C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh Administration's order of not allowing auction of commercial property on a freehold basis has baffled citizens. Why does Chandigarh want to benefit Mohali and Panchkula?

Pawan Kumar BansalIt is a retrograde step. The argument that this will ensure regular income for the Administration is baseless.

— Pawan Kumar Bansal, local MP

Satyapal JainWe will impress upon the UT Administrator to withdraw the order immediately. This has caused resentment.

— Satyapal Jain, former MP

Jagdish KhalraIt is arbitrary on part of the Administration to revert to the leasehold system. It is reflective of ad hocism.

— Jagdish Khalra, Chandigarh Beopar Mandal

Chaman SharmaWhy would anybody buy property on a leasehold basis in Chandigarh when PUDA and HUDA offer better deals?

— Chaman Sharma, income tax lawyer

Amarjit Singh SethiThe effects will be known at the auction on February 27. The rates will come down. The Administration will lose revenue.

— Amarjit Singh Sethi, real estate adviser

Arvind JainA mafia is behind this. Influential people have purchased disputed freehold properties and now they stand to gain.

— Arvind Jain, Commercial Tenants Association

Ashok BansalCommercial activity will shift to Mohali and Panchkula. It will shatter the confidence of the people in the Administration.

— Ashok Bansal, Hotel Association of Chandigarh

Chandigarh, February 18
The Chandigarh Administration’s order yesterday of not allowing auction of commercial property on a freehold basis has kicked off a storm with property owners feeling totally flummoxed by its shifting stance over the past two years.

The order is likely to hit thousands of real estate investors who had heaved a sigh of relief recently following an upturn in property prices in the city. The new directive, it is claimed, will depress prices here while making Mohali and Panchkula attractive destinations. Chandigarh’s satellite towns are, therefore, likely to see a boom in commercial property rates in the near future, says Mr Amarjit Sethi, a real estate adviser.

Property owners and investors also claimed that it was difficult to understand why the Administration was trying to make Chandigarh unattractive for investment even though it was duty-bound to do the reverse. They alleged that such ‘retrograde’ steps have been taken in the past also as the Chandigarh Administration was run by officials drawn from Punjab and Haryana. “Our interests are never protected, and it is always advantageous to either of these two states,” they claimed.

The furore over the order has been such that major political parties have reacted strongly to it. They feel that the Administration’s order was ‘unwarranted.’

It may be recalled that the abrupt two-line order issued late last evening reversed the earlier policy of the Administration which allowed auction on a freehold basis. The policy virtually gave direct ownership to the buyer. According to last evening’s order, investors will now have to first buy property on leasehold in an auction and then pay a hefty conversion charge to get it transferred as freehold. Though the order did not give any reason for the reversal of policy, official sources said it was prompted by the Administration’s desire to rake in more revenue.

Mr R.P. Malhotra, president of the Property Owners Welfare Association (POWA), said, “ It was the height of adhocism and ineffectiveness of the democratic system. Officials are taking and reversing decisions whimsically.”

And this is not the first time that the Chandigarh Administration has shifted its stance on a critical issue. It has been happening with predictable regularity over the past two years. About four such orders and notifications have first been issued and then withdrawn without explanation leaving people high and dry.

Some of the orders in the past two years are strange and defy logic. Take the case of last evening’s order that commercial property will be auctioned on a leasehold basis. Sources claim that in one stroke the order makes the proposed shopping mall in Sector 44-D unattractive when compared to the one coming up in Mohali. It is just 1 km away from Chandigarh’s shopping mall.

Another major controversy arose in May 2002, when the Administration allowed the free use of first and second floors of showrooms for opening guest houses. As a result of this policy, affordable budget guest houses mushroomed all over the city. The hotel lobby, however, was up in arms as it had paid hefty premiums to run hotels in these very showrooms. In other words, a hotel owner had to bid for a site and pay a premium. However, his neighbour could open a hotel next door at half the cost by making use of this policy.

As a result of the controversy, a conversion charge was imposed on showrooms converted as guest houses within a few months of the order. These conversion rates were low when compared to the premiums paid by hotel-site owners. About five months ago, the rates were brought to near-equal level of the premium for hotel sites. Meanwhile, five persons who had bid for hotel sites in Sector 43 asked for a refund of their deposits citing the uncertain policy of the Administration.

In another such order, the Administration allowed carving out of basements in booths. This is also permissible in Panchkula and Mohali. In October 2002, less than a year after allowing basements in booths, the policy was reversed. Those who had constructed basements in that one year period benefited.

A repeat of the Administration’s flip-flop stance occurred when it permitted digging of the ground floor to a depth of three feet to increase the vertical space in commercial areas. A charge was levied for such conversion. However, within 18 months, the order was withdrawn. Once again. only a section of the people benefited.



Students oppose lifting of ban on soft drinks
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
Student organisations of Panjab University have decided to oppose the lifting of the ban on aerated drinks. While an all-party meeting will be held shortly on the campus to discuss the issue, at their individual level, activists of student organisations will approach the students for a feedback on the lifting of the ban.

Taking a lead in the matter, the National Students Union of India (NSUI) has begun by meeting members of the university Senate to have the decision revoked. “We will meet the Chancellor and inform him that the university authorities have gone ahead with the lifting of the ban against soft drinks despite these testing positive for pesticides. I am getting in touch with my national president and will suggest to him to launch a nation-wide protest in universities,” says Nitin Goyal, president of the local unit of the NSUI.

The Students Organisation of Panjab University (SOPU) has already expressed its resentment on the lifting of the ban. “We are holding a meeting of all representatives of our department tomorrow evening. A final decision on the future course of action will be taken following their inputs,” the president of SOPU, Ranjeet Singh Raju, claimed.

Treading cautiously, president of PUSU (Shelly) Gurparvez. S. Sandhu said they would speak to other student organisation before lodging their protest. “We want to watch the response of the students before opposing the lifting of the ban. We will attend an all-party meeting to be convened after Jhankaar 2004,” he maintained.

Panjab University has lifted the ban on the sale of aerated drinks in the canteens in its departments. The decision was taken at a meeting chaired by the Dean, University Instruction, Prof S.K. Sharma, and attended by the Registrar, Prof Paramjit Singh, among others.

The decision comes a week after the Panjab University Campus Students’ Council (PUCSC) represented to the university authorities to lift the ban on the sale of Coke and Pepsi. Pepsi is one of the sponsors of the annual national youth festival, Jhankaar 2004.

However, though the PUCSC claimed that the demand for lifting the ban came from the students themselves, other student organisations like the National Students Union of India and the Panjab University Students’ Union (Shelly) were against lifting the ban on these drinks.

They had also claimed that despite the ban on these soft drinks imposed by the authorities, canteens were selling Coke and Pepsi to the students on the sly. They had also met the authorities and expressed their displeasure on the demand made by the PUCSC.


States directed to keep DNA record of accused
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
For making detection and identification of escapees easier, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the states of Punjab and Haryana, besides the Union Territory of Chandigarh, to maintain record regarding DNA profile and blood group of accused, wherever necessary.

In a ruling on a criminal application filed by the state of Punjab alleging the escape of an accused after the filing of an appeal against his acquittal, Mr Justice Amar Dutt and Mr Justice K.S. Garewal of the high court have also directed the maintenance of record regarding dentures.

The judges have further ordered that “when a person, in contravention of law, is brought before the police, his face should be photographed from the front, as well as the side”. Finger and footprints should also be taken, the judges have added.
The directions are significant as, according to intelligence reports, Dawood Ibrahim may escape the eyes of law by undergoing cosmetic surgery reportedly at Islamabad. It may not be easy to identify him as currently recording of fingerprints is the only “foolproof system” of identifying the criminals all over the country.

The record, maintained at Finger Print Bureau (FFB) in Madhuban in Haryana is being computerised, but fingerprints are taken at the time of conviction. In Punjab, such records are maintained at Patiala.

The jail manual insists that every convict and undertrial should be taken to the jail doctor. His height, weight, identification marks, besides thumb impression are recorded in a register at the time of his medical examination.

Even though DNA profile “can help in 100 per cent identification of a person”, it is “very costly” and no “fully developed at the Forensic Science Laboratory in Madhuban. The “method is still at a nascent stage,” police officers maintain.

The officers add that “there is no legal mandate for taking photographs of arrested persons. Moreover, maintaining snaps and fingerprints of all arrested persons is likely to infringe their right to privacy which is a basic human right”.

Taking a serious view of the matter, the judges have now asserted, “We are shocked to find that even in the 21st century the only record being maintained by the law enforcement agencies of persons — who at some point of time have shown propensity to violate the law — is fingerprints. The record is prepared once the accused is convicted and put in the prison for undergoing sentence imposed upon him”.


VIP’s car kills 25-year-old youth?
Sanjay Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
A Lancer car (PB 04 H 0001) allegedly hit 25-year-old Ravinder Singh as he came out of a wedding party in Rajasthan Bhawan in Sector 33 at 1.20 am on Tuesday. The car dragged him for 20 metres before speeding away.

The family had to struggle for two days for registration of a case. The brother of the diseased, Surinder Pal, said the car was registered in the name of a VIP that was why the police was reluctant to register the case.

Ravinder Singh was rushed to the nearby Government Medical College and Hospital in Sector 32, where he died the same night.

Ravinder Singh came out of a wedding party along with his uncle, Balbir Singh, a retired Central Reserve Police Force official, and opened the door of his vehicle when the Lancer car hit him.

Surinder Pal said persons present at the accident site chased the car but in vain.

He claimed a police vehicle stopped the car after a long chase but the driver asked the patrol party to accompany them to the Sector 34 police Station.

The police today registered a case and handed over the body of the deceased after a post-mortem.

The SHO of the Sector 34 police station said the investigating officer had written to the vehicle registration authority to find out the name of the owner of the car.


UT cops to interrogate Goldy
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
The Chandigarh Police today decided to secure the custody of Surinder Singh Goldy on production remand from the Punjab Police to unravel the conspiracy behind the Burail jailbreak case involving Jagtar Singh Hawara. A decision in this regard was made after Goldy told the Chandigarh Police during interrogation in Fatehgarh Sahib that he was part of the conspiracy.

Goldy conceded that he had provided money to Hawara in Burail jail and the same was sent through hawala by sons-in-law of Pakistan-based chief of the Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) Wadhawa Singh.

Goldy is allegedly a committed cadre of the BKI and has been involved in fake currency, robbery and cheating cases in Punjab.


Council likely to okay cattle pound payment
Our Correspondent

Mohali, February 18
The Municipal Council is expected to clear a proposal to pay Rs 6.5 lakh out of the total cost of Rs 30 lakh for land allotted to it by PUDA for setting up a much-needed cattle pound in the town.

A proposal to pay the first instalment of the total amount is to be presented at a general body meeting of the council scheduled for February 20. The PUDA authorities had offered two acres at a cost of Rs 310 per sq yd, with the total amount coming to about 30 lakh, for setting up the cattle pound.

A letter to this effect from PUDA was sent to the council on January 27 which gave 30 days’ time for depositing 25 per cent of the total cost of the plot. The council was asked to make a payment of Rs 7.5 lakh. Since the civic body had already deposited Rs 1 lakh with PUDA as token money, the house would be required to clear the remaining amount of Rs 6.5 lakh.

The PUDA authorities had issued a letter of intent in 2002 in which it was said that land for the cattle pound would be allotted at the rate of Rs 750 per sq yd. However, the council had pleaded reconsideration of he rate by PUDA.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court had issued directions to the civic body in connection with two writ petitions to begin construction work on the boundary wall and sheds of the cattle pound.

No financial estimates in this regard had been cleared by the House. Now estimates can only be prepared after the demarcation of the allotted land. The House will, therefore, discuss a proposal at the meeting to begin construction by using Rs 3.15 lakh cleared for the building of the boundary wall of the waterworks in the Phase IX Industrial Area.

Another proposal relates to the purchase of a new car by the council in place of an old one. The old car had been purchased in 1993 and had run 3,50,000 km. The vehicle, which belonged to the council, was earlier used by the Deputy Director, Urban Local Bodies, Ludhiana. After long use it was condemned and returned to the civic body.

The House will also consider a proposal to send Rs 16,76,230 to the Director, Local Government, Punjab, under a decision requiring local bodies to deposit one per cent of their income with the department. The amount relates to the financial year 2002- 2003.


Land owners want govt to withdraw notification
Our Correspondent

Mohali, February 18
Land owners of a number of villages, whose land is being acquired by the Punjab Planning and Urban Development Authority (PUDA) today demanded withdrawal of the notification issued in this regard as they do not want to part with their property.

The affected persons had gathered at Gurdwara Singh Shaheedan at Sohana to hand over a copy of the memorandum to the Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, who had promised to listen to the grievances of the landowners. The Deputy Speaker, however, failed to turn up.

Land owners said they were not interested in selling land and if the government failed to withdraw the notification issued in this regard, they would be compelled to go to court after a notification was issued under Section 6 of the Land Acquisition Act.

Mr Devinder Pal Singh, who is heading the Sohana Sangharsh Committee formed to protest against the acquisition of the land, said PUDA was acquiring land of five villages for which a notification under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act 1894 had been issued on January 24. Today landowners from 10 villages had gathered to protest against the move of the government as the land of the remaining villages would also be acquired at a later stage.

Mr Tejinder Singh Jakhar, whose father-in-law’s land falls in Sohana village, said PUDA was earning Rs 7 crore by selling one acre of land after developing it. But it was paying only between Rs 7 lakh to Rs 10 lakh per acre to farmers.

He said PUDA officials had given a statement in court that about Rs 15 lakh to Rs 20 lakh were spent on developing one acre of land. As such, PUDA was earning crores of rupees as profit when it was supposed to be a non-profit making body. He said government officials should approach farmers like colonisers and discuss the rates.

Mr Avtar Singh, a member of the panchayat of Manaouli village, said when the Railways had acquired land in the village more than three years ago, Rs 8 lakh per acre were paid to affected farmers. But recently, PUDA had acquired 23 acre for setting up a sewerage treatment plant and the award announced in this regard had only been Rs 5 lakh per acre.

The panchayats of 10 villages had prepared resolutions in which they had said that they were not ready to part with their land as the acquisition by the government was not in the interest of the public and PUDA was indulging in “looting” tactics.

Moreover, agriculture was the main occupation of the people of many villages.

The affected persons said that would gather at Gurdwara Amb Sahib tomorrow and submit their objections to the authorities concerned.


Industrial land conversion lamented
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 18
Disapproving of the Punjab Government’s scheme to have residential pockets in the midst of industrial areas in Mohali, the Chairman of the Punjab Pollution Control Board, Mr Rana K.P. Singh, today stated that residential areas should be kept away from polluting units.

Mr K.P. Singh was talking to mediapersons after laying the foundation stone of the nodal office of the Board in Phase II, here.

Stating that the PSIEC should not have been granted permission to convert industrial land into residential, Mr K.P. Singh emphasised that the government should have a clear policy of land use for the state. ‘‘All we have for Mohali is a master plan of development but that too has to be notified as yet. Till the government defines the use of every bit of its land in the state, many problems will stay,’’ he said.

Referring to a story that appeared in The Tribune some weeks ago about the extent of pollution being caused by the Budha Nullah in Ludhiana, Mr K.P. Singh mentioned that two sewerage plants were coming up to solve the problem and another one would be put up by December 2005. ‘‘The Budha Nullah problem did not come up in a day and hence the solution too is not possible in a day,’’he said.

About the fate of the 400 employees of the National Chemical and Fertilisers Limited, Nangal, Mr K.P. Singh said although the matter was pending with the liquidator and there was only a limited role that the government could play in this, he would not shrug the matter off. ‘‘We are waiting for the Chief Minister to pay a visit to Nangal and whenever that happens we will make sure that he helps us solve the problem being faced by the former employees,’’he said.

Mr K.P. Singh laid the foundation stone of the PPCB nodal office which will be built at a cost of Rs 61.50 lakh. He also announced that 12 such offices would be built across for which land had been bought. The two- storeyed office in Mohali would have the Chairman’s room also. The work is expected is begin next month and completed within a year.


Pak boys get new lease of life
Monica Sharma

Chandigarh, February 18
The fear of the unknown was haunting them before they left their homes in Pakistan last month for undergoing heart surgery. Today, they could not contain their excitement. As 11-year-old Afzal and a year younger Rohit got off a van to meet people at a function, a smile played on their thin lips. There were moments of nervousness, but the boys continued to grin. Their relatives added that treatment in India was relatively better and cheaper.

Their small hands trembled just a little bit with anxiety as they greeted the crowd before muttering, “Yes, we are all set to return with gift of life and a bag full of memories”.

Afzal’s brother added, “He will be able to study again”.

The two were recently operated upon at Post-graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research’s Cardiothoracic Department under Rotary Club’s Peace City initiative. The surgery was performed by Dr R.S. Dhaliwal. The services were provided free by the PGI, while Rotary Club took care of all other expenses.

Clad in a Pathani kurta pyjama, Rohit twitched his fingers in nervousness as he faced Rotarians and reporters. One look at him was enough to tell you that lean and lanky Rohit was still on the way to recovery. In fact, you could feel his palpitating heart beating against his chest.

Removing all apprehensions about his health, Dr Dhaliwal, however, asserted, “Nothing to worry, they both are fine”. Rohit, he added, was just a “nervous and anxious child”. Regarding the palpitation, the doctor added that it would “come under control after some time with the help of medicines”. Dr Dhaliwal had spent eight hour operating him on February 10 for a hole in the heart. His valve was also replaced. Rohit was likely to be discharged next week.

Giving details, the doctor added that Rohit would need regular follow up. “Medicines will have to be administered to him throughout his life for thinning the blood”, he added.

Rohit belongs to Khipro in Sindh. With dark eyes full of gratitude, his father Ramesh Chand working as a shop salesman said, “Health treatment is more expensive in Pakistan. It would have taken me Rs 2.5 lakh in a private hospital to get him operated”.

Holding Afzal, Dr Dhaliwal said his upper chamber had a hole and was operated on February 5. “He was also suffering from congenital heart disease,” he asserted. Afzal hails from Kota in Baluchistan. After studying till Class IV, he had to leave studies due to weakness.

Talking to The Tribune just after the programme, Afzal’s elder brother, Gazi Khan, said there was a misconceptions about Indians in Pakistan. In fact, some of my relatives even stopped me from coming to India, but still we decided to opt for the best. In any case the Indians, contrary to the common belief, are very loving.


Goods worth lakhs perish in fire
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, February 18
Household goods worth lakhs of rupees were destroyed in a fire at the house of Mr M. L. Kalra in Ekta Vihar Colony, Bartana village, near here, this morning. Mr Kalra is a former Senior Administrative Officer of the engineering wing of Western Command, Chandimandir.

The fire broke out in a bedroom of the first floor of the house at around 9 am and was noticed by two children. Within no time the smoke filled the entire house.

Mr Kalra, along with his son, rushed to the first floor and tried to extinguish the blaze with water. Hearing cries of the members of the family, neighbours rushed for help and even used a ladder to enter the room of the first floor after breaking open window panes.

Subedar Jang Bahadur (retd ) and Mr Jatinder Chauhan entered into the smoke-filled floor and helped three members of the family in scaling down the wall of the house.

Fire engines from Panchkula and Dera Bassi took hardy 15 minutes to control the fire.

Mr Kalra said a short-circuit caused the fire which destroyed a washing machine, a colour TV set, a double-bed, ceiling fans, clothes and stationery goods. Some cupboards were completely destroyed.

Mr Sanjiv Garg, Tehsildar, Dera Bassi, Mr Narinder Sharma, President of the Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat, Ms Manisha Malik, councillor of the area visited the house. Mr Garg said the family would be given compensation from the Red Cross funds after conducting an evaluation of the goods destroyed in fire.

A case has been registered in this regard.


Woman “bought” for Rs 1.35 lakh?
Our Correspondent

Kharar, February 18
Was a woman “purchased” for Rs 1.35 lakh from Dehra Dun for a resident of Mundi Kharar here?

The answer to the question remains a mystery. The police is silent about the matter and claims that a “compromise” has been effected between disputing complainants, who had a quarrel over money matters.

Dhanwant Singh, a resident of Mundi Kharar had alleged that Tarsem Singh a resident of Kharar, had fraudulently got his car and scooter transferred in his own name, apart from taking away cash, gold ornaments and important documents.

Sources say Dhanwant Singh had to undergo treatment at the PGI, Chandigarh, after an accident and Tarsem Singh used to look after him in the hospital. It is alleged that Tarsem Singh used to get bank documents signed from Dhanwant Singh and withdraw money from the bank. A part of the money withdrawn from time to time was spent on treatment. The complainant alleged that Tarsem Singh used to get inflated bills prepared in order to misappropriate money.

However, when a dispute arose on money matters, Tarsem Singh told Dhanwant Singh that Rs 1.35 lakh had been spent on the “purchase” of a woman for the latter from DehraDun for looking after him.

It is learnt that Tarsem Singh told the police that Dhanwant Singh had struck a deal with a resident of Kurukshetra and “bought” a woman for Rs 1.35 lakh from a village near Dehra Dun.


Best garden results declared
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
Blooming flowers, gardens painted in varied hues of spring and celebration will come together for the three-day Festival of Gardens which gets underway at the Zakir Rose Garden, Sector 16, on February 20.

Promising entertainment and business opportunities with over seven lakh visitors expected to flock to the garden, the festival will be inaugurated at 11 am by the Punjab Governor, Justice O P Verma. A medley of items by folk artistes will mark the inaugural session in the manicured lawns of the Rose Garden which will play host to a number of activities and contests during the three-day affair.

In keeping with convention, the UT Horticulture Department will hold a flower and bonsai competition, besides contests in the various potted plant categories.

A major draw at the Festival of Gardens every year, the “Healthy Baby Competition” will be held. Tiny tots would be judged in various age groups on the basis of their health, response and behaviour. Adding colour to the celebrations on the first day will be a performance by Jazzy B, a popular Punjabi singer, in addition to the usual feast of folk dances.

For day two, the participants will dabble in colour, trying their hand at rangoli competition while children would vie for the titles of “Rose Prince” and “Rose Princesses”.

To make the concluding day as exciting, the organisers have roped in renowned singer Udit Narayan for a performance at the fest. A painting contest would also be held at the venue and the gala affair would conclude with a prize distribution function.

As a part of the Festival of Gardens, a Rose Festival Expo-2004 is also being organised. Slated to be a mini trade fair offering all kinds of consumer products, it would have over 250 pre-fabricated stalls which are being put up by companies and craftsmen. A few companies are expected to launch their new products and offer special schemes.

Meanwhile, the judging of gardens, both private and public, began in the city today.

The results are as follows: Best Garden In the City: Class F: Garden with area over 2 kanals — Group Captain S.N. Mohanty, AF Station (1), Mr Paramjit Singh, Sector-33-A (2); Garden with area less than 2 kanals — Col Balwant Singh, Sector-9 (1), Mr S.Marriya, Sector-10 (1), Ms Manjit Verma, Sector 8-B (2), Mr B P Singh, Sector 18-D (2); Garden with area less than 1 kanal — Dr Arunanshu, Sector 12 (1), Ms Navjit Singh, Sector 21(2).

Best Garden in the City: Class-G: Garden with area over 4 kanals — Institute of Microbial Technology,Sector 39-A(1), C H B, Sector 9 (2), Mr S K Garg, Sector 35-B(2); Garden with area less than 4 kanals — AG Punjab (A&E) , Sector 17(2); Open To All: Best roundabouts — M/s IFB Industries Ltd.Industrial Area-Phase 2(1), WWICS Pvt. Limited, Sector 22-C (2), Milkfed roundabout, Sector-20,21,33 & 34(2).

Best college campus — Regional Institute of Cooperative Management, Sector 32-C(1); Best private school campus—Strawberry Fields Kindergarten School, Sector 24-B(1), Sacred Heart Senior Secondary School, Sector 26(2); Best open space maintained In the market—Traders Associates, Sector 8-B(2); Best Bhavan other than Non Government premises — Sariman Sant Baba Sarup Singh Ji, Sector 38-West (1), Gurdwara Patshahi Daswi, Sector 8-B (2).


Panchkula tops in agriculture finance
Our Correspondent

Panchkula, February 18
Panchkula district stood first in the state in financing agriculture and allied activity during the last year. Rs 177.55 crore were given to agriculture and allied activity sector against the target of Rs 121.68 crore and Rs 73.34 crore were given to other priority sectors against the target of Rs 41.74 crore.

This statement was made by Ms Satwanti Ahlawat, Deputy Commissioner, while presiding over a district-level review committee meeting here yesterday.

She called upon the bankers to provide timely financial assistance to the needy in order to make them self-reliant. She appreciated the achievements of banks and hoped that these would continue to so in future also.

She also urged the banks to minimise time gap between sanction and disbursement of bank credit.

Mr T.R. Verma, District Manager, Punjab National Bank, requested the banks to expedite the disposal of pending government-sponsored cases and appealed the administration to provide help in the recovery of bank loans.

He said all eligible farmers in the district should be covered under the Kisan Credit Card scheme before March 16.

Mr Sudesh Vats, Assistant General Manager, Reserve Bank of India, Mr R.K. Singh, AGM, Nabard, and Mr S.K. Goel, General Manager, District Industries Centre, Panchkula, also spoke on the occasion.


RBI to introduce changes in notes
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
The Reserve Bank of India will shortly be issuing currency notes of Rs 5, Rs 10, Rs 50 and Rs 100 denomination with inset letter ‘R’ and notes of Rs 500 denomination with inset letter ‘B’ in the numbering panel in the Mahatma Gandhi series, according to an official spokesman.

These notes will bear the signatures of Dr Y.V. Reddy, Governor of the RBI. Except for the signatures of the Governor and the change in the inset letters, the design of these new notes will be similar in all respects to those issued earlier in the Mahatma Gandhi series.

All notes in the denomination of Rs 5, Rs 10, Rs 50 and Rs 100, issued by the RBI since September 1987, will continue to be valid.


Temples decked up for Shivaratri
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, February 18
Residents today thronged temples decked up in colourful blinking lights to celebrate the marriage of Lord Shiva with Goddess Parvati during Maha Shivratri. They offered milk and fruit to shivlings in the temples.

Prabhat pheris, havans, nagar kirtans and cultural programmes on Lord Shiva’s life were organised all over the city. As per tradition, different types of “rudrabhishek”, “bhasmabhishek” and “chatuperhari lingarchan” were also performed. Sweets were distributed among children, particularly those residing in the slums and colonies.

The celebrations started early. Even before the sun illuminated the morning sky, the residents, eager to pay obeisance, left their homes to reach the temples, offering prayers.

In fact, blowing of conch shells filled the air as residents took to the streets as early as 4.30 am. As car after car negotiated sharp bends to reach the temples in Sectors 18, 20, 23 and 24, traffic almost came to a standstill.

Outside the temples, stalls were set up for offering religious books and calendars.

A tableaux on “Shiv avtaran” were set up by Prajapita Brahma Kumaris Ishwariya Vishwa Vidyalaya at its centre in Sector 21. According to a press note, the tableaux on lord Shiva’s incarnation on earth was the prime attraction.


Devotees throng temples
Our Correspondent

Panchkula, February 18
More than 2 lakh devotees thronged Shiv Temple in Saketri to pay obeisance on the occasion of Mahashivaratri, that was celebrated with fervour in the city and surrounding areas today.

The devotees with fruit, milk and gangajal had started assembling in temple last evening. They lined on the road, leading to the shrine on jute carpet spread by the Shri Shiv Mandir Nav Durga Charitable Trust.

The temple was decked up with flowers. “Chhabils” were organised for the devotees who trudged from far-flung areas to offer prayers.

The ticklers and bhaang (hemp) lovers had a field day.

The trust had deployed over 250 volunteers from the Sewa Dal Samiti and the Mata Mansa Devi Sewa Dal for assisting the district police personnel to maintain law and order during the festival celebrations.

Temples in different sectors and villages besides Zirakpur, Dera Bassi, Lalru, Chhat, Barwala, Raipur Rani, Pinjore, Morni, Chandi Mandir and Ramgarh wore and a festive look as devotees kept thronging the temples throughout the day.


Agitators force cops to register case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
Hundreds of members of a community today gathered at the Sector 36 police station, demanding registration of a case in a hit-and-run case which resulted in the death of a hair-dresser from their community yesterday.

Sharif Ahmed (40), working as a hair-dresser in Sector 35, met with the accident at Attawa Chowk on February 16 and succumbed to injuries in the PGI the following day.

The police did not register a case for want of witnesses. The delay in the registration of the case provoked members of the community who, at a meeting last night, decided to lay a siege of the police station in the morning.

The protesters brought along with them an eyewitness on the basis of whose statement a case was registered. A leader of the community and chairman of the Congress Minority Cell, Mr Mohhmed Sadiq Sheikh, said prominent members of the community gathered at the police station but the seige programme was withdrawn after DSPs SC Sagar and SC Abrol reached the spot and asked the police personnel to register a case.

The diseased was cremated in the evening.

A case has been registered against an unidentified driver of a three-wheeler.

The police said there was conflicting information from witnesses with a few saying a bus had hit Ahmed and others blaming on auto-rickshaw for the same.


Mohali Diary
Golden Bells holds annual baby show
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 18
Golden Bells Public School, Sohana, organised the annual baby show and prize distribution function at the school. A large number of children participated in the baby show. The Assistant Labour Commissioner, Mr Jacob Pratap, was the chief guest and he gave away prizes to the winners of the baby show.

Prizes were also given to the students of the school who had achieved excellence during the year in the academic and extra-curricular activities. The annual newsletter of the school, Reflection, was also launched by the chief guest. The Principal of the school, Mrs G. Bawa, congratulated the winners and their parents for their contribution in nurturing and bringing up the children.

Fiza Khurana, Tejas, Nonika and Ananya were chosen as the Golden Bells princesses in various categories while Mokesh, Suryansh, Kartikey and Uday were chosen as the Golden Bells Princes.

Annual day

Students of St Louis Public School, Sohana, celebrated their annual day this week. Mr Gian Chand Malhotra, Manager, Life Insurance Corporation of India, was the chief guest. The programme presented by the students started with a prayer followed by a short drama by Ishaan, Mohit, Rahul, Gagan Rajan and Priya of class VI. A number of other items like skits, giddha and bhangra were also presented by the students. Mrs Raj Kumar Kaushal, the principal of the school, read out the annual report of the school.

The chief guest gave away the awards and the prizes to the outstanding students. He uged the students to be hardworking and honest.

Farewell function

A colourful farewell function marked the end of the academic year at Shivalik Public School, Phase VI, here. Students of Class XI bade a warm farewell to their seniors who are now preparing for their board examinations. Numerous fun-filled activities were staged by the two classes. Jaskeerat and Manpreet won the titles of Mr and Miss Shivalik, respectively, while Parneet, Rajpreet, Ankur and Chetna were adjudged Miss Charming, Miss Elegant, Mr Personality and Mr Elegant respectively. Mr D.S. Bedi, Director-Principal of the school, applauded the students and motivated them to strive to achieve their goals in higher education.

Swami Ram Tirath school

Students of Swami Ram Tirath Public High School bid farewell to the Class X students of the school. The seniors were presented with flowers and attractive gifts. Students of Class IX put on a jestful show which included dances, skits and games. Arjun of Class X was crowned Mr Ram Tirath and Isha was crowned Ms Ram Tirath during the modelling session. Titles were also given to the school teachers by the outgoing students. Mr Hans Raj Sharma, President of the school, blessed the outgoing students.

Rotract Club

The District Conference 2004 of Rotract Club District 3080 was hosted by members of the Rotract Club Mohali. Members of Rotract Club from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh particpated in the conference held at the GJIMT, Mohali. The participants also took part in the elections of the DRR 2004-2005. The chief guest on the occasion was Mrs Kawal Bedi and the guest of honour, Mr Dhirender Tayal. The executive director, PTL, Mr R.P. Singh, gave an interactive talk on the Rotract movement to the participants. Cultural events were also held and presidents of Rotract clubs of different states and past presidents of the club were honoured.


Five win Valentine competition
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
The five lucky winners of “Be my Valentine Contest” organised by Spice Telecom yesterday got a chance to be with their dream models like Candy Brar, Simran, Deepika, Gaurav Dhir and Gagan Anand at Hotel Mountview for lunch.

The winners in the male category of the contest were: Mr Gaurav Manocha with Ms Candy Brar (Gladrags Mega Model -2003); Mr Sushant Verma with Ms Simran Sachdeva (Gladrags Mega Model-2001) and Mr Rajdeep with Ms Deepika (Ms North India-2003).

And in the female category winners were: Ms Prabhjot with Mr Gagan (Mr North India-2001) and Mr Gaurav Dhir (Grasim Mr India finalist).

The contest was open to both post-paid and pre-paid subscribers.

The DGM (Marketing) of Spice telecom, Mr Mukul Khanna, said “We understand the needs of our subscribers and try to introduce something new on every occasion.” The contest, he claimed, drew a good response from the very first day (February 5).


Capturing moods of nature on camera
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, February 18
They have captured the moods of nature through their cameras season after season. If you wish to see the work of Ludhiana-based photo artists, TPS Sandhu and Ranjodh Singh, just drive down to the Government Museum and Art Gallery in Sector 10 here.

Their exhibition, “Drishtikon 2004”, will continue till February 22.

The theme of the exhibition is “Love nature, be happy, healthy and holy”. According to the lensmen, “Urbanisation has provided many comforts of life, but at the same time man has drifted away from nature. Many of the ailments are due to this drifting away of man from nature. We have made it our mission to bring man close to nature again”.

They add, “To achieve this, we have decided to exhibit photographs depicting the beauty of nature”. The exhibition will remain open from 11 am to 6 pm. It was inaugurated today by the Vice-Chairman of the Punjab Planning Board, Dr S.S. Johl.


SAD leader warns Jain
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
Mr Surinder Singh Chhina, Senior Vice-President, SAD, Chandigarh, warned today that the SAD and other local Akali bodies were not bound to support any BJP candidate put up by the party without consulting them.

In a statement issued here, Mr Chhina complained that the BJP and the former BJP MP, Mr Satya Pal Jain, were trying to undermine the local unit of the SAD. He appealed to the BJP and SAD high command to put up a common Sikh candidate so as end the bitterness between the local units of the two parties.


Lala Achint Ram Memorial Lecture
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
The Editor-in-Chief of The Tribune group of newspapers, Mr H.K Dua, will deliver the Lala Achint Ram Memorial Lecture on “ State of the Nation” on February 20 at Lajpat Rai Bhavan, Sector 15.

Former Governor of Kerala, Justice S.S Kang (retd) will preside.


Ex-servicemen back Kanwaljit
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
A section of ex-servicemen today held a meeting at Zirakpur to express support for Capt Kanwaljit Singh, SAD candidate from the Patiala constituency, for the forthcoming General Election.

Giving details, Brig K.S. Kahlon (Retd) said the purpose was to review the political situation.


Two held in criminal case
Our Correspondent

Panchkula, February 18
The police claims to have arrested Guddi Singh and Hanish Thakur, suspects in a criminal case, and seized a country-made pistol and 6 kg of poppy husk from them.

The duo along with their three accomplices, Pramod, Kanheya, and Sanjeev were reportedly picked up by the police six days ago for their involvement in a criminal case. Following their arrest, Mrs Subodh Rani, mother of Guddi Singh, had filed a habeas corpus petition before the local court seeking to ensure her son’s presence that the Chandi Mandir police station, where the suspects were put behind bars.

Taking note, Mr PK Yadav, Judicial Magistrate (Class I) Panchkula, appointed a warrant officer who found the duo missing from Chandi Mandir police station.

The suspects were produced before the court yesterday where they were remanded in police custody for two days.

Goods recovered

The police has arrested Mohinder Singh and recovered some goods which he had stolen from a HUDA store-cum-workshop a few days ago. Mohinder Singh was arrested from a barrier in Sector 19 yesterday afternoon. A case has been registered.


Police tightens noose around gamblers
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, February 18
Tightening noose around gamblers in Dera Bassi, Zirakpur, Lalru and nearby areas, the police today arrested nine persons while playing ‘satta’, near Canter Union Office, on the Dera Bassi-Barwala road this evening.

According to Mr G. P. Singh, Station House Officer, Dera Bassi, Jagmohan, Ashok Kumar, Gurcharan Lal, Sunil Singh, Ranjit Singh of Trivedi Camp Mubarikpur, and Inderjit Singh of Haripur Kuran village, Mohinder Singh of Bahadurgarh village, Sham Lal, of Jawaharpur village and Amit Kumar of Dera Bassi, were arrested for gambling.

The police caught them red-handed seized some money.

A case under the Gambling Act has been registered.

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