the year, when the shivering cold entices all to sit by the bonfire, city residents slept through a relatively warm night as the minimum temperature went up to 10.4°C, making it the warmest January here in the past five years. The maximum daytime temperature was recorded at 24.2°C, four degrees above normal.

Mr S.C. Bhan, Director of the local meteorological department, said frequent meteorological disturbances in the northern part of the country had led to a rise in temperatures. As fog had lifted, the earth surface radiated heat as a result of the direct sunrays, leading to a rise in the temperatures, he said.

Normally, Lohri marks the end of the foggy and cold conditions and lighting up the bonfire symbolises the change in weather. Weathermen said for the past one week, the bright sun had brought respite from the cold wave. They said the changev in climate could be a short phenomenon.

The maximum temperature today was 24.2°C. On January 12 last year, the maximum temperature was 12.8°C. Mr Bhan said the wind pattern was from West to East, leading to dispersing of the fog.


Students’ awareness march on Lohri
Our Sports Reporter

Mohali, January 13
Volunteers of the NSS and NCC cadre of Government College celebrated Lohri here today by organising an awareness march to educate slum-dwellers. Dr B.S. Gill, Programme Officer, NSS, said the students and teachers went through Shastri Colony in Phase VI here carrying banners and placards bearing slogans relating to adult education, health, environment, drug de-addiction, AIDS, traffic rules, dowry and communal harmony.

A colourful cultural function was organised by students on the campus. Lohri was also celebrated by volunteers of the NSS unit of the Gian Jyoti Institute of Management and Technology in Phase II here. 


Children dance to Lohri songs
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 13
Enthusiam marked the Lohri celebrations in the town today.

Students of DAV Senior Secondary Model School, Sector 8, were distributed reoris and popcorn. Students of Cherub Foster Kindergarten Preparatory School, School 4, danced around the bonfire and sang songs to celebrate the festival.

Class 1 students of Blue Bird High School, Sector 16, presented giddha and Class II students performed bhangra.

A colourful cultural programme was organised by the Congress in Sector 11 where Kalka MLA Chander Mohan was the chief guest. 


Police steps up searches ahead of R-Day
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 13
The Chandigarh police today intensified efforts to prevent any attempt by militants to disrupt Republic Day celebrations in the city.

All police divisions launched intensive searches in markets areas. Teams from the police stations of the southern sectors took out a flag march led by Mr S. S. Randhawa, DSP.

The police, however, has denied that there is any specific information about Kashmiri militants entering the city with arms and ammunition.

The Grain Market and the ISBT in Sector 17 today saw a third intensive search during the past few days.

The police has been rounding up about 100 persons on a daily basis and preparing information sheets, which are being sent to the police stations concerned.

The southern division led by Mr Randhawa and four SHOs rounded up several persons in the Sector 35 market to check their identity. All of them were later let off.

A flag march in eight vehicles was taken out from all markets of the area.

The central division led by Mr S. C. Sagar, DSP, was present in the Sector 9 market along with around 50 police personnel and the SHO (North), Mr Jagvir Singh.

The SHO (Central), Mr Satbir Singh, conducted searches at the ISBT.

The DSP (East), Mr S. C. Abrol, led the team which conducted searches in the markets of Sector 19 and 30. The Sector 19 SHO, Mr P. S. Malik, supervised searches in Sector 20 and 19 rehri markets. The SHO, Industrial Area, Mr Nanha Ram, conducted searches in the Sector 29 rehri market, besides the markets in Sectors 29 and 30.

The Mani Majra SHO, Mr Jaswant Singh, led a team to conduct a search in the Mani Majra Motor Market. The Sector 26 SHO, Mr Tirath Singh was present in the Grain Market.


Helpline for the stressed lot soon
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 13
The UT Administration’s much-awaited helpline that will counsel those in stress is likely to take off soon with the authorities in charge completing the formalities. The Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), Sector 32, which had been declared the nodal agency to lend shape to the helpline, is already half way through with the modalities and will make the free helpline service operational from February this year.

Paced work on the helpline project has been possible after posts required for the same were sanctioned by the UT Administration lately. While the two telephone lines under the project have been installed, interviews for the posts of counsellors, staff nurses and social workers will be held tomorrow.

The 24-hour-long helpline service was conceived last year around this season when the city witnessed a spate of suicides, most of them triggered by stress and consequent mood disorders. Many youngsters featured in the list of about 36 persons, who claimed their lives between January and April last year.

It was in the backdrop of this development that the Secretary, Social Welfare, UT Administration, had called a meeting of medical experts, voluntary workers and psychologists last year and declared the Administration’s intention of initiating the helpline, which would counsel those in need of attention and help. The project was, however, delayed because posts for the same had not been sanctioned earlier. Now the posts have been sanctioned and these include three counsellors, two staff nurses and one social worker.

Talking to The Tribune about the significance of the helpline, Dr B.S. Chavan, Head, Department of Psychiatry, GMCH, who is also in charge of the project, said, “We are not only working towards the helpline but are also building a community based crisis intervention team which would be ready to rush for help, notwithstanding the hour of the day.” Candidates for the posts selected will undergo an extensive two-week-long training before the helpline is actually made operational.


MIA seeks more concessions
Our Correspondent

Mohali, January 13
The Mohali Industries Association (MIA), while welcoming the grant of various concessions to trade and industry by the Punjab Government, said here today that the government should also release payments in long-pending subsidy cases immediately.

The president of the association, Mr Gurmeet Singh, said that the levy of entry tax on paper had hit the paper-conversion units, especially those in the small-scale sector. The levy was compelling many units to shift to other states.

An assurance had been given earlier that with the introduction of VAT, entry tax would go. However, since the picture relating to VAT was not clear, the Punjab Government should withdraw entry tax to give relief to these units.

The association spokesman said the unilateral hike in plot prices effected by agencies like the PSIEC had caused an unnecessary imbalance in the functioning of new units. There should be a clearcut allotment policy for industrial plots vis-a-vis residential areas.

He said the national economic growth rate had reached 8 per cent which was a good indicator.

However, the industry in Punjab could achieve a high rate of growth if the aforesaid issues were addressed by the state government.

He said the step on the withdrawal of Exim forms was a great relief as these were causing harassment and were a hurdle in the free movement of goods.

The increase in the limit of gross turnover for summary assessment under the sales tax law from Rs 40 lakh to Rs 75 lakh and the extension of the three-year deemed assessment scheme by one year were also welcome steps taken by the government as these would give a boost to the state’s economy.

Mr Gurmeet Singh said Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s announcement to lead a delegation of trade and industry to the Prime Minister for taking up problems had also been appreciated.


‘Pratibimb’ of one-time liquor trader
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 13
From selling liquor to reading the ancient Indian religious texts and spreading awareness about them. It has been a long journey for Mr Satyapal. For years he has been the leading wine trader of Chandigarh and Punjab. Not only has he opted out of the trade but he has turned his mind towards other pursuits. He now runs a organisation by the name of “Pratibimb”, the reflection.

So how come this change? Mr Satyapal says, “ideas, hunger and call of nature have no fixed time. This applies exactly to me when one day, while reading a religious book, I fell asleep. Honestly speaking that I am still not sure whether it was an idea or a dream that made me establish Pratibimb in July, 2002.”

Today the organisation holds a regular “quiz on Indian mythology.” The idea is very simple children of this generation are going away from the roots. The organisation approaches different schools and institutes to requests them to allow the use of their venue for holding the quiz. Questions on Indian mythology and ancient religious texts are asked. Those who stand first, second and third are rewarded.

For Mr Satyapal, who has been the president of the Chandigarh Wine Traders Association for a long span, “Pratibimb” is the way of life now. He spends hours on the Internet scouring religious material. His office in Sector 35, which once held records of wine stocks, today has thick religious books.

When asked how does he fund the organisation, Mr Satyapal says, “its exclusively a family organisation run within the limited resources. ‘Pratibimb’ does not accept any donations or contributions from any individual or organisation and it has no relation with any social, political and religious organisation. His three sons and two daughters contribute the finances and also take active part in reading books, arranging quiz and contacting suitable organisations to hold the quiz programmes. Though ‘Pratibimb’ does not accept donations, yet anybody who wants to join this organisation is welcome.”


Deluge of applications for allotment of flats
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 13
More than 3,500 applications for allotment of flats have been sent by those whose lands had been acquired about 35 years ago to build the second phase of Chandigarh. The Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) has received the deluge of applications after the Union Urban Development Minister, Mr Bandaru Dattaraya, announced in Parliament recently that these people would be given flats by the CHB.

The Welfare Society of Authorised Originals working under the aegis of the Pind Bachao Committee has not only sent applications, but also made a fresh demand that the oustees should be given special dispensation through a housing scheme.

The committee has alleged that low-ranking officials of the Administration were hand in glove with politicians and have repeatedly favoured encroachers.

All residents of 11 villages which were uprooted in the late 1960s to make way for Sectors 31 to 47 have formed a committee for seeking a minimum of two-bedroom unit at the 1966 price schedule for all 5,000 families.

The applications have been sent as an independent claim through the society's registered office to the Chairman of the CHB.

The oustees have neither been rehabilitated nor paid compensation in lieu of their land as per the agreement. 


Meaningless parking slips
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 13
The parking slips issued at Piccadily cinema, Sector 34, offer no security in case of any unfortunate incident like a theft. This is because the slips do not bear the name of the parking lot and the theatre, anywhere. Instead, it bears the name of the parking site at Sector 8-C.

The slip issued for parking to The Tribune correspondent today does not even mention the date of issuing of the receipt. It also reads that “Parking time is 7 am to 11 pm Before and after the parking hours the contractor is not responsible for the theft of the vehicle even though the parking slip is issued”.

Mr Shyam Sunder, a Tata Sumo driver, said the slip offered no guarantee of any refund from the contractor in charge of the area in case of any theft. An employee on duty at the parking site said, “The slips pertained to an old site that the contractor had under his control earlier in Sector 8. There is nothing to worry because similar slips were issued to all. These tickets were being issued temporarily in the absence of a new tickets. It will be sorted out at the earliest. There has been no theft at the venue as the staff on duty was vigilant enough to safeguard the interests of customers”.


Panic in Food Craft Institute
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 13
The Sector 42 Food Craft Institute was gripped in panic when those present heard a “shot being fired” creating a hole in one of the windowpanes of the institute towards Beant Singh Memorial.

Students and the officials of the institute rang up the police.

The police team inspected the site but could not find any trace of a shot being fired. To confirm what had happened, the police sought the help of a team of the Central Forensic Science Laboratory. Those present on the scene said they felt a shot being fired.


5 stolen scooters recovered
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 13
The Sector 17 police today claimed to have recovered five stolen two-wheelers from a drug addict who kept them in the parking lot of the Sector 17 Inter-State Bus Terminus (ISBT).

Harpal Singh, a resident of Sector 22-C, was arrested on January 10 from near the Kiran cinema along with a scooter stolen from Shastri Market. During the police remand ending today, Harpal Singh revealed he had stolen four more scooters.

According to the police, four of the scooters were recovered from the underground parking at the ISBT.

The alleged thief revealed he had been selling parts of the scooters to satisfy his urge of addiction.


Prabhakar launches herbal products
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 13
Naturence School of Beauty, a Delhi-based company owned by former cricketer Manoj Prabhakar, today launched a series of herbal products, including glycolic acid kit, to remove pigmentation and wrinkles on the face.

Launching the products, Prabhakar claimed that there had been a tremendous response from beauty parlours to their 100 per cent herbal products like the anti-pimple kit and floral kit, specially designed for youngsters.

He said Naturence was the pioneer in organising seminars for beauticians. It had organised over 1,000 seminars in which free one-day training was given to beauticians, he added. The company, whose clientele till date has been beauty parlours, is now looking for franchisees and plans to enter the retail market.

A former Bollywood actress, Farheen, who is the brand ambassador of Naturence, said she planned to open a beauty school for girls of middle and lower classes as the present training expenses were beyond the reach of these classes.


Air fare to Delhi, Mumbai slashed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 13
The air fares for the Chandigarh-Delhi and Chandigarh-Mumbai route have been slashed by 15 per cent. On the Chandigarh-Delhi route, the apex fare of Jet Airways has been reduced from Rs 1,555 to Rs 1,376 and that of Indian Airlines from Rs 1,555 to Rs 1,378.

In the economy class, Jet Airways has announced to reduce air fares on the Chandigarh-Delhi route from Rs 3,420 to Rs 2,992, and Indian Airlines from Rs 2,500 to Rs 2200. The fare for Chandigarh-Mumbai has been reduced from Rs 5,200 to Rs 4,560.

A spokesperson of Indian Airlines here said that the fares had been reduced as Finance Minister Jaswant Singh had announced to withdraw 15 per cent inland airport tax.

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