C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Panel tells Admn to cancel allotment
Misuse of houses for SC/ST families 
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
Taking a serious view of the illegal sale and purchase of houses constructed under the Ambedkar Awas Yojna, the National Commission of Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) has asked the Chandigarh Administration to cancel the allotment of these houses to hundreds of people who are occupying the houses despite being not belonging to the SC or ST.

Pointing out to the special housing scheme in Palsora-Sector 56 (located just south of Sector 39), the commission said that a large number of the houses, allotted under the Ambedkar Awas Yojna, were under occupation of people who were not the actual allottees. The commission asked the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) to conduct a survey. Those who were not actual allottees, should be evicted, the commission ordered.

The commission also pointed out to lacunae in the allotment process itself. Many of the SC and ST families had sold their houses on the basis of general power of attorney (GPA) for money. The commission said such allotments would be cancelled and houses should be allotted to fresh eligible candidates from the SC or ST families.

Sources said more than 1000 houses of one marla (24 sq yards) were constructed and given to allottees at a subsidised cost of Rs 70,000 each. Since this colony was located on the Chandigarh - Ludhiana, road, over the years the premium escalated. Lure of easy money made several SC, ST persons sell off their houses. Naturally the buyers were from non-SC and ST families. In the open market the entire complex was valued at crores.

Meanwhile, official sources in the Chandigarh Housing Board said it had been conveyed to the commission that a survey would be quite impractical and not feasible. Sources said when the allotment was made a clause was imposed that these units could not be sold off but it had been breached. The position was such that retail shops were being operated in the houses.

At present there was no policy for transferring the sold off units in the name of the purchaser. These units were allotted under special schemes and were not covered by the policy of the CHB to transfer flats in name of people who had purchased on basis of the GPA.

Meanwhile, the matter of selective demolitions in the same colony had been sorted out. The CHB had instructed its staff to avoid any action which would seem partisan and against the SC or STs. The commission had earlier received a complaint that illegal construction in houses occupied by SCs was being removed while houses in occupation of non-SC and ST families were left out from demolition.

Also the wine shop in the locality was to be closed down.


India tops our priority list, says Arthur
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
“We welcome the Islamabad Declaration and condemnation of terrorism,” says Mr Michael Arthur, new High Commissioner of Great Britain to India, holding that “India continues to top priority list of my country as three to five Secretaries (Cabinet Ministers) are expected to visit India in the next three months.”

“Great Britain,” he says,“ does not identify terrorism with any particular community or religion. Terrorism in any form is condemnable.”

In an exclusive interview with The Tribune here this evening, Mr Arthur, a career diplomat, says that “India is the country to do business with. After the Islamabad Declaration things have started looking up. The most important thing has been improvement of people-to-people relationship. Though Indo-Pak relations is a bilateral issue but we still welcome any condemnation of terrorism of any kind.We welcome and support this initiative of both countries.”

“Terrorism,” he says, “cannot be identified with one country or one community of people. There is terrorism in Ireland and Columbia. We do not equate terrorism with Islam,” he said, while referring to the statement General Musharraf had made in Istanbul during his ongoing visit to Turkey.

“India is very important to us. All will, however, depend upon the election scene in the country,” he says, while revealing that the visit of the Home Secretary, Mt David Blunket, will mainly focus on global issues of countering terrorism, better coordination between police forces of India and Great Britain and also to consider major transnational issues like trafficking in human beings and drugs.

“My visit to Chandigarh and Punjab is my first one after taking over as High Commissioner. It has nothing to do with the visit of the Home Secretary of Great Britain to India next week, but I had fruitful meetings with the Chief Minister of Haryana and Governor of Punjab O.P. Verma,” he said.

Accompanied by his wife, Mr Arthur also inaugurated the new building of the British Council Library in Chandigarh.

He said though there is an extradition treaty between India and Great Britain, both these democracies have strong and independent judiciaries. “We would love to extend whatever possible help in case any extradition is sought,” he said, holding that India was the biggest source of migrants to Great Britain. During 2003 British High Commission in India granted 2,60,000 visas to Indians which was almost more than twice number of visas given in any other country.

“We have changed the Immigration and Asylum Law. When India has a vibrant democracy why people from this country should seek political asylum,” he asked.

Mr Arthur clarified that increasing one-time entrance fee for new migrants to Great Britain was only a proposal and not a law as yet. “This again is to check the abuse of the system. Those who are serious about migrating to Great Britain for good just pay one time tax which is nothing compared to what other countries are charging.

“Indians in Britain have been doing very well,” he said, corroborating the recent statement of the Home Secretary that immigrants were paying more tax to Great Britain than the financial benefits they were driving from it. He said Great Britain continues to pursue an open-door policy for encouraging more and more of skilled manpower.

Great Britain has been biggest source of tourists to India. More than 3,00,000 Britons visited India last year.

Talking about upgrading visa collection centre to a regular Consul-General office, Mr Arthur said since the collection centres in Chandigarh and Jalandhar were doing an excellent job, there was no need to upgrade these offices to a regular consulate.

Later in the evening, Mr Arthur accompanied by his wife and other senior officials of the High Commission interacted with judges, top lawyers, bureaucrats, academicians and select journalists at the residence of Malhotras, who are working as immigration consultants, here.

British High Commissioner meets Verma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
The British High Commissioner, Sir Michael Arthur, today called on Punjab Governor and UT Administrator Justice O.P.Verma (retd) at Punjab Raj Bhavan.

Sir Michael Arthur discussed various issues of mutual interest with the Governor. The Governor informed the High Commissioner that Punjab was a frontline, progressive and vibrant state, which had made a mark, especially in the agricultural sector.

He said the UK could help Punjab by setting up joint ventures, especially in the areas of food processing, agro-processing and in post-harvest technology. With a large human resource base, especially in the information technology sector, Punjab was the right place for IT and biotechnology firms of the UK to set up their base.

Speaking about Chandigarh, Justice Verma said the city was fast emerging as technical hub of North India. He said in the upcoming IT park, a lot of multinational companies had evinced great interest. Moreover, a number of Scotland-based companies had shown keen interest in setting up biotechnology venture in the technology park.Back


Arthur dedicates library to city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
Formal inauguration of the new-look British Library in Sector 9 took off on a welcome note with the Director, British Council, India, Mr Edmund Marsden, promising a “virtual library” from April this year.

Well-received by the guests, the promise set the tone for the formal inauguration of the library which managed a good number of guests despite a rainy afternoon. Courtesy rain, parking hassles emerged right outside the Library complex where traffic police personnel were busy challaning people for wrong parking.

In attendance at the function, apart from Naqaals who enraptured the guests with the rendition of Punjabi folk, were dignitaries including the British High Commissioner to India, Mr Michael Arthur, who spoke of the new British Library as a symbol of bonding between the Indian and Britain.

With the Chief Minister, Haryana Mr Om Prakash Chautala, Minister for Higher Education Punjab, Mr Harnam Dass Johar (who came on behalf of Capt Amarinder Singh), Deputy Director-General, British Council, Mr Robin Baker, and Mr Edmund Marsden, in presence, Mr Arthur dedicated the library to Chandigarh.

Appreciative of the growth potential of the city, he talked about the shared historical concerns of Indian and Britain. “This building symbolizes the 21st century bond between India and Britain. Besides, testifying the fact that both Indians and the British have a sense of history in blood, this building reflects our growing aspirations. It offers a new, exciting kit to help youth reach out. As such, you, in India, are young as half of your people are below 25 years of age.”

Earlier Mr Marsden had referred to the creation of a new library as another medium to strengthen communication between the two nations. “This place is designed to enable people to participate in a healthy conversation. It is a forum for cultural, educational and social communication. It is modern, well-connected and user-friendly.” Also present at the inauguration was Mr Sabby Sen, architect of the library building.

Mr Robin Baker talked of worldwide operations of the British Council in 110 countries.

Just before the cultural programme that featured folk presentations — Challa, Jugni and Heer — by Meher Singh Mastana and his group, Chief Minister, Haryana, Mr Om Parkash Chautala, was at his humorous best, when he said that books were a great source of learning, but that he had very little chance of heading them.

“I last had the opportunity to read when Emergency had been imposed in India,” said the CM, adding that Haryana was making efforts to educate the poor.

When questioned on the two burning issues concerning India and Britain — arrest of Britisher David Patrick Ward, charged with fuelling Naga insurgency and offshoring of British call centre jobs to India and — the British High Commissioner was discreet in his answers. Replying to whether he would push for deportation of Patrick Ward, who, after being booked under the National Security Act, has been lodged in a prison in Nagaland, he said he was in India to help the British.

He however, added, “If we discover he has done anything wrong, we will look into the matter.” Back

Industry against flight of jobs, not UK govt: envoy
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
Sir Michael Arthur, British High Commissioner to India, today said that Britain was not turning protectionist but flight of jobs from Britain to Indian call centres was a matter of concern for the British public and labour unions.

Speaking at an interactive session organised here by the Confederation of Indian Industry (Northern region), Sir Michael said the British industry was doing what it thought was best for it and the British government had no role to play in it. Rather than curb any practices that would make British companies and the economy more competitive and globally aligned, the focus would be to reorient training and skills of the work force to benefit from the new investments in areas, much of which was coming from India.

Britain and India were developing new and different forms of economic relationships. He noted that India was now the eighth biggest overall investor into Britain, and the second largest from Asia, mostly in the new economy sectors.

He expressed the confidence that in terms of conventional trade too, the present level, which was close to $ 9 billion, was growing rapidly with services accounting for close to one fourth of that figure.

Sir Michael described integrated multinational partnerships in areas such as R and D and biotech, and the growing presence of Indian companies on the London Stock Exchange as new dimensions of a longstanding relationship. Further, Britain would work with India on the WTO and liberalisation related issues.

Stressing that education was a major area for bilateral linkages between the two countries, Sir Michael said he would like to see the present number of 14, 000 Indian students in the UK to double during his tenure.

Mr S.K.Bijlani, former Chairman, CII and Mr Krishan Goyal, Chairman, CII, Chandigarh council, also spoke.


Abandoned child finds a home
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 21
Today is the happiest day in the lives of Rajwati and Aalam. The childless couple living in a slum in Phase 1 here has ‘adopted’ a three-day old girl child found abandoned on the Kharar-Ludhiana road this morning.

Nothing short of miracle, the child, abandoned two days ago, survived the biting cold and hunger. The two-day old infant was found lying in the open amidst a thick growth of bushes lining the road.

Barely clad, the child wrapped in a turban, was found by a group of women yesterday looking for herbal plants in the wilderness. The day passed without any of them bothering to do anything about it. One of the woman, Gomti, mentioned the child to Rajwati at night who decided to retrieve the child first thing in the morning.

“She went weak with joy on seeing the child, who was in a state of semi-consciousness. We picked up the child and brought her into our jhuggi here. An elderly woman in the colony gave her a bath, clad her in warm clothes and handed her over to Rajwati, who will now mother the child,” said Aalam, Rajwati’s husband, who works as a daily-paid worker in Mohali.

The child is seen as a gift from God by the couple. “I would take care of my sister-in-laws’ children as I have no children of my own,” said Rajwati.

Gomti explained that the child was lucky to have survived the cold and even luckier to have been found by the women. “The place where the child had been left is rarely visited. We go there everyday because we look for medicinal plants. But this child is special. She was being protected by an ox who stood next to the child yesterday and today,” she said.

The child was shown to a doctor who told the couple it was not more than three days old and was in good health, despite having remained hungry for two days.

The mood in the colony was festive with a crowd outside Rajwati’s hut to have a look at the child and congratulate the couple on having become ‘parents’.


Only 35 out of 99 sites sold
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
The auction of commercial property by the local municipal corporation(MC) today saw a mixed response as only 35 out of the total 99 could be sold. Those in prime locations were sold off at good rates. In other cases, the MC had to withdraw the sites due to lack of good bids.

The cold condition was also seen as the reason that kept the bidders away. The fact that the Chandigarh Administration had carried out a major auction on December 8, 2003, is also seen as the major reason for poor bids.

The MC netted a sum of approximately Rs 15 crore from these 35 sites. These 35 sites carried a collective reserve price of about Rs 10.89 crore. This means that the MC made nearly 50 per cent more money than the reserve price.

The showrooms in Mani Majra, on the Chandigarh-Panchkula road, topped the list. A showroom in Mani Majra for which the fixed price was listed at Rs 1.57 crore was sold for Rs 3 crore. This was the highest bid for any property on auction today. The bid for the showroom in Mani Majra was “not bad” even when compared to a showroom sold by the administration in Sector 34 in its December 2003 auction. The administration sold off the Sector 34 property for Rs 6.90 crore for a 561 square yard plot. This works out to be Rs 1.22 lakh per square yard.

The MC got a price of Rs 1.03 lakh per square yard for the property in Mani Majra which measured 289.41 square yards.

There were no takers for the booths on the subway between Sectors 17 and 22. The entire lot of booths were withdrawn from the auction.

The auction was conducted under the chairmanship of Mr Arun Sekhri, Joint Commissioner. Mr Rajesh Gupta, Mr Sohan Lal and Mr Vijay Rana, all councillors, oversaw the proceedings of the auction.

The time fixed for the auction was 10 am. The process, however, got under way around 12 noon. The auction continued under a tent despite a mild drizzle during the earlier part of the day. In the afternoon session, it started raining heavily and the auction venue had to be shifted indoors.

An official of the corporation said the auction was conducted fairly. There were reports of certain property dealers doing the rounds of the site.



Rain intensifies cold
Brings cheer to farmers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
The city and its surrounding areas continued to reel under the cold wave conditions as rain lashed the area intensifying the cold wave conditions. The local Met office said the rain and cold wave conditions would continue tomorrow. In the city and surrounding areas normal life was affected. Trains were delayed. Road traffic was the worst hit.

The minimum temperature rose slightly in the night. It was recorded at 10°C. The day time temperature was at 14.4°C which was 6 degrees below the normal average for this time of the year. Yesterday also the day-time temperature was 14.5°C. However, the rain today added to the chill.

Early morning fog had affected arrival of major trains arriving into the city as all trains were delayed by a couple of hours.

The roads were risky to drive in the morning. Thousands of daily commuters got late to work as buses were running behind schedule. In the evening several local people returning from offices, were caught unawares in the rain.

For farmers in the surrounding areas the rain was good as it was good for the vegetables. In area around the city several farmers grow vegetables.

Meanwhile, Mr Surinder Pal Singh of the local Met office, said the rain had occurred due to Western disturbances over J& K and also cyclonic circulation over north Rajasthan adjoining Haryana.

Among the trains running late were the Shatabdi which arrived here in the morning, the Himalayan Queen, the Sadbhavna Express (Chandigarh- Lucknow), the Howrah-Kalka Mail and the Jodhpur-Kalka express.


Mi-8 copters to be phased out
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
Over three decades after it first flew in Indian skies, the workhorse of the IAF’s helicopter fleet is on the way out. Beginning this year, the Air Force will be de-commissioning old Mi-8 choppers which are too old to meet statutory flying requirements.

“The technical life of Mi-8s belonging to the first batch procured by the IAF is expiring,” a senior officer at No.3 Base Repair Depot (BRD) here, confirmed. The depot is responsible for the maintenance and overhaul of Mi-series helicopters in the IAF’s inventory. In fact, the Mi-8 given by the IAF to Punjab Engineering College here is among the first lot to be retired from service due to its age.

Sources said that over the next four years, older Mi-8s would be de-commissioned, though similar choppers procured during later stages were expected to remain in service up to another 15 years or so. The Mi-8s, which have already undergone several life extension programmes, will be replaced by the more powerful Mi-17 and the indigenously developed Advanced Light Helicopter, Dhruv.

The original lifespan of the Mi-8 was stated to be 20 years by the manufacturer, but life extension programmes by the IAF enhanced it to 30 years. While some Mi-8s have completed the stipulated life, others are as young as 16 years.

Though the IAF had been de-commisioning Mi-8 choppers after they had been damaged beyond economical repairs due to accidents, It is only now that the de-commissioning process on account of old age has begun. The last type of helicopter phased out of the IAF service was the Mi-4, a total of 120 of which had served the Air Force for about 20 years after being inducted in 1962.

Inducted into the IAF over a period from 1971 to 1985, the 100-odd Mi-8s in the IAF presently equip eight helicopter units. These medium lift roto-crafts are used for transport, communication, para-dropping, casualty evacuation and special heli-borne operations. Specially modified Mi-8s also equip a special detachment attached to Air Headquarters for VVIP duties.

After the first batch of Mi-8 procured from the erstwhile Soviet Union neared the end of their stipulated life span, life extension studies conducted by 3 BRD recommended that they could remain in service beyond 30 years. “We are now finding that some of these aircraft cannot operate safely beyond 32-33 years,” an officer said.

Some of the Mi-8 units are being progressively re-equipped with the advanced version of the Mi-17 IV. The IAF had ordered 40 such helicopters and a few have been delivered. The IAF is also in the process of inducting the Dhuv. The first two Dhruvs ordered by the IAF entered service in March, 2002. While the number of Mi-17s being procured is less than half the number of Mi-8s to be de-commissioned, the load and passenger carrying capability of Dhruv is half that of the Mi-8.

The IAF presently has about 80 Mi-17s, equipping six helicopter units.


Bid to hit my car, alleges Geeta Hooda
Our Correspondent

Panchkula, January 21
Dr Geeta Hooda, nee Grewal, daughter-in-law of Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, today alleged that someone tried to hit her car on the busy Kalka-Ambala highway, near Dera Bassi, last night.

Meanwhile, the Panchkula police reportedly interrogated family members of Mr Hooda, Leader of the Opposition in the Haryana Vidhan Sabha, in New Delhi today. However, details of the interrogation could not be ascertained. Efforts to contact Dr Geeta who wished to talk to the press today proved futile.


Eco Notes
Administration launches fight against Lantana camara
Vishal Gulati

Lantana camara, commonly known as ghaneri, has spread its tentacles in and around the Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary and other forest areas of the Chandigarh, resulting in decline of biodiversity.

Concerned over its menace, the Forest Department, Chandigarh, started an eradication drive in 2001 which will continue till 2006. The department plans to weed out from 1,000 hectares of the sanctuary (about 50 per cent of the total area) and 370 hectares from other forest areas, including the Sukhna choe and the Patiala-ki-Rao.

Noxious weed like lantana grows under varying conditions. A native of tropical Central America, lantana grows abundantly in the catchment areas of the Sukhna. It was first introduced in India from Australia around 1810 as an ornamental plant.

This hardy flowering shrub grows faster in comparison to the indigenous plant species. Its growth can choke all vegetation, including trees. It can also catch fire quickly, thus posing a great threat to the forest area.

The department is manually removing it. The annual drive that began in October is on. The drive is carried out in these months as the Shivaliks are fragile during the rainy season and soil erosion can take place, says Mr Ishwar Singh, Deputy Conservator of Forests.

Till date roughly 770 hectares have been cleared. While removing lantana care is taken to retain indigenous herbs, shrubs and trees. Results show that indigenous species like vansa, kari patta, dhak, giloe and ratti have come up on patches that were cleared of lantana.

Regarding the chances of return of the weed, Mr Ishwar Singh says first year’s experience showed that about 20 per cent of the weed reappeared after the first year of its removal. By the third year, resurfacing of the weed was minimal.

To stop lantana growth along the choe’s banks, nada has been planted. To supplement natural regeneration, fast-growing species, including bamboo, neem, papri and jungle jalebi, were planted.

Prof R.K. Kholi, Department of Botany, Panjab University, says manual removal is better than chemical and biological methods.

However, the weed is of ecological importance also. Bugs, beetles, moths and butterflies feed on its sap. Its fruit is largely devoured by birds and it is considered to be a good for soil as well.


Red Cross to identify landmine victims
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
In the absence of data about the number of landmine victims and the extent of the problem in India, the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC), will launch a hunt for the affected persons all along the border areas in Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir and Rajasthan.

“As compared to some other nations the problem in India is not so grave as it is restricted to only the border areas in Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir and Rajasthan, but there is no data to show how many landmine victims are there and the population affected by it,” said Mr Boris Cerina, Co-operation Delegate from the International Committee of the Red Cross and a landmine expert.

It is with the help of Red Cross volunteers that victims will be identified and awareness campaign will be launched in the border districts of Ferozepore, Gurdaspur and Amritsar. A daylong workshop for 30 teachers and students from these affected areas was organised at the Punjab Red Cross Regional Training Centre here today.

During the campaign wooden models and pictures of landmines will be shown to people, so that their lives can be saved. Once the data is collected, it will be shared with the Army and the Indian campaign for ban on landmines, so that there are no chances of duplication. It is after the preliminary data is collected that information and education activities like distributing literature and organising theatre performances in these areas will be undertaken, added Mr Cerina.

“The main objective of holding this workshop is to initiate a data collection programme and create awareness that such mishaps can be averted,” he said. Once the extent of the problem is known, efforts will be made to provide artificial limbs, therapy and rehabilitation of the victims, he added.

Mr Cerina along with Ofor Nwobodo, Regional Co-operation Delegate, ICRC, said though the Army and other agencies informed the locals before laying landmines but these kept shifting due to rain, snow and sand storms. This also posed hurdles in the demining which was undertaken by the Army in the border areas.

He said during his interaction with the villagers in the border areas he found that it was mostly farmers, who went out to work in the fields, who had been injured by landmines. The other group affected by landmines was children, who out of curiosity ended up meddling with landmines and in the process got injured.

Talking about the campaign for ban on landmines, Mr Cerina said that 140 countries had already signed the Otawa Treaty, whereby they had agreed not to use any anti-personnel mines. “Both Pakistan and India are yet to sign this treaty and since joining it is an act of free will by a nation there is little we can do about it,” remarked Mr Cerina.


Look beyond Pak, says ex-Foreign Secy
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
Focusing on the need to explore and link up mid-West and Central Asia with India to make headway in the strategic and economic areas, the international seminar on “Language, Culture and Society in mid-West and Central Asia,” which began at Golden Hall, Panjab University, here today, emphasised on the need to look beyond Pakistan. In the keynote address, the former Foreign Secretary, Mr Lakhan Lal Mehrotra, stressed the need for working upon a close relationship with countries of the mid-West and Central Asia. “We must have increased contact, high-level visits, mounting cultural and trade ties. Whenever we look out towards the mid-west, we can’t look beyond Pakistan which has impaired our judgement. There is a growing need to delink the mid-West from Pakistan and explore a relationship,” he said.

Beginning from the times of the Cold War to the collapse of the USSR and the emergence of new states, Mr Mehrotra said these states, though bubbling with their new-found freedom, needed political and economic support.” India is alert about the developments though it has maintained safe distance from the international chess game being played by the super power,” he informed.

He emphasised the need for ethnicity and racial harmony. “These states have diverse religions like India. They must see their cultural diversity as an asset. Also, there is need for sustained economic reforms and achievement of macro-economic stabilisation,” he said. The chief guest, adviser to UT Administrator, Lalit Sharma, inaugurated the seminar. Earlier, the Panjab University Vice-Chancellor, Prof K.N. Pathak, in his address, emphasised the need to promote a mid-West and Central Asia studies centre in the northern part of India so that more data could be generated for greater understanding of language, culture and society. The vote of thanks was presented by Prof M.M. Sharma, secretary, Organising Committee of the seminar.


Government yet to resume excavation work at Chhatt village
Bipin Bhardwaj

Zirakpur, January 21
Even after two years, the government is yet to resume the excavation work at the historic Chatt village, which yielded artifacts and ruins of the Harappan civilisation, thanks to the paucity of funds.

There seems to be no hope for the excavation work that was stopped two years ago. The excavation had established the links of this small and sleepy village with Harappan civilisation.

The barbed wire fencing around the mound, measuring 1,000 square feet, has been breached at many places and is being used as a grazing ground.

A visit by The Tribune team to the site revealed that the walls of the excavated site have been washed away, the separation walls have collapsed, the excavated rooms were refilled with loose soil and trash. Shrubs and thickets have also come up at the site. Barbed wire was being used by the villagers for drying their clothes.

It seems that this site after Sanghol, has been left on the mercy of the nature. Sheer negligence on the part of the state government has dashed the hopes of the people of this region about the possibility of finding artifacts with the suspension of the excavation work.

Sources in the department revealed that the excavation work which started in April, 2002, after some artifacts were discovered, came to a standstill just after two and a half months due to the lack of funds.

Highly placed sources in the department disclosed that the government had sanctioned a little money for the excavation work. A major part of the sanctioned money was spent on purchasing new tools and other important containers to store the artifacts while only one fourth was spent on the excavation work.

Similar problem was faced by the department in 2001 while excavating 600 sq feet area within the premises of Banda Bahadur Singh Gurdwara of the village. The problem was highlighted by the Tribune and the work was restarted after the gap of one year. After repairing some structure and chambers the area was fenced by the department.

Mr R.V. Ratnam, Department of Cultural Affairs, Archaeology and Museums, Punjab, was not available for comments. However, Mr K.K. Rishi, Archaeology Officer, admitted that funds shortage was hampering the excavation work at Chhat village.


Audit objects to PGI purchase of ACs
Pratibha Chauhan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
The PGI might cry itself hoarse about acute shortage of funds when it comes to routine hospital expenditure, but is magnanimous in shelling out Rs 30.89 lakh for the 59 window-type airconditioners, that too in areas which are already centrally airconditioned.

The latest audit report has termed this expenditure of Rs 10.03 lakh on purchase of AC’s, along with Rs 21.24 lakh as running cost of electricity charges, as unnecessary, irrational and illogical.

The bio-medical division of the PGI engineering wing has been asked to justify this expenditure. It had been entrusted with the responsibility of operation and maintenance of all window-type airconditioners.

Listed as Para 16 in the Audit Report for 2002-03, it has been observed that either the system of central airconditioning is not functioning properly in the area, or the ACs have been installed unnecessarily to exhaust funds. Costing Rs 17,000 each, the money spent on the purchase of these ACs is Rs 10.03 lakh.

It has been further observed that in case the ACs operate for six hours from 8 am to 2 pm daily, the monthly electricity consumption charges per AC will work out at Rs 3,000. As such, the aggregate amount for running these 59 ACs will be Rs 21.24 lakh per year.

The PGI electrical and airconditioning division has also come in for flak for making an unjustified expenditure of Rs 8.29 lakh on engaging labour on a contract basis at an average of Rs 1.38 lakh per month.

It has further been observed that this expenditure is unjustified as the annual maintenance and service contract of all vital airconditioning and other installations are being done by different agencies. The contract for this has already been awarded by the PGI to eight contractual agencies at a cost of Rs 15.88 lakh for a period of three years. These agencies attend to daily complaints of these installations.

A senior official of the division, when contacted, refused to comment, saying that he was not authorised to talk to the media, while adding that they had sent a reply to the audit.


Wage war against conflicts, says Swedish expert
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
The Iraq war was over with the capture of Saddam Hussein. The ramification of the war, now is manifesting itself in the changing world order. Though the “might is right” belief of the Americans dominated the war period in Iraq, post-war the countries are faced with the option of going it alone, like the US did in Iraq, or working collectively to establish a new world order.

So believes Prof Peter Wallensteen, Head of the Dag Hammarskjold Chair in Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University, Sweden. In the city for a lecture at Panjab University here today, he said,” Joining hands and working together by reforming the Security Council and strengthening the United Nations is the only alternative before us. Treading the path of the US would mean reverting to an order where might dictates and anarchy and conflict is rampant,” he opined.

Advocating reforms in the Security Council, he said the UN must have instruments which were more effective and stringent. “These should include preparing sanctions which target leadership rather than the population.”

Stressing that innocent people were victims in war and terrorist acts, he said: “In Iraq, innocent people lost their lives though the US had waged a war against terror and terrorism. In the terrorist attack on the US on September 11, 2001, it was the same story. In Sweden on September 11, 2003, our Foreign Minister was shot in a shopping mall which sent shock waves in the community. All these are attacks on the democratic forms of life and these need to be checked,” he emphasised.

While stating that countries should guard against internal conflicts as well, Prof Wallensteen said: “Internal conflict can result in a spillover to the boundaries and create instability in the entire region. This necessitates that there should be cooperation among leading actors on the world stage to wage a war against conflict rather than each other.”

He was of the opinion that countries of the world must own responsibility towards people who are suffering. “It is when governments are not doing anything to alleviate the suffering of their people but are contributing to their woes that the role of the global community comes in. All nations must join hands to help them without going the US way of taking upon themselves the task of setting things straight, unmindful of world opinion,” he concluded.


Conference on cyber law
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
A two day “Conference on e-security, cyber crime and law” will be held in the city on February 19 and 20. The Mahatma Gandhi State Institute of Public Administration, Government of Punjab (MGSIPAP) in association with Society for Promotion of IT in Chandigarh (SPIC) is organising the conference at Hotel Shivalik View.

It would address legal and technical issues of e-security. The conference would focus on presentations to address the key segments, including the implementation experience, best practices, and case studies for data security, cyber crimes and cyber laws. The conference would cover four tracks on network security, data security, computer forensic and cyber law.

The speakers will include recognised government, industry and academic experts involved in dealing with issues of concern on the conference theme.

Some of the key speakers include Mr K. K. Jaswal , Secretary, Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, Government of India, Mr Karan A Singh, Secretary, IT, Chandigarh Administration and Mr N S Kalsi, Director-cum-Secretary, Department of IT, Punjab.

The areas of crucial importance on computer forensic, especially for the judiciary and police would be addressed by Mr Loknath Bahera from the Cyber Crime Research and Development Unit of Government of India, Mr Muktesh Chander from Goa.

Some of the other experts to speak in the conference include Mr Pawan Duggal and Mr Vakul Sharma, cyber law experts.

Papers would also be presented on developing practical solutions to problems in e-security, cyber crime investigations and analysis; data retrieval and analysis; legal problems, issues, or innovations; or problems related to infrastructure protection.

The conference would be attended by decision makers from government, CIO, CEOs, network administrators, IT professionals, judiciary, police, students of e-commerce, computer science and law etc.

The details for the conference are available at www.mgsipap.org/esecurity .


Verification campaign
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 21
The police started a verification campaign in the township here today. As many as 180 persons were verified during the first day of the campaign at the Phase 1 police station.

The SHO Phase 1, Mr Bhupinder Singh, told The Tribune that residents of the township had been asked to verify the antecedents of their tenants and house help.


Demand to stop restructuring of Survey of India
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
The Coordination Committee of the Survey of India Association held a meeting yesterday to express concern over the restructuring of the Survey of India saying it suits only the Class I officers. The interests of Group B, C and D employees have been crushed and their numbers pruned.

The employee body said the number of directors had been increased even as the national exchequer stood burdened. The association said the restructuring should stop.


National Adventure Festival from Feb 1
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
The National Adventure Club (India) will organise the 10th National Adventure Festival from February 1 to 8, here. Mr Ram S. Varma, President of the National Adventure Club, said here today. Around 300 boys and girls from all over the country between the age group of 17 to 34 will participate in various adventure sports activities like trekking, rock climbing, para sailing, river rafting, kayaking and canoeing skiing slithering, gliding etc.

The festival is being sponsored by the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. Back


HP Helpline
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
The Tribune Employees HP Helpline Cultural and Welfare Society, Chandigarh, will organise its third annual “Parivar Milan Samaroh” here on January 26.

Mr K.D. Sultanpuri, a former MP and a member of the AICC, will preside over the function while Mr Satya Prakash Thakur, Chairman, Himachal Pradesh Marketing Board, will be the chief guest.

Artists of the HP Public Relations Department will present a colourful cultural programme on the occasion.Back


Multilingual news agency inaugurated
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
Free Press of Nation (FPN), a multilingual news and feature agency, was inaugurated here yesterday. The English version of the agency was inaugurated by The Hindu correspondent Sarbjit Pandher. The Hindi version was inaugurated by senior journalist Pushp Kumar Singh and the Punjabi version by Ajit correspondent Baljit Balli. The inauguration ceremony was organised at the seminar hall of Punjab Book Centre.

Mr Ashok Malik, Assistant Editor, Dainik Tribune, addressed the gathering. He said technological development had facilitated the functioning of news agencies. FPN’s Chief Editor Santosh Gupta gave a detailed account of various projects of the organisation. Managing Editor S.K. Chaudhary also spoke on the occasion.Back


Tribune employees bereaved
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
Mr Ram Singh (98), father of Mr Kiranpal Singh, senior operator of Dainik Tribune, and Mr Mahipal Chaudhary, Rotary Foreman in The Tribune, died today after a brief illness. He was cremated in his native village Babyal in Ambala district. He is survived by six sons and two daughters.


Girl child was strangled to death, says autopsy report
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
The autopsy report of the girl child allegedly killed by her mother, Geeta, in the PGI has established that she was strangulated to death.

The police has taken samples of Geeta and her daughter for a DNA test to establish the infant was that of Geeta, the police said.

The report has confirmed that the girl was choked to death as established by marks on her nose and mouth.

The samples of DNA have been sent to the Central Forensic Science Laboratory here.

The report corroborates the statement by Geeta that she had killed the child.


Man held for minor’s kidnap
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 21
The police today arrested one person on charges of kidnapping a minor and keeping her in illegal confinement. The accused, Malik-ul-Islam, was arrested from Muradabad by the Mohali police team yesterday, four months after a case under Sections 366 and 363 was registered against him.

Malik-ul-islam, was booked on a complaint by Mohan Singh, a resident of village Madanpura here, who alleged that he had ‘kidnapped’ his minor daughter who worked as a help at his house in Mohali.

Malik-ul-islam who worked in Semi Conductors Limited (SCL) here, left the town with the girl in September last year. Sources said the girl had willing gone along with the accused and both had reportedly got married in a church in Mohali.

Malik, who had been on leave from his company, had sent a marriage certificate to his employers after the case was registered against him.

The two were brought from Muradabad by the police. While the accused has been sent to two days of police remand, the girl was sent to Nari Niketan, Jalandhar, after a medical examination. Sources in the police said the girl claimed to be a major.


Gambling racket unearthed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
The crime branch of the Chandigarh Police today claimed to have unearthed a gambling racket extending to Delhi, nabbing an operator from Bapu Dham.

Ashok Kumar, alias Khappu, was arrested along with a gambled amount of Rs 20,150 from Bapu Dham. Ashok Kumar is touted as one of the biggest operators of the city, according to the police.

The police has sent 12 raiding parties to different places in the city on the basis of information provided by Ashok Kumar during interrogation.

The police said a large number of city punters were commission agents of Delhi-based operators dealing in crores.

Ashok Kumar was “khanewala” category of punters, who were rare in the city. The police said Ashok Kumar used to make calculation charts of double-digit gambling taking out a most probable number. The crime branch said he would sell the number found most favoured to other punters in Delhi.


Mobile pocket PC launched
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
Masterline Chandigarh has ventured into Windows-powered GSM mobile pocket PC with the all-new Qtek 2020 which was launched in the city today.

Qtek 2020 will be one of the first Windows-powered GSM mobile phone to be launched in India, according to Mr Naresh Nanda, managing director of Masterline. He said the use of data services via Wi-Fi and GPRS through Windows Mobile 2003 based devices such as pocket PCs and smartphones was the new revenue driving stream for the future, after the sharp decline of revenue on voice and sms.

“Time has come for the cellular operators to look into developing and sharpening marketing tools and encouraging and driving intelligent mobile customers to avail of the services of these platforms, especially by use of data-centric devices such as Qtek 2020. Perfectly sized into a human palm, this 190 gm device performs the functions of a desktop pc and that of a smart mobile phone.

The truly innovative Qtek 2020 has 65,536 colours, 3.5 inches high-resolution, graphical, colour TFT-LCD, colour screen small enough to fit on a compact phone yet big enough to view e-mails and images, and browse the web. The phone also comes with a high resolution digital camera-cum-video recorder facility, with options to vary colour, focus, night/day mode and long length recording. 

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