C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Leasehold scheme falls flat at auction
No takers for Sector 44 multiplex project
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 27
The scheme of the Chandigarh Administration to auction prime commercial property in the city on leasehold fell flat on its face. The Administration was forced to withdraw the much-touted shopping mall site in Sector 44-D, while the prices of commercial property dropped drastically as bidders preferred to stay away.

A total of 26 commercial sites, including several booths, were withheld due to lack of good bids. Just seven sites were auctioned for Rs 6.83 crore. The reserve price of these sites was Rs 2.79 crore.

This also seemed to rub off on the residential property as the rates registered a fall despite the fact that residential property was on freehold basis.

The Administration changed its policy about 10 days ago and said auction of commercial property would be only on leasehold basis. The first casualty of the new policy was the 2.50-acre shopping mall which promised to change the way the city residents shopped and watched movies. Its reserve price was fixed at Rs 34.10 crore on leasehold basis. A total of five bidders paid a sum of Rs 10 lakh to be eligible for bidding. This morning two of them backed out. The other three parties did not make a single bid beyond the reserve price, saying it was "too high". The Administration tried once again and failed. Around 4 pm it was decided to withhold the shopping mall. Explaining this, a local dealer said even somebody took the site for Rs 35 crore he was liable to pay Rs 87 lakh as ground rent to the Administration.

This mall in Sector 44 had also been approved by the Administration for auction. It was to have multiplex cinema halls, retail and entertainment facilities and proposed to have a built-up space of about 1,36,000 sq.ft.

Interestingly the Administration had decided that in case of the shopping mall the bidder was scheduled to pay all the money in a 30-day period from today.

Besides the mall, other commercial properties were also badly hit. The only good thing to show was the showroom in Sector 22. This was a built-up place and is adjoining Kiran cinema and was sold for a whopping Rs 3.60 crore. The showroom is only 289 square yards.

This morning property consultants of Chandigarh boycotted the auction and raised slogans demanding that the system of freehold auction be adopted instead of leasehold.

Meanwhile, in the case of residential plots, the Chandigarh Administration netted Rs 17.66 crore by auctioning 34 freehold residential sites. The reserved price of these sites was Rs 14.28 crore.

One of the bidders, Dr Akshay Anand , who had come from the USA to buy a residential plot for himself in the city, complained that property dealers were operating as a mafia and were jacking up prices.

The average overall price per square yard worked out to be Rs 14,454. Last year this was Rs 16,820.

The Estate Office wing of the Chandigarh Administration, which was the auctioning authority, held back the commercial sites due to lack of good bids.

These sites will be put up for auction next time. In December the auctioning of commercial and residential property the Administration has netted a whopping Rs 101 crore.



Slaughtering rules on waste disposal
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 27
Health of the city is certainly not in safe hands. Posing a major environmental and health hazard, the slaughterhouse waste from the city is being openly dumped in Dadumajra, which is also a dumping ground for municipal waste. The practice, which has been going on for years in the absence of scientific disposal of slaughterhouse and poultry waste, is in violation of norms, which clearly state that “slaughter house waste should not be mixed with municipal waste.”

In its report, a special committee constituted by the Supreme Court in March 1999 to look into the Solid Waste Management in Cass I Cities has clearly stated, “Disposal of slaughterhouse waste and carcasses of animals should be done scientifically, following the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) guidelines. This waste should not be mixed with municipal waste. The waste should be converted into useful products by installing a Carcass Utilization Centre (CUC).”

A visit to Dadumajra, however, reveals that poultry, fish market and slaughterhouse waste is openly dumped along with kitchen waste, adding to the woes of the residents and the environment activists who have been calling for proper disposal methods of meat waste. The residents complain that often light feathers, skin, bones and other poultry waste parts are often flown into their homes.

However, in the absence of a proper Carcass Utilization Centre (CUC) which also makes provision for scientific treatment of slaughterhouse waste, along with carcasses of animals, the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh (MCC) is left with practically no option than to mix municipal waste and slaughterhouse waste and dump it in the same ground. It is dumping animal carcasses in the open in Mauli Jagran. Significantly, the MC, in its official documents, admits, “Disposal of dead animals is a serious problem. There is no suitable place earmarked for this, with the result the contractor has to undertake the said work at unauthorised places creating environmental hazard and insanitation.”

Although the MCC, in its house meeting today, approved the CUC scheme yet again, setting aside Rs 10 lakh for the same, the shortage of funds is expected to mar the prospects of a CUC in Chandigarh. The project requires Rs 380 lakh for installation. Sources inform that one acre plot provided for CUC by the UT Administration in Khuda Lahora is yet to be acquired.

Meanwhile, the practice of mixing slaughterhouse and municipal waste is drawing flak from all quarters. Even the Chandigarh Pollution Control Board is posted on this illegal practice. It has been issuing notices to the office of Medical Officer Health, MCC, which is responsible for waste disposal procedures in Chandigarh. Sources in the MC admit that all kind of waste was going to Dadumajra. An official informed, “Not only is there a dearth of dumping sites in the city, there is no way to scientifically treat meat and poultry waste. Ever since the Central government withdrew the CUC scheme which was fully financed earlier, the shortage of funds for the plant has become a big issue. However, we have been getting feelers in the recent past that the Central Government will soon revive the scheme.

It is under great pressure from the Central Pollution Control Board and the State Pollution Control Boards which want CUCs for scientific disposal of meat waste as well as animal carcasses.”



Goldy’s accomplice arrested
Tribune Reporters

Chandigarh/Fatehgarh Sahib, February 27
Jaspal Singh, one of the conspirators in the alleged plan to assassinate the hero of Operation Bluestar Lieut-Gen R.S. Dyal (retd), was arrested from Sirhind this evening and a countrymade pistol of .12-bore was recovered from him.

The Punjab police claimed that Jaspal Singh, who along with Gurvinder Singh, alias Goldy, had done reconnaissance to find out a safe place to attack General Dyal, had admitted that both of them had taken a vow in the Fatehgarh Sahib gurdwara to carry out the killing plan.

The SSP of Fatehgarh Sahib, Mr Shiv Kumar, told The Tribune that the Mohali-based office of Jaspal Singh was a rendezvous of Narain Singh Chaura, Gurdeep Singh and Goldy. Jaspal Singh had been code-named as “Tur” in the jailbreak operation. Narain Singh Chaura was the first to be arrested in this connection by the Chandigarh police.

He claimed that Jaspal Singh went to Dubai between January 16 and 28 allegedly to arrange travel documents for Jagtar Singh Hawara, Jagtar Singh Tara and Paramjeet Singh Bheora. However, it is yet to be confirmed if the documents of the escapees were to be prepared or some other arrangement was to be made. The police said Jaspal Singh was in contact with Hawara through go-betweens.

The police said it was suspected that he went to Dubai for the purpose as his visit followed a meeting with an absconder Gurdeep Singh, who drove the three escapees upto Sirhind on the night of January 21.

Jaspal Singh had been given a task to “make some arrangement” but it is not yet known what exactly was the arrangement to be made.

The Fatehgarh Sahib police claimed that Gurdeep and Jaspal Singh had a meeting at Mohali where Gurdeep Singh had asked Jaspal to be involved in a “big” project. Gurdeep Singh also asked Jaspal Singh to keep his phone activated wherever he was for the project. Jaspal Singh runs a company involved in sending people abroad through ships and its offices are in Mohali and Ambala, the police said.

Meanwhile, the police has come to know that Jaspal Singh and Goldy had done many reconnaissance exercises in Panchkula in search of a safer place to attack General Dyal. They had gone to see the position of his security staff when he comes out at different times.

The Chandigarh police is believed to have decided to communicate to the Director-General of Police, Haryana, to look into the security of General Dyal.

The police said the office of Jaspal Singh in Mohali was frequented by a large number of those persons whose names had figured in providing assistance to Hawara in escaping from the jail. The police is now looking for Gurdeep Singh.



221.08 cr MC budget cleared
Tribune News Service

Highlights of the budget

  • No property tax.
  • Quarterly review of corporation projects.
  • Sanitation will be further privatised.
  • Proposal for scientific treatment of carcass.
  • Rs 21.60 crore for the prestigious water supply scheme at Kajauli.
  • To purchase a hydraulic platform and turn table ladder for fire services.

Chandigarh, February 27
The Municipal Corporation today decided to constitute a quarterly review committee of all work undertaken by the corporation from the beginning of a financial year. This has been done with a view to keep a tab on expenditure on projects being carried out and to save on account of unspent money at the end of an year.

The corporation cleared the budget estimates for 2004-2005 pegged at Rs 221.08 crore. Out of the total, Rs 144.87 crores has been sanctioned by the UT Administration under the non-plan and Rs 76.21 crore under the plan heads. The gap of Rs 108.58 crore will be bridged by the corporation out of its own resources. The corporation expects to register a ‘spillover’ of Rs 10.50 crore in the next year.

The budget witnessed an increase of Rs 10.62 crore as compared to the last year’s allocations. Importantly, the corporation decided to increase the expenditure on roads, horticulture and electricity projects which will be over the estimated amounts.

Expenditure on roads has been increased from Rs 5.5 crore to Rs 8 crore, from Rs 1 crore to Rs 1.5 crore in horticulture and to Rs 1 crore from Rs 50 lakh in electricity works. The adjustments will be made in the existing amount by making relevant changes in other accounts, it was pointed out.

The corporation will get Rs 112.50 crore from the Administration and expects to generate Rs 110.05 crore from tariffs on water, sewerage, estate and other receipts. The corporation has abolished the property tax completely in the next financial year. Earlier, the corporation had put an estimate of Rs 7 crore on virtue of property tax last year. The corporation also plans to go in for four-laning of roads in a phased manner.

The Mayor, Ms Kamlesh, read the budget at the commencement of the session. A sum of Rs 10 lakh has been earmarked for a project for the disposal of animal carcass. Rs 4.58 crore have been earmarked for a hydraulic platform and turn table ladder to assist in the fires services. The corporation officials said a tender had been floated in this regard. Ms Kamlesh said nearly two thirds of the current budget was spent on the salary and other perks of employees alone.

The suggestion for a quarterly review of corporation work was made by Mr C.K.Sawhney. Mr Chandermukhi, a Congress councillor, said timely payment to contractors will save a lot of time wastage on incomplete projects.

Mr Gian Chand Gupta, a BJP councillor, said the corporation should clarify that the property tax would not be charged in future so as not to use it as an election sop for the forthcoming poll. He said the entire work schedule of the corporation needed to be reviewed before fresh appointments. He pointed out the corporation’s laxity in the implementation of the solid waste management project and on ‘gaushala’ project.



Indian democracy impresses Pak students
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 27
It was the passion to know the real India and learn more about the country which today brought a seven-member delegation of Pakistani students, including a girl, to Chandigarh.

Led by a lecturer from the Department of Computer Sciences, Lahore University of Management Sciences, the delegation reached Panjab University by road and interacted with mediapersons soon afterwards.

It is the first visit of all the members of the delegation to India. Dr Sarmad said, "We have heard so much about the democracy in your country. We want to see for ourselves what democracy and freedom means."

Commenting on the propaganda by the governments of both countries, the delegates said much air was given by fundamentalists and the masses were unaware about the true facts and were led by emotions. Dr Sarmad said the Press in Pakistan comparatively enjoyed less freedom.

The common man in Pakistan wanted cordial relations with India. "We are looking forward to interact with the people of India", said a student, Imdad from Rawalpindi.

The students were interested to visit Amritsar, but were directed to proceed either to Delhi or Chandigarh. The students were in the city on the invitation of the Panjab University Teachers Association (PUTA).

Then other members of the delegation are Ahmed Tariq, Arzoo, Eshan, Jahir and Fahad.



Child mortality rate alarming, say doctors
Monica Sharma

Chandigarh, February 27
The mortality rate is as high as 800 per 100,000 live births in some parts of the country, including Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Bihar. Anaemia among babies and poor availability of trained attendants during delivery are among the main causes. Anti-natal care is also lacking. The mortality rate is lowest in Kerala. It is around 80 per 100,000 live births.

The doctors attending a national conference organised by the Indian Association of Preventive and Social Medicine at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research add that several policies and programmes, including nutrition, population and health policies have been announced, but they are good only on papers.

They assert that average mortality rate of 400 per 100,000 live births is witnessed in the country. The difference in the mortality rate is due to variations in availability of health services.

Quoting survey reports and research papers, the doctors add that mortality rate in Latin America, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan is almost the same as India. They add that the World Health Organisation provides money to the doctors for research programmes and training, along with technical support, to improve the situation.

The doctors add that anaemia, caused due to iron deficiency, is prevalent in 60 to 80 per cent young women and expecting mothers. They assert that the deficiency is the main cause of low survival rate among babies in some parts of the country. It is also responsible for maternal deaths.

Teenage pregnancy is also a major cause of it. About 30 to 50 per cent girls die in the country due to teenage pregnancies. In some of the societies, the girls are married “very early”. In majority of the cases, the deaths can be prevented by generating public awareness.

The doctors add that women should have access to folic acid tablets. This is not all. The delivery process should be carried out by trained birth attendants. About 60 percent deliveries in Hindi speaking states are carried out by untrained attendants.

To avoid such incidents, women in backward areas should be made aware of the need to approach trained birth attendants. Accessibility and availability of emergency obstetrics care is must, they add. Anti-natal care is also important. “Hospitals should provide friendly atmosphere for expecting mothers so that they feel free to approach,” says Professor of Community Health and Principal of Vellore Christian Medical College, Dr Jayaprakash Muliyil.

He adds, “Friendly advice is seldom offered to backward women in large number of hospitals forcing them to get deliveries done at home from untrained attendants”.

Honorary Adviser to the Indian Council of Medical Research at Delhi, Dr Badri N. Saxena, adds that networking of various health programmes is essential. Private and public sector partnership should also be encouraged.



Trees for survival our only solution, says Bahuguna
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 27
Restless over the fading glory of the Himalayas, Gandhian Sunderlal Bahuguna is endlessly engaged in saving the predominant source of water for the nation. On his arrival to the city today, he again raised his life-saving slogan, “trees for survival.” He added that in future people will go in for tree farming, which consumes less water, allowing room for conservation of the precious resource.

Having led major environment campaigns in the Himalayas, right from the Chipko movement to the anti-Tehri Dam movement, the environmentalist is now deeply concerned about the depleting ground water level across India. On the eve of his memorial lecture to commemorate the 77th birth anniversary of former Vice-President of India Krishna Kant, he spoke to The Tribune about the outstanding environmental and agricultural concerns of Punjab, which, he said, was losing out on its treasures of soil and water.

“The problem of water scarcity is common to the nation. Due to global warming, most of the glaciers in the Himalayas have vanished. The river water has declined by 50 per cent since the Independence,” said Mr Bahuguna, stressing that the policy makers needed to work out new solutions to old problems. He suggested it was time we identified tree species whose products could live longer. “We need to grow trees whose products can be stored. In the hills, walnuts and chestnuts are beneficial, so are stone fruits like almonds. Oil seed giving trees should also be planted. We also must have more flowering trees for honey, because the future will witness sugar scarcity.”

Calling for three “As” and five “Fs” for sustainable development, Mr Bahuguna said, “I recommend three As to save water — practice “austerity” by saving water; device less water intensive “alternatives” for agriculture and industry; promote “afforestation” because trees are not for timber alone. We need trees that can provide food, fodder, fibre, fertiliser and fuel. These are the five Fs I stress.”

About Punjab, which he will focus during his lecture on “Punjab in the 21st century”, being organised by Servants of People’s Society at Lajpat Rai Bhavan tomorrow, Mr Bahuguna said the biggest problem was depleting water resource base. “The Green revolution has led to high fertiliser use, which has eaten into the vitals of the earth. Eucalyptus is another hazard. The government must root out all eucalyptus trees because they consume a large amount of water. They are being planted only for profits. Subabool trees must also go. Both grow very fast and deplete groundwater. Also let us not forget that birds are a true measure of a tree’s quality and birds never make nests in these two trees. Water conservation can only be facilitated by trees with a dense canopy. We must grown more of those.” Supporting her husband, Ms Vimla Bahuguna added, “Planting of eucalyptus must be officially banned.”



Guldasta, a bouquet of exciting programmes
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 27
The beginning of the first flower show of Mohali — Guldasta — that starts at the Silvi Park in Phase X tomorrow morning will add another milestone to the 30-year old history of the township.

The main road outside the park has been barricaded and stalls have been put up on both sides. Seating arrangement for over 2,000 persons has been made at the garden where a host of festivities will begin after the inauguration ceremony at 11.30am.

Over 200 entries of various flowers and potted plants have been received at the garden which will be displayed and judged during the next two days. The festival will also provide a platform to schoolchildren of Mohali and child artists to perform before a large crowd.

The schools that will participate in the day long cultural programme, include Lawrence Public School, Green Field Public School, Dashmesh Khalsa Public School, Shivalik Public School, Guru Teg Bahadur Model School, Sacred Dales Public school, National Public School, Sant Isher Singh Public School, ITI, Jain Public School, Amandeep High School, Spring Dales School and Government Polytechnic College Khooni Majra. An on-the-spot painting competition for children will also be organised as part of the festival. Two exhibitions of photographs and paintings will be put up by well known artists in the filed Satwant Singh and Ashok Kaushal.

Addressing a press conference here this afternoon, Ms Namrita Kalsi Architect, PUDA, the organisers of the show, said the show would be inaugurated by Mr Bir Devinder Singh and would be followed by a day long cultural show on stage by the schoolchildren. Wadali Brothers and Manpreet Akhtar will perform live on the first evening of the festival.

PUDA’s horticulture wing will also put potted plants and flowers on display and two persons from the department will be deployed to provide information to the public about the plants, their availability, season of bloom etc. “This is important as the whole exercise is to encourage people to grow flowers and plants and keep their surroundings green,” said Mr H.S. Dhaliwal, XEN (horticulture), PUDA, during the press conference.

The children’s cultural show will continue the next day too and the best performances will be awarded. The prize distribution will be done by Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, Minister for Housing and Urban Development.

All heavy traffic on the main road opposite the park will be diverted from the Phase IX, Phase X dividing road on one side and Phase X, Phase XI road on the other side. The internal traffic will be allowed through these barricades but diverted from the next internal roads.

All those who have cut trees outside their homes beware, you might also feature in this show. On display at the festival will be photographs of cut trees by residents along with their names and house numbers to discourage others from cutting trees.



More candidates seeking commission into TA
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 27
There has been a significant increase in the number of candidates seeking a commission in the Territorial Army (TA) from Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

About 150 candidates from J&K appeared in the written entrance test held here on Sunday, which officers said compared very well to the handful of candidates who appeared last year.

These candidates were among the 1,000 aspirants from the northern region short-listed for the written test, conducted by the Western Command TA Group. This group is responsible for recruitment from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and J&K.

One reason for the large number of aspirants from J&K, officers said, was the raising of six new “Home and Hearth” TA battalions in the state. In addition, an awareness campaign about TA was also carried out during the ongoing Operation Sadbhavna, which was aimed at winning the hearts and minds of the local population.

TA officers here said that the number of candidates shortlisted for the written exam was the highest ever. Applicants included civil service personnel as well as professionals from the private sector, including lawyers. Last time, about 850 candidates had been shortlisted. Officers said that 168 candidates had cleared the written examination, and they were put through a preliminary interview board on Monday and Tuesday. Those found suitable will be recommended for interview by a services selection board before they are finally recommended for a commission.



Pak boys return with hearts full of life

Chandigarh, February 27
In just over a month after they arrived in the country from across the border with “fear of the unknown” fogging their mind, two Pakistani boys were discharged from PGIMER with gift of heart and bagfull of memories.

The boys — Afzal and Rohit — could not contain their excitement as they walked out of the Institute this morning. The nervousness that they had displayed during a function organised recently was missing as men with cameras surrounded them to take snaps.

The two had left their homes in Pakistan last month for undergoing heart surgery. They were operated upon at Cardiothoracic Department under Rotary Club’s Peace City initiative. The surgery was performed by Dr R.S. Dhaliwal.

Rohit belongs to Khipro in Sind. His father Ramesh Chand works as a salesman. Afzal hails from Kota in Baluchistan. After studying till Class IV, he had to leave studies due to weakness.

“We can never forget what you have done for our children”, said Afzal’s elder brother Ghazi Khan. He had accompanied Afzal for the surgery. Rohit’s father was speechless, but tears rolled down his face as he boarded a vehicle for journey back home. OC



Sikh delegation submits report on ‘Birs’ to museum
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 27
A delegation of Sikhs led by SGPC member Hardip Singh today submitted a report to the Director of the Government Museum Sector 10 Chandigarh which ‘proved’ that there were as many as five complete ‘Birs’ of Guru Granth Sahib put on display inside the museum and were allegedly being disrespected by being kept open day and night.

Mr Hardip Singh said they had brought the matter to the notice of the museum authorities and the Punjab Governor but the museum authorities had refused to agree that the ‘Birs’ put on display were complete in any respect following which a reviewing committee was formed to look into the matter and give its report.

The report has established that a total of 14 “Birs” were reviewed and five of these were found to be complete in all respects. These included “Dadami Bir” of 64 pages, the Bir of 772 pages, the ‘Bir’ with 826 pages, the “Bir Japu Nisan” and “Ragmala”.

Mr Hardip Singh informed that a delegation of Sikhs will also be meeting the Governor with the report and demand that these manuscripts be given due respect as the way these had been displayed was hurting the religious feelings of the Sikhs.



Tribune employee bereaved

Chandigarh, February 27
A prayer meeting in memory of Ms Kartar Kaur, mother of Mr Surinder Singh, Chief Sub-Editor of Punjabi Tribune, will be held at the Tripti town gurdwara in Patiala tomorrow. Ms Kartar Kaur (70) died in Patiala on February 21 after a brief illness.



Chain-snatcher arrested
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 27
A person snatched a gold chain from a woman in the Apni Mandi in Sector 22 yesterday but the people in the market caught him and recovered the chain from his possession.

Ms Monohar Lata, a resident of house No 2146/1, Sector 22-C, informed the police about the incident and the person was identified as Sat Pal, alias Pala, a resident of house No 2937, Dadu Majra Colony.

Pala had recently been released from jail and is facing at least three cases of chain snatching.



13-year-old murder co-accused

Panchkula, February 27
Can a teenager be a co-accused in four murders? The answer may be in the negative, but 13-year-old Sibu has the dubious distinction of being involved in four killings in the township.

The police claims that Sibu, who was arrested along with another youth, Vijay, yesterday, assisted the 20-year-old Mukesh, an accused in the Aroras’ triple murder, which rocked the town in December last year.

Mukesh, on the other hand, is an acused in 10 killings. However, Sibu was not involved in the triple murder. Sibu used to hold the legs of the victims, while Mukesh inflicted injuries, the police said.

Sources said Sibu has confessed to having assisted Mukesh in the killing of two members of the Madhok family, a labourer, Hero, and another person.

Today he was shifted to the Juvenile Jail in Sonepat by the CJM, Mr Gulab Singh. TNS



Rajan poisoned to death: report
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 27
The viscera report of Amritsar resident Rajan Sharma, whose body was found on February 24 from near the marble market in Sector 52, has confirmed that he had been poisoned.

The police is suspecting Ashok Kumar of Amritsar to have poisoned him to death. A case has been registered.



2 cops surrender

Chandigarh, February 27
Two constables of Panchkula, who were booked in connection with the escape of a murder accused, Vijaypal from the PGI, have surrendered before the Chandigarh police.

Constable Kirpal Singh surrendered today followed by Balraj Singh.

Hawaldar Sushil Kumar and constable Ramdhari are still absconding. Balraj Singh told the Chandigarh police that he had gone to have his dinner when the murder accused slipped away from the hospital. He said his other colleagues were also not present when he returned after having his dinner. TNS


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