C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


UT staff wages up from April 1
Those living in own houses biggest gainers
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 6
Employees of the Chandigarh Administration and its boards and corporations are in for a windfall. Their salaries are going to rise substantially from April 1. The rise will vary between Rs 400 and 1,500, depending upon the status of the employee and also the fact if the employee occupies a government house or not.

The biggest gainers will be those who are living in own houses. Working couples will gain doubly. Those living in government houses will gain the least, as only the DA will rise marginally.

All this will mean an additional burden of about Rs 20 crore on the exchequer in the next financial year. Sources said rough estimates have been drawn up but this does not include the expenses to be incurred by boards and corporations like the Chandigarh Housing Board or the Chandigarh Industrial Tourism Corporation.

There are about 25,000 employees of the Chandigarh Administration and another 3,000 people work in the boards and corporations.

The rise in salaries will come about as the Chandigarh Administration is bound by the Re-organisation of States Act, 1966, to follow the Punjab pattern of service conditions for its employees.

Well-placed sources in the Administration said the rise in salaries cannot be stopped and it has to be given. Already the Punjab Government and also the Central Government have decided to merge a large part of the dearness allowance (DA) with the basic salary of the employees. The existing DA is fixed at 59 per cent of the basic salary.

Out of this 50 percent of the DA will be merged with the basic salary. Thus after the new scales come into being the DA will be at 9 percent.

The new scales will mean higher house rent allowance and also a changed calculation for the remaining portion of the DA. The house rent at present is calculated at 15 per cent of the basic wage. When 50 per cent of the DA will be merged with the basic it will effectively mean a jump of 50 percent in basic salary. A Rs 10,000 basis salary will become Rs 15,000. Correspondingly the house rent will go up from Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,250, a jump of Rs 750.

Besides this, the employees will also gain from the new calculation for the DA. The DA component will be 9 per cent of the basic salary. Now on the increased basic salary the calculation for DA will mean a rise of between Rs 400 and Rs 700, depending upon the wage of the employee.

Sources said another section of big gainers will be people who will retire after April 1. The pension is calculated on around 50 per cent of the basic pay thus this will also mean more pension.

With respect to travel allowances, LTC and eligibility for various other perks like government house or car, which hinge upon the basic salary, the old basic will be taken into account. Or else the Administration can choose to have fresh notifications to create benchmarks for eligibility.



Car rams into stationary truck, 2 killed
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, February 6
Journey of two Patiala residents to pay obeisance at Gurdwara Nadda Sahib in Panchkula ended when their car rammed into a stationary truck on the Chandigarh-Patiala highway in Nabha village in the wee hours today.

The deceased have been identified as Gurwinder Singh (50) and Amarjit Singh (43) from Patiala. Mr Satnam Singh, who was accompanying the duo, sustained serious injuries and was rushed to the Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, Chandigarh.

The police said the three were going in their car (CH-01L-4391) towards Panchkula when it rammed into the truck (NHQ-2781).

It may be mentioned that the truck was parked on the highway after it had a head-on collision with a Punjab Roadways bus on Wednesday evening. In the accident, 10 persons, including a woman, had sustained serious injuries. The vehicles were not removed from the site, which caused congestion on the road and claimed two lives, today, residents of the area said.

Soon after the incident, passersby and residents of the area assembled and pulled out Mr Satnam Singh after breaking open windows of the car. Family members and relatives of the victims reached the spot soon after getting the information.

Bodies of Gurwinder Singh and Amarjit Singh were extricated with the help of a crane.

The car, the truck and the bus were today removed from the site. The police has started inquest proceedings.



Hawara told accomplices not to risk lives
Sanjay Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 6
Dreaded terrorist Jagtar Singh Hawara had told his accomplices not to put their lives at risk, as the cadres of his movement had drastically depleted.

“Hawara had told Paramjit Singh Bheora, Jagtar Singh Tara and Dev Singh, while going to Sirhind in a car, not to risk their lives,” Baljit Kaur has reportedly told the police during interrogation.

According to Baljit Kaur, Hawara was not ready to carry out terrorist strikes immediately to avoid detection by the police and was more interested in reaching a safe place before starting the regrouping of his cadres.

Interrogation of Narain Singh Chaura has also confirmed that there could not be any immediate plans to carry out strikes. Hawara had told Chaura that he would contact the latter for further directions. These directions could have been towards working for a common cause.

The police has now reached an estimation that the tunnel might have been dug within three months. Baljit Kaur’s jailed husband Lakhwinder Singh, who is in the police custody, had revealed that he had the knowledge about the digging of the tunnel. Lakhwinder was told by Paramjit Singh Bheora during one of the meetings that they had dug a tunnel after two and half months of effort.

Lakhwinder was told by Paramjit on January 5 that a tunnel was ready from the barrack of Hawara.

The Crime Branch today got the police remand of Baljit Kaur extended till February 10 to ascertain the route taken by Hawara while escaping from the jail. The police has taken Baljit Kaur on the route twice but she has been unable to pinpoint the place where the terrorists might have alighted from the car.

Meanwhile, conflicting statements have emerged from Gurnam Singh, who was arrested yesterday, and Baljit Kaur. While Baljit Kaur had said that the SIM card of the mobile she used exclusively to talk with Hawara was with Gurnam Singh, Gurnam Singh said he had no such card.

A police party will recover the mobile set and the SIM card tomorrow from Patiala. The police is also likely to get the printouts of the Hawara’s mobile to tally with the statements of Chaura and Baljit Kaur.

Baljit Kaur and Hawara had had at least 50 telephonic conversations in January. The police is also looking into the suggestion that the tunnel was dug with hand tools, but is awaiting a report from experts in this regard.

The police has found out that the engineering input in the tunnel digging came from the book “Great Escapes” recovered from former Deputy Superintendent of Jail V.M. Gill. The police said the cover kept on the exit of the tunnel was taken through the tunnel and it was made possible by the design of the tunnel. It said the cover was perforated to affix carrot leaves so that it could be camouflaged in the fields. The police said the conspiracy to dig the tunnel began in January, 2003. Hawara and others started out by testing the vigilance of the jail staff by drawing curtains and keeping taps open throughout the night. They also kept their lights switched off. When these violations did not attract the attention of the authorities, they started the work on the tunnel.

The police said the horizontal digging of the tunnel might not have taken much time as the soil was soft. The earth found in 40 sacks recovered from the barrack was the one that came out from the vertical digging towards the exit.

The police also found out that the septic tanks of the barrack had been choked twice, prompting the fugitives to dispose of the loose earth somewhere else.



Police gets list of persons to be monitored
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 6
The Intelligence Wing of the police has been issued a list of persons by the Intelligence headquarters to keep a watch on following the Burail Jail break incidence. According to sources, the list includes names of those persons who have been directly or indirectly involved with the Babbar Khalsa International, a terrorist outfit of Punjab.

Activities of close relatives of a person believed to be a close aide of Jagtar Singh Hawara, in Phase VII would be monitored, said the sources. The person is said to be in Pakistan on a fake passport, but his parents have told the police that he is in Canada.

The Intelligence Wing will also keep a watch on an alleged harbourer of terrorists in Phase VI, the house of a former terrorist in Phase X and the family of a former terrorist in Gige Majra village.

Relatives of one of the escapees, residing in Sector 70 and Phase I here, would also be monitored said the sources. The list, along with a set of instructions, has been asked to follow stringently.



Verma shoots down SE’s plea
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 6
The matter regarding the appointment of a Chief Engineer for Chandigarh is in its final stage.

The UT Administrator, Justice O.P. Verma (retd), has rejected a plea by the Superintending Engineer, Municipal Corporation, Mr K.B. Sharma seeking the quashing of the order whereby Superintending Engineer (SE) V.K. Bhardwaj was given the current duty charge of Chief Engineer.

The Administrator had been empowered by a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court to decide the plea.

The Chandigarh Administration has asked the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to hold a departmental promotion committee (DPC) meeting to appoint a regular Chief Engineer. The DPC will have a “sealed cover” proceedings in the case of Mr K.B. Sharma, which means that the outcome will be disclosed till he is cleared of the pending cases.

The name of Mr Sharma had cropped up in the infamous “Jerath case”. As a result Mr Bhardawaj is a front-runner for the post of Chief Engineer.

Mr Sharma in his plea had claimed that he was senior to Mr Bhardawaj and could not be overlooked.

About four months ago Mr Bhardawaj was handed over the current duty (temporary) charge as Chief Engineer, UT, when Mr Puranjit Singh retired. Mr K.B. Sharma was handed over the current duty charge of Chief Engineer, MC.



Encroachments hamper planning of flats
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 6
The future planning of about 2000 under construction flats in Sector 51, located just south of Sector 44, here has been hampered by an unauthorised slum colony and some illegal constructions. The Chandigarh Administration is at its wits’ end on how to lay underground sewer lines, storm water lines and water supply lines. The way for these services is blocked with jhuggies and also illegal constructions.

The Chandigarh Housing Board is ready with a scheme of about 900 flats under a special scheme. However, it does not know where to connect the sewerage system of the complex as the underground network in the area has still not been provided by the Administration. The same is the story of the hundreds of flats being built by various cooperative house building societies.

They have no way to provide for an exit to the sewerage or to drain out storm water.

Normally in Chandigarh, these services run on either side of the road. The water supply line and the storm water are on one side while the sewerage is on the other side. People connect their individual lines to these main supply lines after paying a fee to the Chandigarh Administration and to the municipal corporation.

Sources in the engineering wing said a temporary solution had been found. The sewer line would be connected to an old sewerage line passing near Colony Number V, a slum.

This system could work for a few months or a year. But, ultimately, a full-fledged sewer system had to be laid. The storm water system would have to be laid in the opposite direction and water supply would be sorted out as it could be brought through another route. The main water supply lines run along all sides of a sector, thus there will not be a big problem.



Shabad, kirtan mark Guru Ravi Dass Jayanti
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, February 6
Recital of shabad and kirtan followed by langar marked the celebration of 627th birth anniversary of Guru Ravi Dass here today.

A function was organised by the Sri Guru Ravi Dass Maha Sabha, Sector 20, in which around 6,000 devotees participated. Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, chief guest on this occasion, highlighted the teachings of Guru Ravi Dass.

Presiding over the function, Ms Kamlesh, Mayor, Municipal Corporation, Chandigarh, said that Guru Ravi Dass had preached that the status of a man was decided by his “karma”. Addressing the gathering, Dr. K.R. Punia, a former minister, Haryana, explained the message given by Guru Ravi Dass for equality in society. He also urged the people to work for the poor and downtrodden and bring them to the mainstream of the society.

Speaking on this occasion, Ms Geeta Punia Bhukkal, an advocate, stressed on equal status for women and expressed concern over low literacy rate among women of the Scheduled Castes. She also urged the educated to spread literacy among women.

Others who spoke on this occasion included Mr K.C. Shenmar, vice-president of the sabha and Mr K.S. Bhoria, Principal Secretary, Haryana Government. Bhajan and kirtan was presented by many devotees. Giani Sawan Singh’s jatha also presented shabad and talked about the preachings of Guru Ravi Dass. Langar was served to all participants.

In a similar function organised by the Sri Guru Ravi Dass Ji Prabandhak Sabha in Gurdwara Shri Ravi Dass, Sector 30, as many as 4,000 devotees took part in the recital of shabad and kirtan, “aasa di var”, followed by a langar.



Swamy to inaugurate Rotary conference
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 6
A two-day conference of Rotary International District 3080 will be inaugurated by Mr I.D. Swamy, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, at Shivalik Public School here tomorrow.

Addressing a press conference here today, Ms Kawal Bedi, district governor, said the conference, “Aastha”, was a major annual event of the district in which over 1,200 rotarians with their families would join in to deliberate on various aspects of service.

Mr D.N. Padhi, Additional Secretary, will represent the Rotary International president at the conference. Giving details of the conference, Mr R.K. Saboo, senior rotarian, said the conference would be addressed on the first day by Ms Anu Aga, chairperson, Thermax Limited. “Ma Purnananda, a direct disciple of Swami Chinmayananda, will deliver an inspirational address and Justice Ashok Bhan, Judge of the Supreme Court, will speak on ‘work and ethics’,” he said.

The highlight of the conference would be an interactive session on “Where Corruption breeds?”, anchored by Arnab Goswami, News Editor, NDTV, in which the panelists would be quizzed. The panelists are Mr Pawan Bansal, MP, Mr Prakash Javadekar, National Spokesperson, BJP, Mr M.B. Kaushal, former Special Secretary (Home), and Mr O.P. Vaish, corporate consultant.

On the second day, two separate presentations would be made by Kapil Dev and humourist Jaspal Bhatti. Rotarian Dr Mohammad Ayub, Chairman of Pakistan’s Rotary “Gift of Life” programme, who is in the city in connection with the heart operation of five children from Pakistan will attend the conference.



Four tubewells dry up in Mani Majra
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 6
Residents of Mani Majra should be prepared for a comparatively dry summer this year as far as availability of drinking water is concerned. The main reason being that at least four tubewells, to pump up underground water in the area, have dried up. The water level in a number of other wells has also gone down.

An indication of the tough times to come was when during the last week, the water supply had remained suspended to certain areas, including Pipliwala town, for at least two days. The Modern Housing Complex also witnessed a collapse in the water supply for a day. Sources in the Engineering Department of the Municipal Corporation confirmed that the trouble may enhance in summer months. Bank colony, Adarsh Nagar, Subhash Nagar, Indira Colony and Pipliwala town are the areas facing water shortage.

The Mani Majra area has a population of approximately 1.50 lakh. The problem is comparatively less in the Modern Housing Complex. However, the affected population touches nearly 2.50 lakh if one takes into account a similar problem being faced by residents of the adjoining Mauli Jagran area.

The water supply to dwellings on the first floor and above is acutely short in a majority of localities in the area.

A senior officer of the corporation said that currently the Mani Majra area had no arrangements for the canal water. The population here had multiplied in the recent years. The water table was shrinking and certain tubewells had dried up. A new pipeline, however, is under consideration. The water supply from the Bhakra Beas canal is collected at the water works, Sector 39. The planned route for the new pipeline is that the water will be transferred to the water works at Sector 26 from where it will be sent to a reservoir in Mani Majra.

Mr Nardeep Batra, a resident of Bank Colony in Pipliwala town, said it was strange that the area was facing water problem in February when the water supply should be adequate. This, he said, was a clear warning for the coming summer months. The corporation should make alternate arrangements well in advance, he added.

Mr Surinder Singh, a councillor from Mani Majra, agreed to the drying up of at least four tubewells. He said the work for digging up new wells had started. He, however, said that one could not depend on tubewells for long. The water scarcity was going to be more pronounced during summers, which could be augmented only with the supply of canal water. A proposal to this regard had been cleared by the corporation and the water supply in the area was likely to be improved in the next financial year.

The Welfare Association of Pipliwala Town (Bank Colony) said water scarcity in the area had become acute since October 2003. The situation had become worse from the past one week. Mr Roshan Lal said the water supply was not satisfactory even on the ground floor.

Mr Baldev Raj Maini, president of the association, said the authorities concerned had been approached several times regarding the problem.



Annual dog show on Feb 8
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 6
The annual twin dog show will be organised by the Chandigarh Kennel Club on February 8, according to a press note here today. Organised in consonance with rules of the Kennel Club of India, the show is the most prestigious dog show in North India.

Prof G.S. Sidhu, honorary secretary-general, said the show had been accorded the status of a “points show” which means the points bagged by individual dogs in the show will be crucial while for assessing the Dog of the Year, Reserve Dog of the Year and Puppy of the Year awards.



Gurmat samagam from Feb 8
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 5
The Shatabdi Purab committee here will organise a daylong Shatabdi gurmat samagam at the Phase VIII mela ground on February 8 to begin the year-long celebrations commemorating the 400 years of Guru Gobind Singh’s sons martyrdom.

According to a press note issued by a SGPC member here, Mr Hardeep Singh, five Sikh personalities who have made a place for themselves in various fields will be honoured during the samagam.



Handbook on learning disorders

Chandigarh, February 6
The counselling department of Vivek High School, Sector 38, here has developed a “Teachers Handbook to Learning Disorders”.

This handbook has been developed by Gurman Sandhu and Stephanie Nanzer, both counsellors, and deals with problems like profile of a dyslexic, what is a learning disorder, etc. TNS



Infant dies

Panchkula, February 6
Two-month-old Shristi died at the government-run orphanage, “Shishugreha", located in the Bal Bhavan in Sector 14 here yesterday. The infant was found unconscious by an attendant. TNS



2 held for stealing tyres

Panchkula, February 6
The police arrested two students while stealing tyres from the Sector 5 market parking here yesterday.

Residents of Sector 8, Suraj and Puneet, were caught redhanded by the police while stealing the spare tyre of a scooter of an advocate. TNS


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