C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


No fire safety for city high-rise buildings
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service


  • No fire tender in the city is capable of catering to high-rise buildings in case of an emergency.
  • The Punjab and Haryana High Court in 1996 'observed' the city's handicap following a fire incident in the court complex.
  • The MC has cleared the proposals for fire tenders on at least two earlier occasions.
  • Senior officials said official tenders had been floated recently and deal was expected very shortly.

Chandigarh, February 28
Occupants of more than 400 high-rise buildings (more 15 metres) in the city live under continuous threat of a heavy loss in case of any fire. The city does not have a single fire tender capable of combating fire in high-rise buildings which are scattered all over the city.

The Fire Department standards point out that all buildings above 15 metres were high rise and the city has a large number of high buildings. The prominent areas include the Punjab and Haryana Secretariat, High Court, Madhya Marg, and Sectors 17, 18, 22, 27, 28, 34 and 35, besides others.

The Municipal Corporation has been unable to purchase a suitable tender despite floating offers on at least two earlier occasions. The most suitable machinery has been pointed out as one equipped with “hydraulic platform and turn table ladder” which are fitted with the capability to fight fire till a height of 42 metres.

The absence of suitable fire tenders is despite an observation of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 1996 saying ‘Fire Service Department is not properly equipped with modern equipment and is not able to control fire properly and have no facility to control fire in high-rise buildings’. It is worth mentioning that the court had taken notice of the fact following a fire incident in the Civil Revision branch of the High Court in 1996.

“Following deliberations at the highest level it was felt that fire tenders capable of handling fire at 42 metres high were best suited for the city environs. The city did not get suitable tenders earlier. The latest tenders were floated on January 15, 2004. There were four proposals. However, there was a procedural error because of which no deal could be finalised.”, the official said.

The Fire Department had earlier sent teams to different parts of the country to study the suitable fire tender models fit for the city. It was felt that certain foreign-made tenders could best suit the city environs, the official said.

The UT Administration provided for Rs 3.50 crore as grant-in-aid during 2002-2003 for the purchase of a fire tender (Snorkel make). The sum of Rs 3.50 crore earmarked for a new fire tender in 2003-2004 was diverted for augmentation of water supply.

A report of the corporation said “the present strength of the fire service stations is inadequate to meet requirements of the city”. A senior officer of the corporation pointed out that the deal for purchase of a new fire tender capable of handing emergency in high-rise buildings was nearly complete and the city will soon have better facilities.


7 petrol station owners get notices
Told to plant trees
Bipin Bhardwaj

Dera Bassi, February 28
The Punjab Forest Department has issued notices to the owners of seven petrol stations asking them to plant trees and plants within the land between two exit points of each filling station and fences them. The department has also asked the owners of these petrol stations to reply within in 15 days from the issuance of notices.

The petrol stations which have been served notices under the Forest Conservation Act 1980 are located on the Dhakauli-Jharmari stretch of the Kalka-Ambala National Highway 22.

Mr Sukhminder Singh, Forest Range Officer, Dera Bassi, disclosed that the petrol stations violating the Act were served notices. Majority of the petrol stations violating the Act were situated on the Kalka-Ambala and the Dera Bassi-Barwala highways.

He claimed that the violators have been also asked to submit the report after complying with the guidelines, otherwise the department would cancel the No Objection Certificates (NOCs) issued to them.

The department can also take stringent action against the violators and approach to Central Government seeking cancellation of their licences, he added.

Presently there are over a dozen petrol stations located along these highways and a majority of them are violating the Act with impunity. A visit by the Tribune team to the areas revealed that majority of these filling stations have hardly planted trees and fenced the land falling within the either exit points of each petrol station.

While talking to the Tribune Mr Sukhminder Singh admitted that thousands of encroachments have come up on the forest land along the highways. He also made it clear that scores of violators have been served notices and many would be served in the coming days.

The area would be cleared from the encroachers if they failed to obtain NOC from the forest authorities.


Rally against steel price hike
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 28
Hundreds of industrialists from Chandigarh, Mohali, Panchkula and Dera Bassi and Chanalon today carried out a massive rally to protest against the steel price rise. On scooters, cars and tempos the protesters managed to catch a lot of attention as the large group of vehicles caused traffic jams wherever it went.

Around 500 members of the Mohali Industries Association, Chamber of Chandigarh Industries, Federation of Small Scale Industries, Industries Association of Chandigarh, Industries Association of Panchkula, the Welfare Association of Industrial Focal Point Phase IX, Mohali, carried out the rally under the banner of the Joint Action Committee, raising slogans through the way.

The mobile procession started from Mohali Industries Association Bhawan here and passed through various markets, reaching The Tribune Chowk where they were joined by members of the Chandigarh Chamber of Industries, Federation of Small Scale Industries, Industries Association of Chandigarh, Dera Bassi, Panchkula, Chanalon. The procession then proceeded toward Raj Bhawan, Punjab, through Madhya Marg.

Mr Pawan Bansal, MP, Chandigarh, addressed the industrialists and assured them that he will take up their case with the Central Government.

Mr Yash Pal Mahajan, president, BJP, Chandigarh, said that he was first an industrialist and then a political leader. He said that Union Government had announced some steps to curtail the steel price rise and that he would urge the national government to do more.

Mr Anurag Aggarwal, general secretary, Mohali Industries Association and convener of the Joint Action Committee said that the small-scale industries were not satisfied with the measures announced.

He said that government should immediately announce a long-term comprehensive policy for controlling and maintaining the steel prices and prevent wide fluctuations. He also informed that a Punjab State Level Coordination Committee will be set up at the meeting
of all industries associations of Punjab which is to be held on 9th March, 2004 at Mohali.

A delegation of the Joint Action Committee then met the Governor, Punjab, Justice (retd) O.P. Verma and presented a memorandum to him to be forwarded to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The memorandum focused on the sharp increase in steel prices, jumping by over 70 per cent in last 4 months and the fact that the existence of Small Scale Industries had been as a result threatened.

The industrialists demanded withdrawal of incentives for export of raw material (Iron and Steel) and reduction in customs duty on steel from 15 per cent to 0 per cent, establishment of the steel index and effective steps be taken to prevent black marketing in the market. They also demanded that stability be brought about in prices of iron and steel, and that the government should encourage export of finished goods rather than feeling smug about increasing export of raw material.


India warned of Al-Qaida recruits
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 28
India is not a direct target of the Al-Qaida terrorist network, but what is of concern to strategic thinkers is that India can become a hunting ground for recruits for global terrorism.

The Governor of Chhattisgarh, Lieut-Gen K.M. Seth (retd), cautioned that fundamentalist cells with links to the Al-Qaida were spreading all over the country and were a potential threat to national security. These cells, he added, were targeting a large number of young foreign students enrolled in Indian institutions who were then sent for terrorist training in the Middle-East and some neighbouring countries.

He was delivering a talk on “Terrorism and its impact on internal security” at the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID) here, where he called for a fresh look at our national security policy in a changed environment where the enemy knows no border and follows no scruples.

General Seth, who was closely involved in counter-insurgency operations in the North-East as well as Western sector, also cautioned against the Naxal movement in central Indian states, which was earlier dormant but now gaining rapid momentum. The movement was spread over nine states. He said earlier the Naxalities’ demands was development, but now they were increasingly inclined towards separation, autonomy and so on, which required serious attention of security planners.

Jammu and Kashmir, he said, continued to remain at the centre of the nation’s troubles in spite of three wars having been fought with our neighbour. The North-East, he said, continued to remain affected. Insurgency and extremist movements in the region had been hijacked from the locals by groups operating from foreign soil and being aided by hostile neighbours. He appreciated the recent example set by Bhutan in launching a crackdown on militants operating from its soil.

The Governor said while terrorism could not be fought by the military alone, nothing could be achieved without the military action either. Military action, he said, was required to neutralise terrorism and open a window of opportunity for political solutions.

To fight terrorism, he said, a series of measures needed to be adopted, which included depriving resources to terrorists, interdiction of flow of money to terrorist organisations and disrupting terrorist infrastructure. Also required, he added, were laws and provisions which did not grant any concessions to terrorists and ensured that a terrorist was brought to the country where he had committed his acts. Contrary to popular belief, the existing provisions of law, he felt, were inadequate to deal with the threat of terrorism as it stood today.

Fighting terrorism, General Seth remarked, had to be an international effort which required requisite United Nations charters being more specific, international isolation of a state supporting terrorism and comprehensive intelligence sharing. At the bottom of this, he said, lay the need to devise a definition for terrorism which was mutually acceptable to all.

The threat today, he said, did not lie in armies invading across borders, but has assumed the form of cross-border terrorism, illegal migration, narco-terrorism, nuclear and biological terrorism and global terrorism with high technology and lethality available to it. This required serious thought at all levels of the policy-making machinery, he added.


Pakistani students visit The Tribune
Overwhelmed by freedom, affection
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 28
Underlining the need for more people-to-people interaction, the Editor-in-Chief of the Tribune Group of Newspapers, Mr H.K. Dua, today said such interactions could wipe out the divide of the boundaries between India and Pakistan.

In a meeting with a seven-member team of computer sciences students, led by Dr Sarmad Abbasi, an Assistant Professor at the Lahore University of Management Sciences, Mr Dua hoped that the visit by the students would further strengthen the bonds of friendship between the two neighbours. There was an intense desire on both sides to live in peace, he said.

The students were in the city as part of their goodwill visit to different cities in the northern India. After giving a brief on the 123-year-old glorious past of The Tribune newspaper and its contribution to the freedom struggle, the Editor-in-Chief said generations had been raised on The Tribune and it had produced many known faces in the field of journalism.

Referring to the ongoing efforts to improve the bilateral relations between the two nations, Mr Dua said it could result in the two nations exchanging newspapers so that the people could keep themselves updated. He said both nations would be gainers in the forthcoming cricket series starting next month in Pakistan.

The students would be visiting Delhi, Jaipur, Fatehpur Sikhri and other cities in the northern India, said Dr Abbasi while interacting with the Editor-in-Chief and other senior members of the editorial team of the newspaper.

Talking about their experience after they landed in the city yesterday having travelled by train from Wagah to Ambala, the students said the warmth with which they were received overwhelmed them. “The affection we received was due to the fact that we had come from Pakistan with a mission of peace and to understand the true India,” said S. Arzoo, the only girl student from Lahore, who is part of the team.

Another thing, which attracted the attention of the students, was the civilised society and the freedom to express. “The student unions were involved in pursuing the demands of the students instead of being involved in undesired activities as in Pakistan,” said Aimal Tariq.

After being treated to a lunch, the students visited the printing section of The Tribune and were informed on the procedure involved in printing the newspaper. The students also enquired about the internet edition of the newspaper.


Indian education model worth emulating,
say Pak students
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 28
The facilities for imparting higher education in Pakistan were limited and the Indian model of education was worth emulating, said Dr Samad Abbasi, leader of a seven-member team of students from the Lahore University of Management Sciences, here today.

Dr Abbasi, who teaches theoretical computer sciences at Lahore, said due to poor background in basic sciences, Pakistan could not cash in on the IT revolution as had been done in India. “The number of jobs generated due to the IT revolution in our country are comparatively much less”, he added. The universities offering post-graduate degrees and doctorates were very limited, he said.

S. Arzoo, a girl student from Rawalpindi, said very few girls in Pakistan opted for computer sciences. Most preferred to become a doctor or secure a degree in fine arts. Amil Tariq, a post-graduate in theoretical computer sciences, said in Pakistan the quality of education in government universities was not good and the fee charged in the private universities could only be afforded by the affluent.

Dr Sarmad Abbasi, an assistant professor at the Lahore University of Management Sciences, said they would be visiting Jawahar Lal Nehru University at Delhi to learn more about the system of education.

Earlier, the team members interacted with the Editor-in-Chief of the Tribune group of newspapers. They would be visiting Delhi, Jaipur, Fatehpur Sikhri and other cities in the northern India.

The other members of the team were Asif Jamshed, Ahsan Kamal, Imdadullah Khan, Khawaja and Muhammad Fahd.


PU Syndicate approves 10 pc fee hike
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 28
A 10 per cent hike in fee for all under-graduate and post-graduate courses being run by Panjab University on the campus was approved for the forthcoming session by the Syndicate at its meeting held on the campus, here today.

Doing away with the system of hiking tuition fee and other funds separately and differentiating between professional and other courses, the Syndicate approved a uniform hike for these courses.

The proposal of increasing tuition fee by 25 per cent and funds by 10 per cent for professional courses and 10 per cent hike in tuition fee and funds for all other courses was rejected after students’ organisations strongly reacted against the hike, submitting a memorandum to the university authorities and appealing to members of the Syndicate against approving the recommendations.

Taking a cue from the cut in the IIM fee, Mr Dhinendra Tayal pointed out that while the government had slashed the fee in the management institutes, it was making up the deficit by allocating greater funds to the institutes.

In the meeting, he pointed out that the decision on fee hike rested with the university and not with the Administration which had forced its recommendations of fee hike on the colleges last year. He added that this amounted to impinging upon the autonomy of the university and ought to be checked.

On the directions of the Union Government, the Syndicate has given its nod to doing away with the 5 per cent seats reserved in courses under the “Backward Classes” category. The university was admitting students from the “Other Backward Classes” in this quota. The recommendations of the Syndicate would be put before the Senate for approval.

The budget of the university, as recommended by the Board of Finance, was approved by the Syndicate. A detailed discussion on pushing forward the pension scheme for university employees was also held. Prof P.P. Arya said the scheme should be made more viable and implemented by the end of March this year.


PU to revive 5 more scholarships
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

For once, activists from all students’ organisations agreed on an issue — condemning 25 per cent fee hike for professional courses — and threatened to oppose it tooth and nail, if implemented.

Whether it was the Panjab University Students’ Union or the National Students Union of India, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad or the Haryana Students Union, activists of all organisations met every Syndic individually before the meeting began.

They submitted a memorandum to each member opposing the hike and urging them to approve a “reasonable increase” only.

Chandigarh, February 28
After successfully reactivating 10 research scholarships in the last year, five more such scholarships would be revived in the coming academic session. Their amount, too, has been hiked from Rs 2,500 to Rs 3,600 per month.

Approved by the Panjab University Syndicate at its meeting held here today, the decision is aimed at benefiting non-NET students pursuing their PhD at the university after clearing the entrance test.

A budget of Rs 99.40 crore was passed by the Syndicate. The annual expenditure of the university is down from Rs 96.1crore in 2003-04 to Rs 91.8 crore which is the revised estimate. While the revised deficit for 2003-04 is Rs 47.5 crore, the approved deficit for 2004-05 is Rs 52.8 crore. Departments have been allocated Rs 35 lakh for development against their demand for Rs 8 crore.

The budget includes proposals for the construction of shops at the University Institute of Engineering and Technology, provision of Rs 30 lakh for payment of salaries of guest faculty in various departments and the construction of new hostels.

A committee chaired by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof K.N. Pathak, and comprising the Dean University Instruction, the Registrar and the Finance and Development Officer and the president of the Panjab University Teachers Association was constituted to look into the pension scheme.

The issue on allowing diploma holders from polytechnics in degree classes was deferred while a committee to enquire into misconduct and dereliction of duty by Mr J. S. Rathore, a Lecturer at the Directorate of Correspondence Courses was constituted.

The Syndicate approved a promotion policy for Library Assistants and Library Restorers while approving the redesignation of Programmers of the Physics Department as Lecturers. It was also decided that a policy would be framed for the remaining Programmers.

Dr R. K. Singla and Dr Rajiv Lochan were nominated to the Academic Council from among Readers while the names of Dr R. K. Gill and Dr Sukesh Kumari were approved for the Academic Council in from Lecturers.

While approving enhancing of water charges by Rs 5 to Rs 15 for various categories of houses on the campus, the Syndicate turned down the hike proposed in rent of houses.

The resolution moved by Prof P. P. Arya to treat 2004-05 as the “Year of Quality Enhancement and Work Culture” for creating a positive environment for work was approved.

Earlier, the Syndicate condoled the death of former Principal of DAV College Triloki Nath, and Justice H. R. Sodhi, a Fellow of the university from 1972-80.


Guldasta brings riot of colours
Tribune News Service

MC ‘ignores’ fest

The Municipal Council President, Mr Kulwant Singh, was conspicuous by his absence at the inauguration ceremony, especially when the MC was the co-host of the show with PUDA. Sources also pointed that some of the councillors too abstained from the show, alleging that they had been ignored by PUDA in the organisation of the show.

However, sources in PUDA were quick to counter allegations and stated that the councillors had themselves never tried to get involve. “Of the total expenditure of Rs 10 lakh that PUDA incurred on the organisation of the show, none of the councillors had even offered to get any sponsors,” said a PUDA employee. PUDA sources also said the MC was to provide drinking water at the venue but failed to do. Till 2 p.m. there was no drinking water for the visitors after which emergency arrangements were made by PUDA officials.

Mohali, February 28
The first flower show of Mohali, Guldasta, started at Silvi Park here today amid a riot of colours and festivity. Inaugurated by the Deputy Speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, the festival attracted thousands of residents to the venue where impeccable arrangements were made to ensure its success.

Addressing the gathering, Mr Bir Devinder Singh said the festival had established Mohali’s identity. “Today we have stepped out of the shadows of Chandigarh and will not be considered its poor cousin any more. The township has over the years built its identity and its time this gets recognition," he said.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh announced that Mohali would also be given a symbol like the open-hand symbol Chandigarh has. He added that Mohali Rattan award would be instituted which would be given to the best resident of the township each year on Republic Day.

Mr Sanjay Kumar, Chief Administrator, PUDA, the man behind the show, stated that PUDA had grand plans for the township.

Earlier, Mr Yashvir Mahajan, Additional Chief Administrator, PUDA, while welcoming the guests said the day would go down in the history of the township as the flower show would now be an annual feature. Ending with an Urdu couplet, he said,

“Phoolon pe jhoom ke bulbul hui nisaar, bhawaron ne badh ke choom liye lab gulab ke, rach si gayi fizaa mein mehak door door tak, ghul se gayee havaon mein darya sharaab ke.’’

To lessen traffic chaos the main road outside the park has been closed to traffic and over 60 stalls had been put up on both sides. Seating arrangement for over 2,000 persons has been made at the garden where a host of festivities began after the inauguration ceremony. As many as 200 school students performed on stage on the occasion.

A stall had been put up by the architectural wing of PUDA, where models of some of the upcoming complexes in Punjab were displayed. “We rarely get an opportunity to show the public our work. This is a good one and we have had many visitors since morning," said an architect with PUDA.

The day ended with a scintillating performance by Sufi singers — Wadali brothers and Manpreet Akhtar — at the venue.

An on-the-spot painting competition for children will be organised tomorrow along with another cultural show by PUDA employees and local artistes.



Cynthia wins first prize in ornamental plant category
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 28
A Panchkula resident, Cynthia Sheor, won the first prize both in the ornamental plant and seasonal potted flowers category in the individual competitions at the Mohali flower show here today. While Sushil Kumar of Sambhalakhi village won the first prize in the cacti and succulent plants category, Surinder Kumar Garg of Phase 9, Mohali, won second position in the same category.

Umesh Jindal of Navneet Nagar, Ambala, won two first prizes in the flowering plants in pots category while S.S. Gill of Phase 10, Mohali, also won two first prizes in other categories of the same type. The Principal of DAV Public School, Mohali, also won two first prizes while Virender Sharma of Sector 8, Panchkula, won four first prizes. Mishu Kohli of Sector 9, Chandigarh, won two first prizes while Subodh Sharma of Sector 69, Mohali, won a first prize in various categories of competitions of flowering plants in pots. Cynthia Shear, Anil Srivastava of Sector 71, Mohali, S. S. Gill, Gurbax Singh of Phase 11, Mohali, Virander Sharma, Umesh Jindal and Mishu Kohli also won some of the second prizes in these categories.

Engineer in Chief, HUDA, bagged the first prize in the cacti and succulent group in the perineal foliage and potted ornamental plants category. The Chief Administrator, HUDA, won the second prize in this category. The Chandigarh Housing Board won the first prizes for the best collection of Crotons, while Lawrence Public School, Mohali, won the first prize for the best collection of bonsai.

The Chandigarh Housing Board also won the first prizes in seven different categories of seasonal potted flowers category while Continental Device India Limited won three first prizes in the other categories of the same type. Gopi Applied Limited Ambala, Delton Limited, Chandigarh, Chaman Batika, Ambala, and the Institute of Microbial Technology, Chandigarh, also won first prizes in the rest of the categories of the same type. Entries of the St Xavier’s High School, Sector 20, Panchkula, the Chandigarh Housing Board, Chaman Vatika, Ambala, VeeKay Nurseries Industrial area, Chandigarh, the Chief Administrator, HUDA, won second prizes in these categories.

Over 200 entries of various flowers and plants had been received at the garden which will be displayed during the show. Entries to the various cut flowers categories will be adjudged tomorrow.


BJP’s tractor gimmick
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 28
More than 90 tractors participated in the ‘Alakh Jagao’ tractor rally of the local unit of the BJP here today. This one was the second in the series of campaigning programmes for the parliamentary elections.

The rally included more than 10 sarpanches and 80 panches of local panchayats. Mr Satya Pal Jain, a former MP drove one of the tractors and he was accompanied by Mr Yash Pal Mahajan, president of the local unit of the BJP.

The rally started from Kamalam, the party office in Sector 33 and passed through Sectors 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 15, 16, 18, 19 and 27. It also passed through Halo Majra, Kishangarh, Mani Majra, Mauli Jagran, Raipur Kalan and Darua villages.

Mr Ramvir Bhatti, state secretary, while addressing a rally at Hallo Majra said “Local Congress looked frustrated when it claimed that there were no more than 50 tractors in the entire city so how had the BJP managed them?”

Mr Jain said instead of giving wrong statements, the Congress should accept the changing public opinion in favour of the BJP. He said the BJP was the best choice to look after the interests of the local people.


City BJP recommends Jain as poll nominee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 28
The local unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party has unanimously recommended the name of Mr Satya Pal Jain, a former member of Parliament, as the candidate for the forthcoming Parliamentary election, a press note said here yesterday.

A decision in this regard was taken by the state election committee which met under the chairmanship of Mr Yash Pal Mahajan, president of the local unit. The recommendation has been made in response to a “request” made by the high command of the BJP asking its state units to sent their proposals and recommendations about the name of candidates.

The name of Mr Jain was unanimously cleared by the eight membered election committee.


Encroachers have a field day at shopping centres
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 28
With the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) and the Municipal Council (MC) turning a blind eye to rampant encroachments in the passages of shopping centres, the encroachers are having a field day in the township.

Shoppers are at the receiving end as there is hardly any space left for them to walk in the corridors. In the absence of any space in the corridors the public is forced to walk on the space meant for parking of vehicles. However, the haphazard parking of vehicles makes the movement of shoppers even more difficult, particularly during the inclement weather.

The situation in the markets of Sectors 7,8,11 and 15 seems to have gone out of control. A visit to these markets revealed that crockery, readymade garments, clothes, bakery goods and general merchandise items have been placed by shopkeepers in front of their shops.

Apart from this, equipment like deep freezers, gas stoves and popcorn machines have been placed in the passages, violating the Indian Petroleum, Indian Electricity, Excise and Taxation, and Pollution Control Acts, alleged Mr S.K. Nayar, president of the Indian Citizens’ Forum.

Even as the Acts are being violated with impunity, public safety seems last on the agenda of the law enforcement agencies. Sources stated that HUDA and MC are faced with an acute staff shortage, hindering their work.

Mr Sunil Jain, secretary general of the forum, rued that HUDA had cared little for the implementation of the HUDA byelaws and master plan of the urban estate. Repeated campaign against the encroachers had proved to be an eyewash, with the result that the situation is back to square one.

However, what pains the residents is the fact that repeated pleas to the authorities concerned have fallen on deaf ears. In fact in the absence of an agreement between the MC and HUDA over the removal of the encroachments the residents are at their wits’ end.


Police refutes Himachal CM’s allegations
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 28
The Panchkula police yesterday refuted allegations of the Himachal Chief Minister, Mr Virbhadra Singh, that the President of the HP unit of INTUC, Mr Amarjit Singh Bawa, has been “falsely implicated”.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr Rajesh Duggal, DSP (City), said the police would come down heavily on the alleged criminal activities of Bawa. Bawa, who was recently nabbed by the police on a complaint of a local lawyer, Mr M.K. Sisodia, is in judicial custody.

Mr Duggal claimed that after the arrest of Bawa, residents of the Kalka-Pinjore area had heaved a sigh of relief. He refuted the allegations of the Himachal police that the Panchkula police had been venturing into its territory in search of Bawa and his associates.

He said the police would put up a strong case against Bawa and his associates. He claimed that after his arrest, certain fresh criminal cases have been registered against Bawa.

Mr Sisodia alleged that the Himachal Chief Minister was “shielding” Bawa for his petty political gains. It was for the first time that the Himachal government had “shielded” Bawa and his “henchmen”, Mr Sisodia alleged. In fact, he (Mr Sisodia), who had a long-standing rivalry with Bawa, was falsely implicated by the Himachal police in Shimla last year, Mr Sisodia added.


Irregularities brought to notice of poll chief
Our Correspondent

Mohali, February 28
Six municipal councillors of the town brought to the notice of the Punjab Election Commissioner various irregularities done by employees while preparing voter lists for the year 2003.

Mr Amrik Singh said here today that he along with Mr Manjit Singh Sethi, Mr Manmohan Singh Lang, Mr Sukhdev Singh Patwari, Mrs Manmohan Kaur and Mrs Harbans Kaur had met the Punjab Election Commissioner.

The Election Commissioner was told that the Mohali voter lists for the year 2003 had been prepared in an irresponsible way and not in accordance with the directions of the commission.

He said that the voter lists for Phase XI residents had been prepared in such a way that about 50 per cent of the voters would not be able to find their vote on the polling day and the remaining 50 per cent would not be able to find the polling booth.

He said that in Phase VII names of a number of persons, who had been issued slips at the time of a survey carried out by employees, were not entered in the voter list. The names of the voters of Phase VI had been entered in the list meant for the voters of Phase IV.

People faced a lot of harassment when voter cards were prepared on February 24 and 25 in the town. The councillors demanded that voters cards for Mohali should be prepared on the spot as was being done in Chandigarh.


PF office holds workshop
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 28
The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation, Regional Office, Punjab and UT, organised a workshop on national social security number at the Press Club here today.

Mr A.D. Nagpal, a member of the Central Board of Trustees, Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation, requested the employers, members of the EPF scheme to cooperate with the department in streamlining the system for speedy settlement of cases.

The keynote address was delivered by Mr N.N. Sharma, Regional Provident Fund Commissioner-I, Punjab and UT. He talked about the need and importance of re-engineering Business Process. He spoke on the benefits of issuance of national social security number. It would help employees in submission of returns and their identification.


Verma for social security system for elderly

Chandigarh, February 28
The time has come to have an institutionalised social security system to look after aging population of the country. This was stated by UT Administrator Justice O.P. Verma (retd) at the annual function of the Senior Citizens Association of Modern Housing Complex, Manimajra, here yesterday.

Justice Verma said with increasing longevity of life, the population of senior citizens was going up. With the dwindling interest rates on the bank deposits, the return to the citizens on their investments was also declining. Only institutionalised social security system for the senior citizens was the answer of this problem, he added.

Justice Verma said it was the responsibility of the society to look after the interests of senior citizens who have given prime of their life for the development of our country.

The Administrator said senior citizens are eligible for 50 per cent concession for travelling in Chandigarh Transport Undertaking (CTU) buses. Instructions have already been issued to various hospitals, dispensaries, Estate Office and public places to have separate queues for senior citizens. TNS


Tempers run high over kiosk
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 28
Tempers ran high in the Bapu Dham Colony, Sector 26, here today over a kiosk in front of the shop of a councillor of the Municipal Corporation. The police had to intervene to solve the matter.

Sources said trouble started earlier during the day when the councillors’ workers tried to remove the kiosk in front of the shop. The kiosk had existed there even before it was removed for the tiling of the market recently. The flour mill owner (councillor) did not want the kiosk to be erected there. Following heated arguments, the police to intervene.

Certain councillors of the Congress also visited the Bapu Dham police post and it was agreed that the kiosk be allowed at the same place.


Cop’s hand in encroachment alleged
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, February 28
A resident of Nabha village, Mr Kuldeep Singh, today alleged that a police official of the Lohgarh police post here has allegedly been shielding certain persons of the same village who have encroached upon his land.

In a complaint to the SSP, Patiala, and the DSP, Dera Bassi, Mr Kuldeep Singh has alleged that in charge of the Lohgrah police post helped Sukhdev Singh and his associates in encroaching upon his land. The police official remained camping at the site while Sukhdev Singh and others constructed a boundary wall and laid a passage through his land, he added.

Mr Kuldeep Singh also complained that the official also abused members of his family when they tried to resist the encroachers.


Book on flood control released
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 28
At the World Congress on Natural Disaster Mitigation held at New Delhi early this week, a book entitled “ Practical aspects of flood management” co-authored by two Punjab Engineers- Mr Ram Chand and Mr Parminder Singh Bhogal- was released by Mr O.P. Goel, President, of the Institution of Engineers, India.

Mr Bhogal said here today that the book covered the gravity of flood disasters and other related aspects. He said the book would be valuable reference work for engineers, academic institutions, civil administrators, and NGOs.


2 hurt as truck collides with car
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, February 28
Two car occupants were injured, one of them seriously, when a truck collided with them on the busy Kalka-Chandigarh highway near here late last night.

Bharat Kumar Suri, who was seriously injured, was taken to the Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, Chandigarh. His companion Sanjay Sharma was also injured in the mishap.

The driver of the truck reportedly fled the scene, leaving behind the truck.


Suicide bid by two women
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, February 28
In a bid to commit suicide, two women consumed some poisonous substance yesterday.

Parvinder Kaur of Tasimbli village and Sukhwinder Kaur of Badana village were taken to private nursing homes in Ambala in semiconscious condition.

In their statements to the police, the women claimed that they consumed some poisonous substance mistakenly.

Cyclist hurt

An unidentified cyclist was injured when a truck heading towards Kuranwala village on the Dera Bassi-Barwala road hit his cycle, near here, on Friday. Police sources said the cyclist was tipsy. The cyclist was taken to the Civil Hospital, Dera Bassi. He had not regained consciousness till the filing of the report.

Meanwhile, the police has arrested truck driver Avtar Singh. The truck has been impounded.

Property dealer held

The police has arrested a Dera Bassi-based property dealer, Rajesh Kumar, alias Bittu, for cheating his customer, Rajinder Kumar Chauhan, of Rs 10,000 taken as earnest money for a piece of land two years ago.

In a complaint to the police, Mr Chauhan alleged that he had paid Rs 10,000 as earnest money to Bittu for a piece of land worth Rs 42,000, in 2001. Despite repeated visits, the property dealer did not get the plot registered in Rajinder’s name and he finally came to know that the piece of land was existing nowhere in revenue records.

Bittu was today produced before a Rajpura court and was remanded in judicial custody.

Motors stolen

Electrical goods, including motors, pipes and other items, were stolen from some tubewells in Bhankharpur village on the Kalka-Ambala highway on Thursday.

Body found

The mutilated body of a resident of Bir Dandrala village resident was found on the Kalka-Ambala railway line at Gholumajra village near here this morning.

According to Mr Rampal Singh, in charge railway police post, Lalru, some passerby noticed the body on the track and informed them.

The victim was identified as Raj Kumar (32). The body was sent to the Civil Hospital, Rajpura, for a postmortem examination.

He was said to be a daily-wage worker and is survived by his wife, four daughters and two sons.


Leh Berry to launch new flavours
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 28
Leh Berry, the seahorsethorn fruit juice produced by Ladakh Foods Limited, will now tantalize your taste buds with two new flavours — peach app and fruit mix.

The juice has anti-ageing properties. It has managed the third position in the packaged juice segment, after Dabur’s ‘Real’ and Tropicana. The juice is obtained from the wild fruit growing in the upper reaches of Himalayas. It has better nutrient value (has over 100 nutrients) and also has Vitamin E and K, which are not there in other packaged fruit juices, claim the manufacturers.

Following a research, the DRDO has termed it as mandatory for troops posted at high altitudes.

Mr Ajay Kumar, general manager (sales and marketing), Ladakh Foods Limited, said the new variants would be formally launched on March 10. The new variants of the natural energiser would have a refreshing taste, appetising flavour and appealing colour. In just a year of launch, the juice was being offered by Sahara Airlines, Western Railways and was available at all 29 railway stations in Mumbai, besides over 350 outlets in the city, he said. He said a total of six new flavours would be launched by June this year.

The drink is available in packs of 200 ml and 1,000 ml. “It has no preservatives. Only sugar and citric acid has been added to improve upon the taste,” claimed the official. 


Hyundai set to become biggest car exporter
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 28
Hyundai Motor India Limited plans to become the biggest exporter of passenger cars and auto components this year.

This was stated by Mr B.V.R. Subbu, president of the company, while talking to mediapersons here yesterday. He was in the city to inaugurate a new dealership, KLG Hyundai, in the Industrial Area, Phase I, here.

He said the company was the fastest growing car manufacturer in India. It was presently making over 18 variants of passenger cars.

The company had sold over 5 lakh cars in a record time of just over five years since commencement of commercial production in September, 1998. He said the company would soon launch its latest offering, Getz.


Syndicate Bank to start e-banking
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 28
Syndicate Bank will start e-banking soon. This was stated by the bank’s Chief Manager, Regional Office, Chandigarh, Mr O.N. Bansal, at a customer’s meet organised by the local branch here today.

Mr Bansal said the bank would be linked through networking. It would also provide ATM facility to its customers shortly.

Earlier, various customers appreciated the service rendered by the bank branch and the dedication of its staff. The Senior Branch Manager, Mr V.K. Gupta, assured the customers of the best-possible services by the bank.

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