C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


The fog is back
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
Cold weather is playing hide and seek with city residents. After a warm spell of about 10 days, foggy and cold conditions returned today, affecting life in the city. Thick pullovers and jackets which had been stacked in cupboards were back.

Weathermen said the return of foggy and cold conditions was not unusual and was related to several meteorological factors. They said foggy conditions would give way to the bright sun in two days. Due to foggy conditions till 1 pm, flights of Indian Airlines and Jet Airways from the city were delayed. An official of Jet Airways said the departure and arrival of their flights was delayed by two hours.

Commuters travelling by the Himalayan Queen could not reach their offices on time as the train was running late by two hours. Officials at the local railway station said trains were running at a restricted speed due to the fog. The morning Shatabdi Express was late by 30 minutes and the Paschim Express arrived two hours behind schedule. The Kalka Mail was late by five hours and the Lucknow-Chandigarh train arrived three hours behind schedule.

Daytime temperatures had gone up in the past 10 days. Local meteorological officials said the winter was over and the sudden fall in daytime temperature was the result of frequent changes in western disturbances. They said it had been an unusual January this year. The maximum temperature was at 17.8°C, two degrees below normal, while the maximum temperature yesterday was 23.2°C.

Mr S.C. Bhan, Director of the local meteorological department, said the foggy conditions were likely to be over by tomorrow. The maximum temperature would rise again when the surface of the earth radiated heat as a result of direct sunrays, he said.


Remove malba or seek storage permission
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
The Municipal Corporation has identified at least 700 local residents who have either stacked construction material or malba on the municipal land without obtaining prior permission from the authorities.

The ‘defaulters’ have been warned to either take required permission from the Municipal Corporation in the next seven days to stack the material or to remove the malba failing which they could be challaned, an official note signed by Mr M.P.Singh, Commissioner of the Municipal Corporation, said here today.

The defaulters would be required to pay the storage charges as levied by the MC. In case of any failure they would be required to pay the penal charges and the debris would also be removed at the cost of the owners.

The corporation had ‘requested’ people to dump their malba at authorised places in different sectors of the city. Residents, who had not removed the malba adjoining their residences could be ‘challaned’ up to Rs 500 besides a separate payment for removing the waste material.

The MC had also provided the facility for removal of waste material (malba) on a special request. The MC would lift the malba and dump it at authorised sites.

In December last year the MC had taken notice of construction material dumped at a wrong place near the house of Mr L.M.Goyal, a former Chief Secretary, Haryana. The material outside his house in Sector 7 was found to be scattered on the road.

That site had also been witness to a road accident, although a minor one, sources said. The MC had confiscated construction material from the site.

Mr K.B.Sharma, Chief Engineer, said the corporation had given a week’s time to every resident to respond. The corporation was the authority to decide the place for stacking the construction material which could be in the front, back or in the adjoining area near the house. Road accidents were the most feared incidents as a result of careless stacking of the construction material which had to be taken into account, he said.

Mr Sharma said that it was surprising that permission was not sought for storage of construction material in a large number of the cases of construction in the city.

The authorities would be forced to take action in case there was no response from the defaulters in the coming week. The parties concerned will be required to pay the fine through the water bills.


Stray cattle transported to Delhi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
As many as 220 heads of stray cattle, rounded up from various parts of the city earlier, were transported to the Dabur gaushala, at Delhi, by the Municipal Corporation, Chandigarh from here today. The stray cattle was being transported as a part of an earlier agreement.

The corporation had earlier sent 219 heads of cattle in two different batches. The entire lot, till now, had been transported without any payments to the 'gaushala'. In fact, the corporation was not required to make any payment for the first 500 cows.

The corporation had decided that a one-time payment of Rs 1000 would be paid per head in future and a budget of Rs 10 lakh had been planned on this account by the corporation which has been cleared by the Finance and Contract Committee.

The cattle heads sent today were packed in 19 trucks.

The corporation had one cattle shed in Sector 45. Construction work was currently on for the second phase of the project here. In addition to the existing facilities, the corporation had cleared a proposal for another gaushala at Maloya. The work is expected to commence soon.

To provide a respite from the cattle menace to the local residents the corporation had decided to leave the rounded-up cattle out of the Union Teritory, particularly near Paunta Sahib (Himachal Pradesh) in May last year. The trucks had been overloaded in terms of number of cattle heads transported in each individual truck.

The cattle was left in the forest area which had a heavy growth of thorny 'kikkar' plants. A large number of cows had fallen in the 'khuds' around and died. This had led to a lot of resentment among the public.

This was followed by a number of road accidents in the city, some of which had proved to be fatal. The Punjab and Haryana High Court had taken suo motu notice and asked the Punjab, Haryana and the UT Administration to act immediately about the menace.

As a part of the follow-up action, the corporation had then made a deal with the gaushala in Delhi and which also included a pact to accept the first lot of 500 heads of cattle totally free of cost. Besides, sidelining a decent amount of Rs 10 lakh for transporting more stray cattle outside the city in future, the corporation was also upgrading the existing facilities for housing more stray cattle in the city.


Insurance firm surveyor caught taking bribe
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
A Sector 20-based surveyor of New India Assurance, Avnish Sharma, was today caught red-handed by the CBI for allegedly taking a bribe of Rs 50,000 for clearing an insurance claim of Rs 10 lakh of a Patiala-based yarn company. The CBI detained an employee of Avnish Sharma and was verifying his involvement.

Unconfirmed reports said in a separate action, the CBI and made inquiries from a couple of Sector 22 and 40 medical shops to find out if they were getting medicines from the Central Government Health Scheme. The scam was being linked to former Union Health Minister C.P. Thakur. Avnish Sharma was caught after the CBI laid a trap at his Sector 20-based office and simultaneously raided his house in Panchkula. The CBI booked a senior officer of United India Assurance, but did not reveal his name.

The CBI was informed that the first installment of the agreed amount of Rs 50,000 was to be handed over to Avnish Sharma today. This followed the CBI laying a trap at the office of the surveyor in SCO 48, Sector 20. The CBI seized documents, his computer and currency counting machine. A team of the Central Forensic Science Laboratory was called, which took evidence from the office.


IAF copter towed to PEC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
A de-commissioned MI-8 helicopter of the Indian Air Force was towed to the Punjab Engineering College from the Air Force Station depot here late to-night. The aircraft which has been given a fresh coat of paint was towed to the college by the road.

To ensure that the movement of the motorcade was not hampered by the movement of traffic, the Chandigarh Police had made elaborate arrangements for the safe passage of the heavy machinery towing the aircraft. Police escort gypsies led the motorcade till the engineering college.

The aircraft will be formally handed over to the college at a ceremony. It took more than two hours for the motorcade to cover the distance. A special place has been earmarked for the helicopter to be placed within the college campus.

Once positioned at the college, students of the Aeronautical Department will soon get hands-on experience about the structure and functioning of helicopters.

This is perhaps for the first time that the Air Force has presented a helicopter to an educational institute. The college would be paying a token amount of Rs 15,000 for the aircraft.

The IAF will also be giving two TV-2 engines, which power the MI-8 along with the aircraft. While one engine will be installed in the helicopter, the other will be kept on a rig in the laboratory.

Special plaques depicting the helicopter’s technical specifications as well as the history of the MI-8 in the IAF service are also being prepared by 3 BRD, which will be installed alongside the helicopter.


Sluggish judicial system to hit globalisation, says Kokje
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 16
The problems of disposal of pending cases and of the ever-increasing number of cases in courts cannot be effectively resolved only by increasing the number of courts and judges and quality is bound to be compromised with every increase in the number of judges, said Himachal Pradesh Governor Justice Vishnu Sadashiv Kokje here today. He was addressing the audience after inaugurating the North India rounds of the International Law Moot Court Competition 2004 at the Army Institute of Law.

Stating that the pace of globalisation would be hampered by the sluggish judicial system, Justice Kokje emphasised that untrained and ill-trained lawyers and judges were finding it difficult to cope with their responsibilities, which caused delay in disposal of cases. Justice Kokje further said organising moot courts was the most effective method of teaching court craft.

“The simulated court atmosphere in moot courts gives the participant an opportunity to conduct the case without fear of causing irreparable harm to his client. He can afford to learn by trial and error in the moot court rather than do so in practice in a court of law,” he said.

The competition, named after Philip C. Jessup, former Justice, International Court of Justice, the Hague, is an annual event. It is for the first time that the national rounds in India were being hosted in North India, said Dr Veer Singh, Director-General of the institute, while welcoming the guests.

He added that for the past 10 years, the national rounds were being hosted in law schools in South India. “The competition proposition is a case before the International Court of Justice regarding the differences between two nations, imaginative of course, concerning the International Criminal Court,” he said.

Seventeen teams from various law institutes in India had reached the institute to participate in the two-day event. The winners of these rounds, along with a team from South India, would represent the country at the final competition in Washington in March.


Academic Council poll held
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
Elections of lecturers and principals to the Academic Council in colleges in Punjab and the city affiliated with Panjab University passed off peacefully here today.

Voting picked up around noon in local colleges and closed at 1:30 pm. At the college at Muktsar, closed for Makar Sankranti, the response was poor though the college authorities claimed that they had informed college lecturers of the voting schedule.

At a college at Sidhwan, ballot papers reached the centre at 11:30 am though voting was scheduled to begin at 9 am. Sources said the college authorities informed the office of the Registrar, after which ballot papers were despatched. Polling was rescheduled and held from 3 pm to 5 pm.

The Deputy Registrar, Mr S.C. Malhotra, refused to give reasons for the delay. The Registrar, Prof Paramjit Singh, was not available for comment.

Barring these two instances, voting elicited a good response. Out of 28 candidates, voters were supposed to select 15 lecturers to represent them on the Academic Council. Ballot boxes from all colleges of Punjab would reach the university by tomorrow and counting would take place in the Administrative Block, Panjab University, on the morning on January 19. The results would be declared the same evening.

However, with only eight candidates in the fray for 15 seats earmarked for college principals, votes were not cast though all principals who had filed their nomination papers would be declared elected along with the lecturers on January 19. All vacant seats would be filled through nominations made by the Vice-Chancellor.


Need for large dams highlighted
Tribune News Service

Yogendra PrasadChandigarh, January 16
Debunking theories which go against the concept of large dams, the Chairman of the National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC), Mr Yogendra Prasad, said today “We need to have large dams as future lay in harnessing water during the three-month long monsoon period for power generation, irrigation and drinking water”.

Mr Prasad, who heads one of the largest dam building organisation, was here to participate on the opening day of the two day seminar on various challenges being faced during the development of hydro projects in the country. The seminar is being organised by the Institution of Engineers India (IEI).

While detailing the advantages of large dams, he said they prevented flooding in plains and catered to drinking water requirements. They were ecologically better for the purpose of power generation and providing water for irrigation. Besides, the reservoir of the dams recharged ground water and also gave a boost to plantation, thus helped tackle the effects of global warming, Mr Prasad added.

Furthering his ideas on large dams, Mr Prasad said water stored in the reservoir provided good quality of drinking water. The monsoon season in the country lasted only three months and to store maximum water the size of the dam was imperative. On the power generation front also hydro power was the cheapest and the cleanest. Resources like coal were fast depleting and would finish in the next 30 to 40 years. The thermal power plants, which are using coal for power generation, were releasing carbondioxide. In case of hydro power there was no pollution, he added.

“India has tremendous potential to tap its hydro potential and at present only 25 per cent of power generation in the country is from hydro sources. Whereas in countries like Brazil and Norway it is close to 90 per cent. The setting up of a hydro plant costs more. However, the running cost is much less, thus it was better than a thermal plant,” he said.

The seminar named ‘‘Current trends in hydro projects and their rehabilitation’’ is aimed at examining the major challenges faced for development of hydro projects.


Police begins probe into kidnapping case
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 16
The Mohali police today started investigations into the alleged kidnapping of a Nawanshahr resident by a Mohali resident early this month while both of them were working in Auckland, New Zealand. The complainant, Mr Pavan Sood of Nawashahr, had alleged that his son, Amit Sood, was kidnapped in New Zealand by Amit's boss, Supinder Singh, who then asked Mr Sood to pay a ransom to his mother who lived in Phase II here.

According to the DSP, Mohali, Mr Harpreet Singh, the local police today contacted an Indian Police Officer working in Auckland through e-mail about the details of the case. ‘‘We are moving with caution in the case as all we have to go on in the case is the complaint of the father. Neither the victim nor any report from the New Zealand police confirming the kidnapping is available to the police here,’’ he said.

According to his complaint, Amit Sood had been working at a night club in Auckland as the night shift manager since April 2003. But Amit had to leave his job due to differences with the owner Mr Supinder Singh who belonged to Mohali. He further alleged that Amit was kidnapped by the owner and two others on January 2, and was told to deliver the ransom amount of Rs 2.7 lakh to his mother in Mohali. Mr Sood came to Mohali and reportedly contacted the police and reached the house of the mother who refused to take the amount.

However following a formal complaint to the SSP Ropar the police here has been asked to start investigations into the matter on the basis of the complaint. Sources in the police however added that they have reliable information that Amit Sood himself had been booked by the New Zealand police on charges of embezzlement.


Protest against eviction of resident
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 16
In reaction to an eviction drive carried out by the Enforcement Wing of the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) yesterday, a group of riot-affected families living in Phase XI met the Estate Officer today and complained against the alleged high-handedness of PUDA SDO (Buildings), Mr G.S. Tiwana.

According to sources, a PUDA team entered house No. 1435/7, Phase XI, team and threw all the stuff from the house out. All this was done in the absence of the occupants of the house last evening.

According to the PUDA authorities, those living in the house had been occupying it illegally since 1985. However, this house had been already allotted by PUDA to someone else and notices had been given to the occupants to leave the premises.

PUDA officials said that the occupant, Mr Kartar Singh, had been told to hand over the house to PUDA.

Other riot victims, who are settled in the neighbourhood, protested against the action stating that the PUDA team had no right to enter any one’s house in the absence of the occupants.

Mr Kartar Singh today said that he had received no notices from PUDA and the action taken against him was unfair. He alleged that most of the valuables had been stolen. “We have given a written complaint to the SP, Mohali, about the theft. We spent the night in the open in the absence of a home,” said Mrs Harjit Kaur, wife of Mr Kartar Singh.

The family, along with some local political leaders and the municipal member of the area, came to meet the Estate Officer, PUDA. When contacted, the Estate Officer, Mr T.K. Goel, said that action had been taken in accordance with the law. “We are merely following orders,” he said.


British Library gets bigger, better

Good things need not always come in small packaging. The British Library, which has now shifted base to a more spacious area, for providing better services to its patrons.

The newly renovated building of the library will be formally inaugurated by the British High Commissioner to India, Sir Michael Arthur, and Deputy Director General of the British Council, Mr Robin Baker, on January 21. With swanky new interiors, an all new children’s section, a café to rejuvenate yourself, and an additional membership of 3000, the British Library in Sector 9 hopes to serve the denizens of the City Beautiful in better manner.

Mr Sushant Banerjee, manager of the library, said “For a long time, there was demand for bigger premises with more books, and also to include a children’s section in the library. We have now shifted to an area which is double in area of the earlier premises, and includes a children’s section with 2,500 different books on varied subjects, besides CD ROMs and DVDs.”

The children’s section in the library, which caters to children till the age of 14, has books – fiction as well as non- fiction, by all standard English authors, and also books which are otherwise not available in the market.

The idea, says Mr Banerjee, is to introduce the concept of family membership, where the members’ children can be weaned away from television and can develop the habit of reading.

Other than changing the interiors of the Library, a number of new books have been added, bringing the total number of books available on subjects like management, engineering, medicine, fiction and computers, to 16,000. As compared to one terminal for online references earlier , two more terminals have been added. Mr Banerjee informs that the library now has a membership of 7000, and that another 1000 members will be included by March this year. TNS


Former sarpanch arrested
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, January 16
Following directions from the District Collector, Patiala, the Dera Bassi police has arrested Pawan Kumar, a former sarpanch of Khelan, for misappropriating funds sanctioned by the government for various development works in the village.

Taking serious note of the complaints by the villagers, the Block Development and Panchayat Officer (BDPO), after conducting an inquiry into the matter under Section 216 of the Panchayat Raj Act, had found embezzlement of funds. The BDPO had sent a comprehensive report to the District Collector about 15 days ago in this regard.

Pawan Kumar was today produced before the Collector (Grade-II) at Dera Bassi and was remanded in judicial custody.

In their complaints to the BDPO, the villagers had alleged that Pawan Kumar had misappropriated funds worth lakhs of rupees. The funds were released by the government for various development works in the village.


Man held with liquor
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, January 16
The Dera Bassi police arrested a man while carrying 20 cases (240 bottles) of liquor in a Maruti car last night.

According to Mr Manmohan Kumar Sharma, DSP, following a tip-off a resident of Lovkari village in Karnal, Subhash Kumar, was arrested while carrying bottles of liquor in his car at a naka on the Kalka-Ambala highway in Bhankharpur village, he claimed. Mr Sharma said Subhash used to carry liquor from Chandigarh and sell it on retail basis in the Saharanpur locality.

The police also impounded the car used by him. A case under the Excise Act has been registered against him.

It may be recalled that the police had earlier seized 2,750 pouches (55 bottles) of country-made liquor from a car on the Chandigarh- Ambala highway near Dera Bassi bus stop on January 10 night.


Welfare associations back Arora
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
Mr Jagdish Arora, a presidential candidate for the Chandigarh Beopar Mandal, has received the support of different market welfare associations as part of the campaigning for the forthcoming elections on Sunday.

The Traders Welfare Association, Sector 32, the Market Association, Sector 19, the Traders Association, Sector 7-C, the Furniture Market Union, Sector 34-C, and the Traders Association, Sector 17, have expressed their support for Mr Arora.

The rival of Mr Arora is Mr Charanjiv Singh. Today press notes were issued in his support under the heads of the Wholesale Cloth Market Association, Sector 20-D, the Market Welfare Association, Sector 20-C, and the Market Shopkeepers Association, Sector 18-C. He has already received the support from the Market Welfare Association, Sector 37, the Traders Association, Sector 22, and certain traders of Sector 44 and the Chandigarh Wholesale Cloth Merchants Association.


Tata Motors introduces new Indica V2 in city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
Mr Eric Vas, Deputy General Manager (Commercial Planning and Dealer Development), Tata Motors Ltd., today launched new Indica V2 in petrol and diesel versions with several added features in the city.

He said the company had launched this model with additional features without increasing the price. The new features would include sporty wheels, split rear seats, additional space and drum brakes. He announced that the new model would be priced at about Rs 3.5 lakh in the local market.

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