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Parents skip office as...
CBSE Class XII exams begin
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
Anxiety was writ large on the faces of parents as their children appeared in the first paper of Class XII examination of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) which began today. The examination was conducted at 34 centres of the city smoothly with no case of copying being reported at the control room set up at the Regional Office of the CBSE here.

The number of students appearing in the physics paper was the maximum followed by those appearing in marketing subject in the commerce stream. Comparatively, the number of students appearing in various subjects of professional courses was less.

Though the scheduled timings for the three-hour examination to begin was 10.30 am, many parents preferred to reach the venue of examinations well before time to ensure that their wards did last minute revisions. It being the first day of examination, some parents skipped their offices to be with their children.

At DAV Model School, Sector 15, some parents waited till the end of examination. Most of the students began the day by paying obeisance at religious places taking blessings of their teacher. Meenakshi, who took the physics paper, was given sweet curd to eat by her mother as it is considered auspicious.

To instil confidence among the candidates, many private schools ferried their students to the examination centres along with their teachers. Other students were ferried either by their parents or came on their own vehicles. Varinder, a student of Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 19, said, “I preferred to come on a bicycle as I had to first go to a temple and later take a friend along to the examination centre.”

A worried parent, Surinder Puri, said, “I was relaxed when my son told me that he had attempted all questions in the physics paper”.

As the bell rang marking the end of the examination, the anxiety of parents waiting outside the examination centre, was at its height. It was only after interacting with their wards that they looked satisfied. A student from Government Model School, Sector 19, Priyanka, was seen being quizzed thoroughly by her father on the answers she wrote to various questions she had attempted.

When the examination ended, there were traffic jams outside the examination centres. There were no policemen present to regulate the traffic.

Meanwhile, the Regional Officer of the CBSE, Mr P.I. Sabu, said the examination at 294 centres was conducted smoothly. He said no complaint of copying was received as the board had for the first time, deputed independent observers at the centres, especially at the centres in rural areas. He said a wireless system had been set up at the CBSE office with the help of the Chandigarh Police. The answer books were transported to the secrecy centre under tight security in the evening.

Meanwhile, a number of students quizzed by the Chandigarh Tribune expressed satisfaction over the questions asked in the physics paper. However, some students said the questions in the Part B of the paper warranted lengthy answers. The paper in the marketing subject of the commerce stream was easy to attempt. 



Villagers to move court against land acquisition
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 1
More than 500 villagers of the Mohali subdivision will approach the court against the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) to stop it from acquiring their land. This was decided by sarpanches of the villages that had been shortlisted by PUDA for the acquisition of land to carve out new sectors in Mohali.

These sarpanches headed by Mr Tejinder Singh Jakhar, one of the affected landlords, today formed a Kisan Dukandar Hit Bachao Committee that will jointly take up the matter in the court on behalf of the affected farmers and landlords.

Landowners of Sohana, Lakhnaur, Landran, Bermpur and Manak Majra villages had last month formed protest committees at the village level and submitted formal protest letters with PUDA on February 19. Sources in PUDA, however, today confirmed that these objections had been disposed of by the authority stating that such objections which demanded the cancellation of the complete acquisition process could not be entertained.

Alleging that PUDA had no right to dispose of their objection without giving them a personal hearing, Mr Jakhar alleged that PUDA was trying to hurry up the issue and deny justice.

Stating that they were not ready to part with their lands, Mr Jakhar, along with some other affected landlords, told The Tribune that PUDA was ‘looting’ the landlords in every way. “PUDA buys the land from us at Rs 10 lakh an acre and then develops it at the rate of Rs 15 lakh an acre. But when it comes to selling, PUDA makes on an average Rs 7 crore an acre through its various commercial, residential and institutional ventures. To top it all, PUDA does not allow us to sell our land to anyone as it is within the periphery controlled area,” he said.

Mr D.P. Singh, one of the leaders of the farmers, also pointed out that the land within the Sohana village lal dora was being sold at Rs 1.5 crore an acre while PUDA was paying a paltry sum of Rs 10 lakh. “We are not asking PUDA to increase the land price award. We are totally refusing to part with our land,” he said.

The sarpanches had come to Mohali to attend the land price fixation committee meeting to be chaired by the Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, but the meeting was cancelled in the wake of the Model Code of Conduct coming into force.

PUDA had on January 24 advertised its first notification dated January 19, 2004, with respect to the acquisition of approximately 690 acres of land in these five villages. According to the PUDA notification, more than 170 acres will be acquired in Sohana village, another 209 acres in Lakhnaur village, 21 acres in Landran, 124 acres in Bermpur and 162 acres in Manak Majra village. However, sarpanches of five other villages Mouli Baidwan, Raipur Khurd, Chilla, Manouli and Durali had also joined these villages.



Fake matric certificates in circulation
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 1
Fake matriculation certificates of the Punjab School Education Board here have been found in circulation in Barnala. Sources revealed that a private tuition academy in Barnala had given “pass” certificates of the board to its students, all of whom had failed in their Class X examinations.

The matter came to light when one of these students reported the receipt of a fake certificate from the board to the Barnala police and the inquiry officer visited the board office to look into the matter.

The sources also said that the board Chairman, Dr Kehar Singh, had called a special meeting to discuss the issue on Friday and announced to the employees that the person involved in the making and issuing of fake certificates should “surrender” and face punishment.

The SP, Mohali, had on November 28, 2003, busted a fake certificate racket in the board that had led to the arrest of four persons, including two board employees.

However, the matter does not seem to have ended with the arrest of these four as sources pointed out that the making and circulation of these certificates was not possible without the connivance of board employees.

The student, Harpreet a resident of Jodhopur village, Barnala, had in September, 2003, appeared as a matric examination candidate under the open-school scheme of the board. He had appeared with a group of students of the Barnala Tuition Centre being run by a former teacher, Ms Usha rani. Fifteen students are said to have appeared through the centre. Though many of these students failed, Ms Usha Rani allegedly managed to procure fake certificates from the board and issued them to the students.

The Barnala police told The Tribune that Harpreet’s parents had come to them with copies of the fake certificates, which bore signatures of the secretary but no stamp.

Also, the certificates had signatures of some checking clerks and an assistant of the board. Harpreet’s parents also told the police that Ms Rani had taken Rs 9,000 from her as “special” fee that she had to pay the board for the certificate. The police said a case against Ms Rani was yet to be registered as an inquiry was on. Ms Rani, however, is reported to have fled.

The Secretary of the board, Mr Mahinderbir Singh, said the board could not be held responsible for any misdeed of its employees not related to the board’s work. ‘‘There is a foolproof system of making and issuing certificates in the board. Special colors are used and these inks are not available outside. But since computers have become very hi-tech, its is easy to make fake certificates. But the board has nothing to do with the whole thing,” he added.

In November 2003, Babu Ram, a board employee, along with another employee and two boys Manikaran Singh and Ashwini Goswami, both residents of Mohali, had been arrested on the charge of forging vital documents, including matriculation and other certificates of the board.

Fake signatures ?

Sources pointed out that the fake certificates had the signatures of a former Secretary of the Board, Mr Jagjit Singh Sidhu. While the certificates were issued on November, 18, 2003, Mr Sidhu had retired from the board over a year ago.



3 jail officials dismissed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
Three officials of the Model Burail Jail have been dismissed from service by the Chandigarh Administration under Section 2 of Article 311 of the Constitution of India. The three — D.S. Sandhu, Welfare Officer designated as Deputy Jail Superintendent, V.M. Gill, Deputy Jail Superintendent, P.S. Rana, Assistant Jail Superintendent — all under suspension for their alleged role in the escape of three terrorists, were dismissed today.

On January 21, three undertrial assassins of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh, escaped from the jail through a tunnel.

The dismissed officials were arrested along with J.S. Rana, Jail Superintendent. Since J.S. Rana belongs to Punjab, action against him will be taken by that state. Senior officials refused to comment on whether the officials’ dismissal from the service was like pre-judging the case as the inquiry by Mr R.S. Gupta was yet to be completed. The matter was also pending before a court.

Sources said the Administration would be writing to the Punjab Government seeking the dismissal of suspended Burail Jail Superintendent J.S. Rana. The IG Prisons, Mr Amitabh Dhillon, had been asked to take action against two sepoys who were suspended along with the jail officials. The action against the policemen and the Jail Superintendent was expected within this week, they said.



Making helpless children smile
Monica Sharma

Mohali, March 1
Doctors do not scare Ramandeep of Jalandhar district. Just two-year-old, he has been operated upon twice, unsuccessfully. But hopefully things will now be different for him. After a few days, Ramandeep will be able to flash a smile just like any other child, for a team from Canada is working on his cleft lip, free of cost, under “Operation Rainbow Canada”. The operation would have cost his parents around Rs 20,000 in a private hospital.

He is not the only one whose life will be filled with colours after the operation. In Mohali’s Civil Hospital, since February 21 the team has successfully operated upon 69 patients from all over the region.

Members of the team left Vancouver on February 20. At Delhi, they were joined by an anesthesiologist from the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, Dr Mahesh Arora. “His expertise in the field as a visiting professor in Canada has been of great help,” says Dr Robert Purdy from Vancouver.

The first day of surgery was February 22. The operations began at around 4 pm and continued till 8 in the evening. Four patients with cleft lip were operated upon. The next day as many as 10 operations were performed.

Ramandeep’s family came to know about the team’s visit through his taxi-driver father who drove the members to Mohali from Delhi. During the course of conversation, the doctors told him about their mission — to operate 71 children suffering from deformities. The others were informed through local doctors and nurses.

“As the word got out, over 400 children got themselves registered for the surgery,” reveals Canada-based plastic surgeon Dr Kimit Rai. He founded “Operation Rainbow Canada” in 1998. “After screening, 71 children were chosen for operations,” he adds.

Class II student Asha is among those waiting for a chance to get operated upon. She does not reply to the queries, her eyes answer the questions. Tears roll down her cheeks as her mother tells you about the humiliation she suffers in the school. Asha was just one-year-old when she injured her upper lip after falling from a cycle.

Her case is a little different as Asha needs cosmetic surgery, while “Operation Rainbow Canada” — a registered, non-profit organisation of Canadian nurses and physicians — focuses its mission work on cleft lip and palate deformities.

The missions are small. About 15 to 22 members participate. The teams include surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses and non-medical staff. “Based on facilities available, the team members provide care for 45 to 60 patients, aged between three months and 14 years, for one to two weeks,” Dr Rai asserts.

The organisation holds major fund raisers each fall and spring. They also depend upon donations and receive government grants.

The team, comprising four anesthesiologists, two surgeons, one pediatrician, nurses and coordinators, operated upon eight patients today. They will be conducting about 100 operations on 71 patients as some children require more than one surgery. On an average a single patient costs, including pre-operative care, Canadian $ 900.

Dr Rai has conducted 11 missions in Mexico and the Philippines. After Mohali, the team will be going to Lebanon in November. They plan to come to India again next year.

Giving details of the mission, Dr Arora says, “The aim is to treat children who cannot afford care and cure. The educational purpose of the mission is to make people aware how anesthesia is administered and how patients are taken care of so that they are not scared of the procedure. We are carrying with us monitors, drugs, medication and other supplies.”

He adds, “Nowadays, better recovery is possible due to availability of shorter acting anesthetic drugs and use of local anesthetic creams. Children are applied anesthetic cream so that they do not even feel the pain of the needle prick.”



Tips for senior citizens to lead dignified life
A.S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Brig Keshav Chandra (retd)Chandigarh, March 1
Respect flows from financial control. That is the rule of the game everywhere. And in the case of senior citizens, it is even more so. There is any number of instances where the head of the family has been shifted from the bedroom to the garage because he no longer controls the purse strings.

This is among the tips the Chandigarh Senior Citizens Association (CSCA) has been offering to its members for some time now. "Family counselling is also part of our activities. We do go and talk to the members of the family if an instance of an excess with a senior citizen is brought to our notice. But this is not our main activity," says Brig Keshav Chandra (retd), president of the association. "We try to focus on a host of other issues which keep the senior citizens involved in society and help them lead a useful and dignified life."

The CSCA is perhaps the oldest and biggest such body in the region. It came into being nearly eight years ago. Chandigarh has a senior citizen population of over one lakh with all the problems that old age entails — physical insecurity, ill health, loneliness and low morale resulting from the absence of a support structure that the traditional joint family system provided at one time. Registered under the Indian Society Registration Act, 1960, the CSCA has been trying to fill the gap to the best of its ability.

Almost all the sectors of the city have a senior citizens' body but the CSCA is the biggest of them with a membership in excess of 650. Nearly 20 per cent of the members are ex-servicemen, 40 per cent former bureaucrats and about 15 per cent engineers. "We also have as many as 26 doctors among us, besides a few retired judges. Some of the members come from the neighbouring Mohali, Panchkula, Zirakpur, Kharar and Morinda," says Brig Chandra.

The membership of the association is open to all sections and communities and is granted to retired people and other residents of Chandigarh and its neighbouring areas who have reached the age of 60 years and are willing to do social work for other senior citizens.

Late Col O.C. Verman was the first president of the association. After Col Verman, the choice of president fell on Mr P.H. Vaishnav, former Chief Secretary, Punjab, whose high profile and reputation stood the CSCA in good stead.

All activities of the CSCA are aimed at meeting the physical, social, intellectual and psychological needs of senior citizens and getting them their due place in society.

The CSCA is now running four physiotherapy centres — one each in Sectors 7, 16, 38-W and 44 of Chandigarh — each of them equipped with state-of-the-art equipment operated by trained physiotherapists. There is a proposal to set up one more centre shortly. An acupressure centre has been opened. Besides, yoga classes, medical lectures, seminars, fellowship and fraternisation get-togethers, picnics are also organised.

Socially relevant activities include Shravanika, a project designed to involve youths in providing care and companionship to lonesome senior citizens and thereby strengthen the special bond between grandparents and grandchildren.



HC disallows carrying of petrol in old vehicles
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
Petrol station owners in Punjab, Haryana and the Union Territory of Chandigarh will not be able to transport fuel in tankers and carriers more than 15-year-old even if the vehicles have been issued fitness certificates by the authorities concerned.

A Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today turned down the plea of a Dharampur-based service station seeking directions to the Indian Oil Corporation and other respondents to permit transportation of fuel in "self-owned" tankers.

The judgement is significant because the court did not agree with arguments raised by counsel for the petitioner. He had claimed that, expect in Delhi, vehicles more than 15-year-old were being allowed to operate as they "were fulfilling the statutory requirement with regard to fitness".

Counsel for the respondents, on the other hand, had submitted that allowing petrol station owners to transport petrol and diesel at their own risk in their own vehicles was not included in company's policy.

Appearing before the court, counsel for the respondents had further submitted that tenders were floated by the organisation for the purpose of transporting fuel. Moreover, the applicants had to fulfil certain conditions regarding the age of the vehicle.

Counsel had added that otherwise also the corporation had decided that the vehicles used for carrying petrol and diesel should not be more than 15-year old.

After going through the documents and hearing the arguments in the case, the Bench, comprising Mr Justice S.S. Nijjar and Ms Justice Kiran Anand Lall, dismissed the petition.

In their two-page order, the judges observed: "No relief can be granted to the petitioner. The respondents have categorically stated that the vehicles which are over 15-year old cannot be permitted to ply. It is not denied that the petitioners' vehicles are over 15-year old."




Photo by Pankaj Sharma A MORNING walker in Shanti Kunj in Sector 16 was bewildered to find that among the cluster of trees, one particular tree always remained isolated for no birds would even fly near it. Little research here and there and one comes out with startling facts. The tree is a camphor tree (See photo) that possesses a strong anaesthetic quality which can make small animals or birds fall asleep at its trunk.

The tree with a botanical name Cinnamomum Camphora is one of the three varieties of camphor trees that are found in the Asian subcontinent. Apart from making birds sleep, the tree is also known for its medicinal value. Different parts of the tree yield medicines for cardiac problems, joint pains and skin ailments.

What’s more, the tree has a religious value, too. Since time immemorial, it has found its place in ‘havans’ and other religious ceremonies. “Though the tree repels birds, still from an environmental point of view, it has its own value in the eco-system. It is an evergreen tree with thick foliage that provides shade in the summer,” says Mr S.K. Sharma, president of the Chandigarh Chapter of Environmental Society of India.

Stray dog menace

One of the most-populated sectors of the city, Sector 20, is slowly turning into a stray dogs’ paradise. With the Municipal Corporation (MC) failing to spare a thought to tackle the stray dog menace, the hapless residents are proverbially at the receiving end of the dogs.

Even as the stray animals have a field day, the residents, particularly those returning to their homes after work at night time, face the fury of the dogs. There have been a number of cases of persons injuring themselves when their two-wheelers lost balance after a chase by the dogs.

Will the MC, whose record of providing civic amenities has been dismal, do something before the situation takes a turn for the worse?

Springfest of PGI

The medical calling is a gruelling profession. In the midst of the thronging waves of the sick and the dying, the ‘sunny side’ of life, humour and artistic and literary skills of the staff get brushed under the carpet. Therefore, any event which allows them to focus their attention somewhere else is always welcome.

The annual Springfest cultural extravaganza of the PGI which is scheduled to be held this year from March 17 to 21, serves as an antidote to the often-depressing circumstances, and provides a welcome diversion from the rigours of academic life, says Dr Judy Laldinpuii, senior resident (neurology) and General Secretary of the Association of Resident Doctors, PGI.

It allows the talented doctors, nurses, paramedics and staff to get in touch with their artistic side. This provides for an all-round development of their personalities. Further, in the hierarchical world of medicine, it allows a rare chance for the intermingling of residents, faculty and paramedics in an informal atmosphere of friendly competition.

The culture of Springfest is almost as old as PGI itself. It is held annually. Most of the indoor events are held in Bhargava Auditorium within the campus. Events are conducted from the evening hours onwards so that the routine hospital work is not disrupted. After gruelling preliminary rounds, the participants battle for supremacy in artistic, cultural and literary activities. The audience is also treated to a sumptuous display of dances, choreography and fashion shows from our in- house talents as well as invited performers. The nights are filled with the disco lights and lively rhythms of the nightly makeshift discotheque in the upper cafeteria. The event culminates in the popular outdoor rock show featuring popular artistes.

Land of sea-farers

This may be news to you. But as much as 60 per cent of the Indian sea-farers come from North India which is located at about 1,000 kms away from the nearest coastline.

There are at present more than 3,000 sea-farers, serving as well as retired, in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh. Of them, as many as 1500 are settled in the Chandigarh-Mohali-Panchkula belt.

According to Mr G.S. Sahni, Director-General of Shipping and ex-officio Additional Secretary, Government of India who was in Chandigarh last week to address a meeting of the Merchant Navy Officers Association of Chandigarh, there is a great demand for Indian Merchant Navy officers because they are disciplined and well trained, can speak fluent English and have a good tradition of Merchant Navy. “Ratings, we are not as dominant. Filipinos constitute the bulk of the nearly two lakh Ratings, with the Chinese coming up fast. The main handicap facing the Chinese has so far been their inability to speak English language. They are now trying to overcome this problem through crash English language courses.

One major reason why Filipinos outnumber all others among Ratings working in Merchant Navy ships in the world is their willingness to be hired at less than the approved wages of $1,000 per month. Indians on the other hand insist on being paid the approved rate.

Right step by Mayor

Mrs Kamlesh, the Mayor, has started touring residential quarters catering to different sections of the population in the city, lately. The first choice was Ram Durbar, her constituency. She started the tour on Saturday by verifying the official claims of “excellent water supply”.

Mrs Kamlesh found that residents of different localities showed her low water pressure,. The concerned officials were asked to look into the matter straight-away.

The Mayor followed up this with her visit to Burail, Sector 45, on Sunday. She heard the complaints regarding cleanliness, roads and water in potholes. The concerned officials have been forwarded the request for necessary action. On Monday the Mayor went to the Mauli Jagran area and heard the grievances of the people.

Mrs Kamlesh said she will travel to all parts of the city personally to hear to the complaints of the people right at their doorstep. “ Not all people come to my office so the office should attempt to reach out to people”, she added.

The Municipal Corporation will set up a quarterly review committee to look into the functioning of different wings and implementation of different projects.

Mr C.K. Sawhney, a councillor, mooted the proposal for a quarterly review saying often only at the end of a financial year it was discovered that no work had been carried out on a particular scheme.

Quarterly review was also an effective tool to maintain accountability of the officials, Mr Pradeep Chhabra Senior Deputy Mayor, said. Mr Chhabra was of the opinion that a committee of the councillors, including certain officials, could be formed to which each project officer or the contractor concerned should submit reports regularly. This was also recommended as favourable for ensuring quality of work.



Meeting on streamlining electoral process held
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
All complaints of genuine voters have to be heard and complainants may be asked to fill the requisite forms and after proper verification and hearing, if found in order, they should be enranchised, the Returning Officer-cum-Deputy Commissioner, Mr Arun Kumar told all Assistant Election Returning Officers (AEROs) at a meeting here. The meeting was held to streamline the electoral process.

The AEROs were asked to ensure that all eligible persons were able to exercise their voting rights.

Mr Arun Kumar also stressed on the need for speedy disposal of complaints and for better coordination among AEROs.

He said one official from each of the AERO’s office would be deputed to the Election Department.

The meeting further decided that a control room would be set up at the DC Office, Sector 17.

It would be functional during working hours on all days, including Saturdays and Sundays.

Regarding training about the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs), the DC said a calendar for training the trainers would be prepared.

These trainers would then educate the masses regarding the use of EVMs.

The meeting was attended by the Additional Deputy Commissioner, Mr I.S. Sandhu, Mr N.S. Brar, Mr S.P. Arora, Mr Arun Sekhri, Mr Naresh Narwal, Ms Madhavi Kataria, Ms Sarita Malik, Mr H.S. Kandhola, Mr O.P. Popli, Mr Gurdeep Singh and Mr D.S. Mangat.



Barn owl flies back to its habitat
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
After a two-day sojourn in the City Beautiful, the golden-hued barn owl today went back to its surroundings. Rescued by a shopkeeper in Sector 22 yesterday, the owl had arrested the attention of almost every visitor to the shopping area. It was later taken away by UT Wildlife Department authorities, who kept it at the main gate of the Nepali Forest Range until finally releasing it today.

UT Chief Wildlife Warden Ishwar Singh, when contacted, confirmed to The Tribune that as planned earlier, the owl of rare occurrance was released back into the forest today. He said since the owl had recovered from its injury, it was set free rather soon. Interestingly, as in Sector 22 yesterday, the owl remained an object of everyone’s attention till the time it was allowed to fly back into its habitat.

It may be mentioned here that the owl had been wounded in its wings, most probably because of being chased into the city limits by crows. Yesterday, it was not even in a position to fly. However, after being nursed by the shopkeeper as well as UT Wildlife Department people, the owl was able to take its flight back home.

Avid bird watchers, meanwhile, maintain that the owl was rarely spotted in the city. However, a Sector 21 resident Mr Ravi Inder Singh, on reading The Tribune story this morning, informed that he had spotted some such owls in the trees near his house. Maintaining that these owls were barn owls, he added they could often be spotted in the bird sanctuary at the backside of his house. The species of these owls is, however, yet to be determined. These are much smaller in size than the barn owl that was spotted in Chandigarh yesterday.

Significantly, the bird sanctuary in Sector 21 is reportedly the only notified bird sanctuary within the city limits in India. 



Eco Notes
From barren to fertile fields
Vishal Gulati

Chandigarh-based Central Soil and Water Conservation Research and Training Institute has started a pilot project on a tributary of the Tangri river near Narayanpur village in Raipur Rani sub-tehsil to restore fields affected by mass erosion. The project, funded by the World Bank under the National Agricultural Technology Project, was started in 2001. At present, it is near completion and has started producing results.

With an expenditure of Rs 35 lakh, about 88 acres of silted-up fields belonging to 22 farmers have been replaced with green fields, trees, grass and bushes.

The principal investigator of the project, Dr A.K. Tiwari, says every year during the rainy season, torrents cause extensive damage to life and property in the area by scouring beds and eroding banks.

Torrents are small mountainous streams rushing down with sediments. On reaching mild slopes, water loses velocity. Since the flow carries a huge load of sediments, it results in the deflection of the torrent course.

To protect the fields, a torrent-prone area was identified near Narayanpur village. About 1.7 km of the choe was treated downstream from this point.

Dr Tiwari said mechanical and vegetative measures were taken to deflect the flow towards the centre of the choe and protect the banks. Thirty-two gabion spurs, one gabion wall and earthen guide embankment were constructed.

Nine vegetative spurs were made with the plantation of munj, bamboo and nada. Guide embankments were stabilised by planting munj, kans, bhabbar and dub and banks by planting nada, munj, ankra and bamboo. Nada and munj proved to be excellent in controlling erosion and retarding torrent velocity.

Jungle jalebi, khair, sheesham, semul, jamun, kikar and eucalyptus were planted to stabilise the semi-reclaimed and damage-prone sites on the choe bed and banks.

Today, farmers are reaping benefits on the reclaimed fields. The paddy and wheat yield has increased to 35 and 28 quintals per hectare (q/ha), respectively. They are also cultivating pulse crops like gram (10 to 14 q/ha) and green gram (8 to 12 q/ha). A large area has been brought under horticulture. Fodder is also available in the village. Groundwater level has increased and so has the milk yield.

Dr Tiwari says this is one the best cost-effective technologies developed by the institute for the treatment of choes. In Haryana alone, about 238 sq-km area falls under choes, according to figures collected through satellite digital imageries.



Fauji Beat
Patrolling LoC indispensable

A lot has been written and said about the failure of our intelligence in the Kargil sector in 1998-99. But for this failure the enemy, it is said, could not occupied some of our posts on the LoC. While this cannot be denied, the question that a battalion commander must ask himself is: “ How could the enemy come and occupy a post in his area of responsibility if he was awake?”

What was inexcusable on part of the unit commanders in the Kargil sector was that after vacating certain posts during the winter, they did not even send patrols to these posts. For this blunder, which caused embarrassment to the Army and cost it dearly, the divisional and brigade commanders concerned cannot be absolved of the blame.

If we leave our posts unoccupied, no enemy will be stupid enough not to occupy them. Various reasons have been given for vacating these posts, which one finds difficult to swallow.

Under no circumstances should patrolling be dispensed with in any type of operation, least of all in the defensive operations. Otherwise we run the risk of being surprised by the enemy. And this was exactly what happened in the Kargil sector.

It is learnt that great emphasis is being laid on patrolling after the Kargil war. The army should intensify its patrolling not only in the valley but also in the Jammu region because the international border (IB) in this region is no less active than the LoC in the valley.

Gujjar Scouts come too late

Like the Dogra and Ladakh Scouts, another such force is likely to be raised in Jammu and Kashmir. This force will be called Gujjar Scouts. It will be deployed along the LoC to tackle the infiltrators.

The raising of the Gujjar Scouts should have been done much earlier. In May 1965, when Pakistan let loose its “Gibraltar Force” of trained guerrillas into the valley, the Indian Army threw them out and cleared the valley in August 1965. This prompted Pakistan to launch “Operation Grand Slam”, an armoured thrust into the Chhamb sector.

We would not have detected the Gilraltar Force had the Gujjars not informed us about it. When some of the elements of this force were seen by the Gujjars this side of Bannihal, they informed the Army. By this act, they (the Gujjars) proved their loyalty to us.

Had the government cashed in on their loyalty at that time, things would have been much different.

Medicare for ex-servicemen

Some of the ex-servicemen, who are above 75 years of age and have not opted for the Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS), are in doubt whether they will continue to get treatment at the military hospitals. They will, undoubtedly, continue to get treatment at the military hospitals as they have been getting in the past.

As for the Medical Benefit Scheme (MBS) members, who have not become members of the ECHS, they too can continue to get treatment at the military hospitals in addition to treatment for the diseases mentioned in the MBS in the prescribed civil hospitals.

As of now, the MBS will be operative until March 31, 2005. However, efforts are being made to get this scheme extended for another five years. Legally speaking, this scheme cannot be terminated without the consent of its members. For, it is an insurance of ex-servicemen, who are its members and their spouses for treatment for life by the Army Group Insurance (AGI), amounting to a contract between the two parties.

Army medical college

What we needed badly in this region was an Army medical college. At one time it appeared that, like the Army Institute of Law (AIL), we were getting a medical college here. But the seat of power at New Delhi has snatched it from us. It would have been much easier and quicker as it happened in case of the AIL to start an Army medical college here. But at New Delhi, it will take a long time to get land and after that it will take another few years before the college can start functioning.

Pritam Bhullar



Governor releases Kriti Puri’s book
Our Sports Reporter

Chandigarh, March 1
The book ‘ Kian and the Secret of Track one’ by 16-year-old Kriti Puri was formally released today by the Punjab Governor and Administrator, Union Territory, Chandigarh, Justice O.P. Verma (retd) at the UT Secretariat.

Justice Verma congratulated the young writer and appreciated her work while wishing her success in life. Describing Kriti as a child prodigy and ‘Suitable girl’ of Chandigarh’ Justice Verma said Kriti by writing this book at this young age and with outstanding sports background in skating and other activities had done proud to the City Beautiful.

Exhorting her to continue with her passion in writing, Justice Verma hoped that he would get an opportunity to see her another work soon. He said Kriti had justified her name by creating this outstanding fiction. Praising the work, he said the book was so absorbing that one could not put it down till it was finished. It was amazing that a young girl could write such a book, he added.

Kriti Puri has to her credit a Ministry of HRD Cultural Talent Search Scholarship for Advanced Training in Bharatnatyam, National Talent Search Scholarship by NCERT, several gold medals in roller skating at the national-level, bronze medal in roller hockey at the Asian skating Championship held in Taiwan in 2001, a state award by the Chandigarh Administration, a National Child Award by the Vice-President of India.

Motivated by her mother an IRS officer and father a doctor, the book has won accolades from writer Khushwant Singh.

Though Kriti has been winning prizes in various writing competitions and debates, the book is her first attempt in fiction. The story revolves around a 12-year-old boy Kian. From being a sport hater to finding his own place in the unique excellent sports training academy (ESTA) and eventually becoming an ice hockey champion.

According to Kriti, a number of incidents, which happened with her or her friends in school or in playground had been woven into the novel. Elaborate conversations among the schoolchildren are not only interesting but also true to life. The fun and frolic of school life and the emotions of a young boy who is compelled by circumstances to mature before age had been realistically brought out by her in the book. She had began writing the book when she was a student of class X at Carmel Convent School.



Resentment among Dera Bassi truckers
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, March 1
Resentment prevails among members of the Dera Bassi Truck Union, after a six-member committee, constituted by the Sub Divisional Magistrate, deleted names of about 40 truckers from the voter list.

During the scrutiny of the voter list for the union elections, scheduled to be held on Monday. The committee reportedly found some members fake and their names were deleted.

Mr Kuljit Singh Randhawa, a former president of the union, and his associates claimed that Mr Gurcharan Singh Pappu, another former union president, in connivance with members of the committee, cancelled the names of his men from the voter list. The committee had erased the names of genuine members of the union, he said.

On the other hand, Mr Pawan Kumar Mahendru, another former president of the union, said the cancellation of membership of some truckers as genuine. He said the Randhawa groups often created nuisance during union elections.



APS Corps celebrates 32nd anniversary
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
The Army Postal Service (APS) Corps celebrated its 32nd anniversary in Chandi Mandir military station, near here, today. Besides organising a barakhana for all serving APS personnel and ex-soldiers of the Corps stationed in Chandigarh and its vicinity, a tea party was hosted for officers in the Western Command, a statement issued here said.

The most important contribution of the APS in the life of a jawan was that it brought cheer to him through letters from his near and dear ones, whether he was in the snow-capped Himalayas, dense forests of the North-East or the deserts of western India a Defence staement said here.

The Corps plays a significant role in boosting the morale of the troops deployed in inhospitable terrains. It provides postal cover not only to the Army but also to the Air Force, Border Road Organisation, Rashtriya Rifles and paramilitary forces like the BSF, Assam Rifles and ITBP.

The Army Postal Service is an extension of the Department of Post in the Defence environment.



Readers Write
Fine heavy vehicles for pollution

I happened to travel by my own Maruti-800 car from Delhi to Panchkula on 17-2-2004. As soon as I entered Haryana, there was a police checking party, a few kilometres away from the Delhi-Haryana border. The police was stopping practically all the cars for checking of their documents. Accordingly, I, too, was asked to stop for a check. All my documents were complete, except the “pollution control check certificate”, which was about 11 months old. The constable asked me to pay a fine of Rs 1000 for which a receipt was to be issued. When I told him that it was a very minor issue and the fine was too heavy, I was told to give Rs 300 without a receipt. Ultimately, the deal was stuck for Rs 200.

Naturally, I went for arranging a certificate at the next petrol pump on my way. The person manning the pollution check instruments told me that these vehicles (ie Maruti-800) are pollution free, and gave the certificate without checking the exhaust gases and charged his fee.

Now the question arises what is the use of these rules? It is only encouraging corruption and harassment to car users without any check on pollution. In fact three-wheelers and trucks and buses emitting heavy smoke are never questioned. The best thing would be to scrap the present system, and arrangements should be made to make spot-checking of those vehicles which emit heavy smoke, and fine them.


Why can’t Admn make Panchkula safe?

I am writing this with pain and anguish about the spate of robberies, murders and thefts being witnessed in Panchkula and the couldn’t-careless attitude of the Administration. As if bad roads and cattle menace were not enough, the anti-social elements are having a field day.

The latest robbery in a Sector 16 house is only one of the many such incidents the town is in the habit of witnessing almost on a daily basis. Haryana has planned to open multi-storeyed malls and an IT park is coming up along with new government buildings to promote development of Panchkula, but the authorities have failed to understand the basic requirements of development, the safety and security of human beings and materials that constitute the heartbeat of its towns like Panchkula.

Admittedly, the Panchkula Administration is short of resources, but that is what management of resources is all about. Making optimal use of available resources to meet the specific objectives of security of its residents is the task assigned to the Administration. Unfortunately, bureaucrats and the police have miserably failed on this front. A responsive government ought to have sacked both the functionaries. If they have not been able to demand and get additional resources by preferring to behave like impotent subservients, it was again their choice.

COL D.S. CHEEMA (Retd), Chandigarh

Footpath narrowing inner roads

During the past few weeks the Municipal Council, Panchkula, has been undertaking cemented paving of footpaths along the inner sector roads as well as improving parks. The cemented titled footpaths no doubt add to a better look but have resulted in narrowing the already not-so-wide internal sector roads, so much so that it has become difficult for two vehicles to cross, especially at the turnings and crossings.

The narrow roads with the existing plan of right angle crossings and turnings inside the sectors have led to a number of accidents. The authorities need to pay attention to this aspect while carrying improvements to avoid increase in accidents and thus safeguard the life of the residents.

BRIG H.S. SANDHU (Retd), Panchkula

Do the cops really care?

Through this communication of mine, I would like to highlight and bring to the notice of all concerned the plight of vehicle owners entering the city from other states, who undergo tremendous stress at the hands of Chandigarh Police. Many such vehicles can be seen cornered every day on pretext or the other. I don’t know whether it is true that each cop has his ‘share’ on every challan he issues. Is it justified to penalise a person moving between adjacent commercial sectors for not putting up the safety belt while driving on roads that have been flooded with traffic lights and where safe speed limit code is operational? In order to avoid this ordeal with cops, people prefer not to visit City Beautiful and take a bypass or use the vehicle of a relative bearing a Chandigarh registration number.

If Chandigarh Police really means and wants to live up to its motto ‘We Care For You’, some wisdom must prevail. An erring person can be warned initially by a written comment on the driving licence and be penalised subsequently if the same fault is repeated within a stipulated time-frame. They must educate the public and display proper instructions at every entry point of the city by deputing only a few cops and the rest can be assigned some more meaningful duties.

R.S. Kishtwaria, Palampur (Kangra)

Health Department in unhealthy condition

Through your esteemed newspaper, I want to draw the attention of the authorities towards the step-motherly treatment meted to the Health Department of Patiala. After being shuttled out of the new mini secretariat, the Civil Surgeon’s office of Patiala is now placed in the old PWD building near the General Post Office. The building lacks even the basic amenities like electricity and water supply. It is really shameful that the Health Department is being made sick by the government, which is organising health melas every now and then just for the sake of cheap publicity. Is this the way to treat the doctors and paramedical staff? I request the Chief Minister who represents Patiala in the Punjab Assembly to have a close look into the matter.

Dr Sachin Kaushal, Patiala

‘Paris of Haryana’ no longer

This is with regard to ‘Panchkula, the Paris of Haryana’. With the formation of the Municipal Committee, things have gone from bad to worse. Earlier, it was one white elephant and now there are two, and the latter is the bigger brother. Tax payers have now to maintain two white elephants, with conditions worsening day by day. It is the story that one man will do certain work in a certain time, but if there are two they will take double the time, instead of half — as they would then be gossiping most of the time. Panchkula, too, has now two masters — white elephants to eat and do less work. Take the latest example. The work of the HUDA Water Department was going on usual. One fine day consumers were asked to deposit bills in the Union Bank, Sector 5. First they refused but later agreed. Why all this confusion?

Street lights have no ‘father’ too, as also stray cattle and dogs. So much so that the public has to kill dogs at times, and the house owners are seen shooing away cattle daily. The beauty is there is nobody to listen. The elected representatives feel their term is lifelong and there is no second time when they may have to face the public. Politicians are shortsighted and feel they can fool the public all the time.

Muskaan Khanna, Panchkula

Combine all 3 engineering colleges

It is learnt that this year Panjab University is going to add the branches electrical and mechanical engineering to its Engineering College located within the university campus. Till date, the branches being run in the university college have been those only which did not exist in PEC (Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh). This arrangement went well and gave the impression of perfect harmony between PU and PEC as PEC is affiliated to PU only. Opening of same branches that exist at PEC in PU Engineering College also will send out entirely different signals. Better will be to increase the number of seats of electrical and mechanical branches in PEC itself and not to start separate branches in PU.

In case PU really wants to add prestige to its engineering courses, it should combine all the three engineering colleges under it and name them as IIT, Chandigarh, with the campus at PU, Sector 12 (PEC), and Sector 26 (TTTI). it is not necessary that an IIT should have a comprehensive campus area. It can have different locations within a city. PU authorities should take up the case of getting sanctioned the name of IIT, Chandigarh, for its engineering colleges and admission should also be made under IIT JEE instead of AIEEE.


Miracle of Shree Yantra

These days great publicity is being given from SAB TV regarding the miracle of Shree Yantra. The sponsors claim that by keeping this in the house and worshipping it, peace and tranquillity prevail in the family, there is lot of wealth and prosperity, business progresses rapidly, the unemployed gets the job of choice promptly etc. This is sheer nonsense and a deceitful way of pushing the people towards superstitions. The pity is that those who profess and propagate it, are well civilised and elite people.

The sponsors further claim that during the Mahabharat war, Lord Krishna advised Arjun to make use of the Shree yantra for achieving victory over the Kauravs. It is beyond comprehension how could a ‘yug pursh’ indulge in such fictions. This is a great insult to him.

The general public and NGOs should vehemently oppose and protest against such baseless advertisements that mislead the people and do incalculable damage to their wisdom and compel the government to ban such harmful advertisements.

T.R. GOYAL, Manimajra

Civil amenities lacking

The lights in the public park in the middle of Sector 71, Mohali, are not functioning for the last month or so. This park is popular amongst residents for walking and leisure. Non-functioning of lights is causing great inconvenience and security apprehensions to the users.

Garbage clearance leaves much to be desired. Unauthorised dumps are mushrooming all over. Roads are being swept, yet the garbage collected by sweeping is deposited near the road berms and never cleared. It either spreads again with wind or causes blockage in flow of water, resulting from rain or floor cleaning of houses.

Will the authorities concerned please do the needful to remove these deficiencies in civic amenities?

Lt Col Bhagwant Singh (Retd), Chandigarh



Governor serves langar to PGI patients’ attendants
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 1
Punjab Governor-cum-UT Administrator Justice O.P. Verma today served langar to the attendants of patients admitted to the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research here.

A philanthropist, Mr Jagdish Lal Ahuja, has been organising the langar at the institute for past 15 years. He informed the Governor that langar was served to more than 1,500 attendants of patients everyday.

On the occasion, gifts were handed over to the children accompanying the attendants. More than 100 blankets were also distributed to the attendants spending their night in the open.

Justice Verma appreciated the endeavour of Mr Ahuja in providing succour to the needy. He said more NGOs should join hands in “this noble task” in other hospitals also.



Water supply to be affected today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
Water supply to various parts of the city will be affected tomorrow and Friday, an official press note said here today. The supply will remain suspended because of the ongoing repair work on pipeline between Kajauli and Sector 39.

The water pipe is witnessing certain replacements. This could lead to low water pressure in certain areas of the city.Back


Rights panel website to be inaugurated today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
The Governor of Punjab and Administrator, UT, Chandigarh, Justice O.P. Verma (retd), will inaugurate a website of the Punjab State Human Right Commission at the office of the Commission in Sector 34-A, tomorrow.


8-day Nanaksar samagam starts
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 1
The annual eight-day samagam of Nanaksar (Kaleran) started in Sector 28 today. The samagam started with Sampat Akhand Path. According to the organisers, the samagam will conclude with the bhog of Akhand Path.

They added that a kirtan darbar will also be organised on March 7. Throughout the samagam, there will be community kitchen, the organisers said.



Wad of papers for genuine currency
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
A man from Uttaranchal allegedly passed off a bundle of papers as a wad of currency notes of Rs 100 denomination to another person from the same state at the ISBT, Sector 17, here last night.

Sher Singh of Dehra Dun allegedly asked Ghanshyam if he would like to exchange his Rs 500 notes for new Rs 100 notes. Ghanshyam accepted the offer, but what he got was a wad having new Rs 100 notes at the top and the bottom of the wad.

Sher Singh went away after the transaction.

Later on, Ghanshyam realised that the wad contained only two genuine notes, at the top and the bottom of the wad and in between them were papers of the same size.

Ghanshyam approached the police. Sher Singh was arrested and Rs 500 notes given to him by Ghanshyam were recovered from his possession. Sher Singh has been remanded in judicial custody by a local court. He has been booked under Section 420 of the IPC.

This is the second such incident at the ISBT. Last time, a person from Chandigarh was arrested in this connection when the police sent a decoy customer following a tip-off that some persons were passing off papers as currency notes.



Raw material worth 40 lakh stolen from godown
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
Ind-Swift Limited, a pharmaceutical company based in Industrial Area, Phase II, has reported a theft of raw material worth Rs 40 lakh. The company has got a case registered at the Sector 31 police station.

A company representative said it had announced a reward of Rs 50,000 to anyone who gave information about the theft. The incident happened on the night of February 25 at the company godown in plot No. 787, Industrial Area, Phase II.

The Director of the company, Mr V. P. Mehta, said it could have been the handiwork of either a technical person or a dealer as only they would be able to assess the value of the raw material.

He said the company, whose registered office was in plot No. 781, had taken on rent a plot opposite the office for a godown only a month ago and deployed two security personnel and a night watchman.

He said on that night, the security personnel had locked the godown at 8.30 pm. The manager of the company, Mr Pardeep Jaidka discovered the next morning that the locks of the godown had been broken and the raw material stolen. 



Bandh against steel prices today
Tribune Reporters

Ludhiana, March 1
Several bodies of the steel consuming industry today decided to observe a bandh tomorrow as a token protest against the “attitude” of the government towards the steep hike in the prices of steel.

Representatives of the industry, who met under the aegis of the Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings here today, felt that the meagre relaxations in customs duty and central excise duty announced by the Union Government would not check the arbitrary policies of steel producers.

They said the engineering industry, including the bicycle and cycle parts industry, would not be benefited by the cuts on duty because the exempted units in the SSI sector were debarred from availing Modvat Credit on the duty-paid steel material used by them.

All sectors of the light engineering industry, including bicycle, sewing machines and machine tools, are apprehending mass closure due to the hike in the prices of steel.

The industry is of the opinion that the 5 per cent cut in the import duty on steel by the government was too little and no sincere efforts had been done to “discipline” major steel producers who were holding the small-scale sector to ransom.

Industry representatives pointed out that the duty cut on the import of steel would not make a significant difference in the prices of steel in the domestic market.

Mr P. D. Sharma, president of the Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry, maintained that the cut was eye wash and would not benefit the domestic steel producers.

The Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings has also ridiculed the nominal reduction in the import duty.

The Engineering Exporters Association of India said the economy was in a shambles and the government was turning a blind eye to the arbitrary pricing policy of the major steel producers. .

Mr Sukhdial Singh and Mr Kirpal Singh Sagar, president and general secretary, respectively, of the Ludhiana Machine Tools Makers Association said the machine tool industry had virtually been paralysed. They said the imminent closure of thousands of small engineering units would lead to unemployment.



Small units’ plea on raw material 
Tribune New Service

Chandigarh, March 1
The Federation of Small Scale Industries passed a resolution here today urging the Union Government to ensure proper and timely availability of raw material to the small-scale units.

The members of the federation held a meeting under the chairmanship of their prominent Mr Yash Pal Mahajan. They praised the Central Government for taking tough steps for controlling the rising prices of steel.

Mr Rajeev Gupta, general secretary of the federation, said in a statement that main producers should be asked to supply at least 50 per cent of the material to the small-scale industry. He said steps like withdrawal of the DEPB and reduction of customs duty on coke and pig Iron would reduce the production cost of primary and secondary steel manufacturers, which in turn would bring down the prices of finished product. The reduction of excise duty from 16 per cent to 8 per cent would also bring down the prices, the said.

It was also suggested that the Government of India should discourage export by imposing export duty as had been done by the USA.



Will shopping mall concept take off ?
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 1
Will the shopping mall concept take off in the township? The answer seems to be in the negative if the under-development of the Sector 5, where the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) had auctioned two shopping mall sites for a whopping about Rs 50 crore recently, is any indication.

With hardly any takers for a majority of the built-up property, observers are keeping their fingers crossed about the success of the shopping malls. And this is despite tall claims by HUDA that the town is all set to enter the shopping mall bandwagon in the wake of an overwhelming response to the recent commercial auction.

However, a visit to the sector revealed that a majority of the built-up property was lying vacant since the authorities had failed to market it as a commercial centre. Development of the basic infrastructure seems to be last on the agenda of the authorities.

The construction of parking lots and laying of roads are the only things HUDA had done in the name of the development since early eighties, alleged Mr Joginder Singh, one of the partners in a firm, which had constructed a four-storeyed complex. He alleged that even after spending crores of rupees on buying of plot and subsequent construction, there had been no return on it as there were no takers for it, he alleged.

It was only now that HUDA had started levelling the land of the mall sites and carpeting the road around them. Some of the buildings are in a dilapidated condition. Wild vegetation, in seems, had virtually taken over a substantial part of the sector. Encroachment of the verandahs by the migrants compounds the problems.

Echoing almost similar sentiments, Mr Umesh Jain, a leading property dealer, said the area was not properly developed before being auctioned by HUDA. As the buyers realised that the returns were not going to be enough, a number of allottees defaulted on the payment. This coupled with the lack of amenities proved fatal for the sector and the commercial activity remained in its infancy.

The sector, which boasts of the city centre, the Nirjhar Vatika, the Town Park (Yavinka Open Air Theatre), the Cactus Garden, is also unsuitable for the shopping malls for another reason. Basically, it is “leisure sector” where visitors come for relaxation. Observers doubted whether the “leisure sector” would transform into a shopping mall sector and bring the “metropolitan culture” to town.

On the other hand, official sources said the success of the shopping malls in the sector would push up the other economic activity. The bidders for the shopping mall sites must have taken into consideration the “development” in the sector before buying sites.

An upsurge in the property prices indicated that the township is ready for the shopping mall culture. The response to the auction of malls had been better than even Chandigarh where a shopping mall site was withdrawn recently, the sources added. 


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