C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


O.P. Verma’s announcements Ignored!
Who runs the Administration?
Ajay Banerjee

On September 6, 2003, the Punjab Governor and Chandigarh Administrator, Mr Justice OP Verma (retd), took a famous bus ride. Accompanying him was a full capacity crowd of officials. The destination of the trip: City's southern sectors. The reason: the Administrators personally wanted to check on the state of affairs in these neglected areas and initiate remedial steps.

The bus ride was apparently bumpy and through miles of slush. The reason for this was not difficult to decipher. Monsoon had set in and bad drainage had flooded the roads with knee-high water at places. Storm water had also cut through the roads and created craters and niches.

After inspecting the conditions of roads and the storm water drainage system, the Administrator okayed a detailed plan to upgrade the infrastructure in Sectors 39 to 47. Justice Verma announced that road dividing Sectors 39 & 40; Sectors 40 & 41; Sectors 41 & 42 and Sectors 46 & 47 would be re-carpeted.

Six months down the line, the much-hyped bus ride and the announcement has come to a naught. None of these roads have been re-laid and Sectors 35, 42 and 40 where rainwater had accumulated last year, have not yet been given the promised storm water drainage system.

It may seem strange, but the orders issued by the UT Administrator Justice O.P. Verma (retd) for the benefit and development of the city are not being implemented. One excuse after another is used to put his announcements in the cold storage. However, in the bureaucracy-heavy Chandigarh Administration, the Administrator is he only public appointee who can meet the citizens' aspirations.

Justice Verma has been holding regular meetings with officials of the Administration where certain suggestions are made and matters pertaining to development of the city are discussed threadbare. The officers are asked to follow up regularly. But finally nothing happens to these orders.

The case is similar with another public welfare-oriented measure. For long, scooterists, cyclists and even four-wheelers have been using kutcha paths as shortcuts to enter sectors. In various meetings since September, the Administrator had been asking officials to seal the shortcuts and thereby ensure that accidents do not take place. No action has been taken on this order by the Administrator.

However, some work has been done from funds routed through the MP Local Area Development (MPLAD) account. The worst-effected southern sectors have seen virtually no progress in this area. People are still using the shortcuts unmindful of the dangers for other road users.

(To be continued)



Alert cop prevents suicide at Sukhna
Tribune News Service

Sandeep, who was booked for trying to drown in the Sukhna Lake along with his two children in Chandigarh
Sandeep, who was booked for trying to drown in the Sukhna Lake along with his two children in Chandigarh on Wednesday.

The rescued children with their mother
The rescued children with their mother. — Tribune photos by Parvesh Chauhan

Chandigarh, March 3
Irked by constant bickering of his wife, a 23-year-old tailor from Sector 21 today tied his two children to his body and jumped into the Sukhna Lake.
They were, however, saved by a policeman, Jagdev Singh, who was patrolling the area. Sandeep has been arrested for allegedly trying to kill his six-year-old daughter, Reema, and three-year-old son, Deepak and committing suicide.

They were later declared fit by the General Hospital, Sector 16, where they were medically examined.

This is the second unsuccessful attempt by a man to commit suicide by jumping into the Sukhna Lake during the past few days. However, a dowry victim Geetanjali, had met her watery grave during this period. This is the third case of attempted suicide be registered in the police station (North). In the first case a scooterist jumped into the lake. Then a barber, tried to hang himself. In all these cases lives have been saved by the policeman. The children have been restored to their mother.

A high-drama was enacted in a local court where Sandeep was produced. His estranged wife wept inconsolably and collapsed in the court. Later, Sandeep was taken to Burail Jail.

The immediate provocation for an attempt to commit suicide was Sandeep’s wife’s insistence on attending the wedding of her brother in Ludhiana. Sandeep allegedly beat up his wife and an altercation followed between the couple over the issue.

Sandeep today picked up his two children from Saint Mark School in Sector 21 when his wife, a domestic help, had gone for work. He told the children that they were going on a picnic. Sandeep brought two scarves along with him and tied the children to his hands before jumping into the lake.

Sandeep got separated from his parents four years ago when his wife could not get along with her in-laws, the father of the accused Ram Chander, a rickshaw puller with Saint Joseph School, told Chandigarh Tribune. The parents of the two had tried to persuade them to improve their relationship.



Investment in stocks on the rise
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
Chandigarh, which has many firsts to its credit, is also numero uno as far as the per capita investment in stock markets is concerned. Surprisingly, people from the small towns of Punjab and Haryana are investing in a big way in the stock market going by the response of the investors towards the public issues which opened this month.

About 7 per cent of the population of Chandigarh and the satellite towns of Panchkula and Mohali are investing in the initial public offers ( IPOs) of various public sector companies floated by the Ministry of Disinvestment and also in the secondary market. The data available with various financial and investment companies reveal that Chandigarh is on the rise as far as investment pattern in stocks is concerned as against 2 to 3 per cent of the total population of the country investing in this market.

Chandigarh and the satellite towns account for a whopping 7 per cent of the total investment. Another unique feature of the investment pattern is that women, mostly from the banking sector, are investing in the capital market. This is because the working condition of the market has improved and is more quick, fair and transparent.

Mr V. Kumar, a stock broker and investment consultant of Vikson Finance and Investments Ltd, says, “People from the city and the neighbouring townships are lapping up the IPOs floated by various public sector companies. Even though majority of investors have already burnt their fingers, they are once again coming back to cash in on the ongoing boom.’’ The response to the IPOs of IPCL, GAIL, PETRONET LNG, Power Trading Corporation (PTC), Bank of Maharashtra, Dredging Corporation of India has been good right from day one as crores of rupees were being invested everyday,’’ he added.

The stock brokers claim that the success of Maruti, banking shares and now of Indraprastha stocks had encouraged the investors to try their luck again. Mr Kumar informed that the ONGC issue of more than Rs 10,000 crore had generated lot of heat in the region and people were eagerly waiting for it to open on March 5. BIOCON, a biotechnology company, will also be launching its share on March 11. The response only indicates that there was enough liquidity and awareness in the market due to high rate of literacy, he said. The main reason for the retail investor coming to the market was that for the first time the Government of India had offered 5 per cent discount on the bid price to retail investors investing less than Rs 50,000.

Mr Sanjay Tandon, a Chartered Accountant and leading stock broker, observed that “when there is boom in the stock market continuously for six months, it is bound to be followed by resurgence of the primary market’’. He said the fundamentals were in favour of India as the GDP was going to be 8 per cent. He advised the investors to weigh their options cautiously.

Inquiries from stock brokers reveal that the IPOs which were going to hit the market shortly included NTPC, BIOCON, Reliance Infocomm, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), BALCO, CMC and RCF.

Mr Kiran Suri, a banker, who had been making some money by investing in the stock market says, “BSE sensex has reached the level of about 6,000 points that the feel-good factor is very strong and it will continue all though the elections”. He said there was enough opportunity for the investors to make money via the stock market route as the banks were hardly offering interest on the fixed deposits (FDs).

Another broker said it was for the first time that Rs 18,000 was being generated through IPOs in a single year. The ONGC issue (Rs 10 crore), Gail (Rs 2,000 cr), IPCL (Rs 1,000 cr) and some other issue for Rs 5,000 crore are hitting the market by the month end. The previous record was of Rs 14,000 crore in 1994-95, he said.

Brokers in general attributed the boom in the market to the liberal funding by foreign institutes (FIs). They pumped in about $ 6 billion in 2003 and the target is $ 15 billion for the next fiscal year.



Hooda arrested in dowry case, released on bail
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 3
The Panchkula police today arrested the Leader of the Opposition in the Haryana Assembly, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, from his Sector 18 residence in Chandigarh in connection with dowry case filed against him by his daughter-in-law, Dr Geeta Grewal. However, subsequently he was released on bail.

According to sources, a police team from Sector 19 police station came to the house of Mr Hooda to arrest him. He was bailed out when he furnished the bail bonds.

Dr Grewal had filed a dowry case against four members of the Hooda family, including her husband, Mr Deepinder Hooda, her mother-in-law, Mrs Asha Hooda, and Mrs Saroj Hooda, wife of Mr Hooda’s elder brother, on January 19. Mr Deepinder Hooda is currently in the USA.

Mr Hooda had termed the case as a “politically-motivated” and alleged that the Grewals had demanded Rs 60 lakh for a “mutual” divorce.

However, Dr Grewal had been maintaining that it was purely a “domestic issue” and the Hoodas were trying to give it a political colour to sidetrack the issue.

Dr Grewal had unsuccessfully tried to meet the Congress chief, Ms Sonia Gandhi, during the latter’s road show in Haryana recently.



Punjab releases Rs 3 cr for spinal injuries centre
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

All those who have visited the Chandigarh railway station must have, on their way out of the station, noticed a reflecting sign board of the Punjab Government that takes pride in informing everyone about the existence of the Regional Spinal Injuries Centre in Mohali. The signboard is misleading since the site mentioned on the board, is an empty 5-acre complex dotted with semi-constructed buildings, while the actual centre is running from the Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, Chandigarh.

Mohali, March 3
After three years of having spent Rs 1.56 crore of the Government of India grant to Punjab for the opening of the Regional Spinal Injuries Centre in Mohali, the Punjab Government has finally released Rs 3 crore from its own kitty to make the centre operational.

Confirming this, the Director, Social Welfare Punjab, Mr Som Prakash, who is a member of the special committee constituted to run the centre, said the money had been released and was being forwarded to the Punjab State Industrial and Exports Corporation (PSIEC), that had undertaken the construction of the building. The centre was expected to become operational within the next six to eight months, he added. Once operational, the centre would also cater to patients with spinal injuries from Punjab’s neighbouring states for treatment and rehabilitation.

However, the way the Rs 3 crore was spent this time would be under the strict scrutiny as the committee was already facing allegations that the GOI funds were spent in an unplanned and haphazard manner. “Instead of focussing on constructing one complete building that could have at least operationalised the centre, a large number of buildings were left semi-constructed when the funds dried up,” a committee member said.

The project began in 2000 with the Punjab Government in collaboration with the Central Government. The total cost of the project was Rs 3.5 crore out of which the Government of India had to pay Rs 1.6 crore and once operational, would pay the recurring costs. The Punjab Government had earmarked five acres of land in Sector 70 here for the centre. The GOI amount was immediately used for the construction, but the Punjab Government failed to dole out its share and the project has since then remained incomplete. During this period a large amount of equipment for the centre was received as a grant from Italy.

As a temporary arrangement, the centre was made functional from the Department of Orthopaedics, Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), Sector 32, Chandigarh. The Head of the department and Medical Superintendent, Dr Raj Bahadur, who is also a member of the committee, said, “Even when the centre becomes functional from Mohali, a large amount of outside support will be given from the GMCH. The centre is not viable as an independent unit. It has to be constantly fed by a multi-speciality institution.”

Sources informed that the total cost of the project had gone up to over Rs 8.3 crore. “The construction was to cost Rs 1.4 crore and the rest of the amount was to be spent on the equipment etc. Now Rs 5.9 crore has been listed just for the construction. It’s not just because of the delay, certain additional facilities and features have been added to the initial design,’’ said Mr Bir Devinder Singh, MLA, Kharar, and Deputy Speaker, Vidhan Sabha, who had recently been made a member of the committee. 



Keep city clean to make it world class, say Bansal, Jain
Tribune News Service

Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal

  • Pawan Kumar Bansal (Congress) Involve residents in making the city garbage-free.
  • Increase planned township to handle over-population in adjoining areas with an efficient public transport system.
  • Make public offices more people-friendly
  • Develop all unkempt open spaces as parks and green belts.
  • Develop the city as a world-class tourist centre with new infrastructural facilities. 

Mr Satya Pal Jain

  • Satya Pal Jain (BJP) Extend the railway station withlinkage for journeys all over the country besides an international airport.
  • At least five flyovers needed to manage the traffic rush.
  • Implement project getting more water supply.
  • Cleanliness top the agenda of the authorities. 

Chandigarh, March 3
The city has a longway to go in maintaining a decent standard of cleanliness to become a “world-class”, which happens to be the common dream of the likely local candidates of the Congress and the BJP for the forthcoming parliamentary elections.

Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal (Congress) and Mr Satya Pal Jain (BJP) are unanimous in accepting that the city has dirty garbage dumping sites in different sectors which apart from being eyesores, are also health hazards. Mr Jain feels that very little care is taken for the removal of organic waste from a majority of land in the city.

Mr Bansal agrees that the city has yet to attain the minimum standards expected in a clean city. However, he states that a number of projects have been launched in this regard and these are showing results. “As many as 17 sectors have been made garbage-free with the involvement of residents welfare associations. Similar projects in 28 more sectors are in the pipeline. Long journeys begin with small steps”, Mr Bansal said another eyesore of the city faced was the sites for dumping “malba” and construction material near residential areas. Machinery has been purchased for the removal of the “malba”.

Mr Jain is of the view that traffic continues to be unregulated at a large number of places on city roads, leading to traffic jams. The public transport system is not catering to public requirements and inter-sector connectivity is very poor, he says.

Mr Bansal also felt that the city needed to develop an alternative transport system with more facilities for commuters. Enlarging the scope of discussion, Mr Bansal said the city was bulging and there was a need to develop new towns in the adjoining areas. The master plan should provide for an efficient public transport system from there.

Mr Bansal feels that adjusting the overflowing population is one major matter which the city needs to look into urgently. This was possible only with the development of alternative sites of living, with easier modes of transportation. Mr Jain said the regulation of population could help handle problems regarding housing, transport and availability of basic facilities in public offices.

It is also felt that enough has not been done to explore the potential of the city as a tourist attraction. Regarding the disposal of garbage, Mr Bansal said a global tender was being floated shortly not merely for the disposal of waste but also for creating “wealth from waste” by developing projects for its use. Mr Bansal also said the road gullies were being doubled for the disposal of rainwater, which led to the flooding of roads during the monsoon.



Jain misleading people, says Bahl
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
The president of the local unit of the Congress, Mr B.B. Bahl, said today that Mr Satya Pal Jain of the BJP was misleading the people with “untruths”. He said Mr Jain was irked by the official report from Delhi which said that Mr Pawan Bansal had topped in the MP Local Area Development Fund utilisation.

He said Mr Jain had started spreading rumours that Mr Bansal had given money for buying bulldozers for carrying out demolitions. Mr Bahl said Mr Bansal had given funds for the machines for removing “malba” on the roadside in the city and also for use at the Sukhna Lake.

Mr Bahl said the BJP government had taken the “retrograde” step of allowing the sale of commercial property on a leasehold basis only, adding that now Mr Jain was lying when he said that the leasehold system was abolished by him. Mr Bansal delivered the notification on June 20, 1996, and Mr Jain objected to this, he said.

Cong accused of code violation: Mrs Kamla Sharma, a former Mayor and leader of the local unit of the BJP, today accused the Congress of violating the Model Code of Conduct. She said Mr Pawan Bansal and the Mayor, Ms Kamlesh, were making announcements to lure the people of Chandigarh. She said orders had been issued to re-carpet the roads in Mani Majra before March 31. Similar orders have been issued for Burail also, she added. Yesterday, the Congress-ruled MC launched its website, she stated, claiming that these were infringements of the code of conduct.



BJP to organise ‘vishal rally’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
Mr Arif Mohhamad, a former Union Minister of the Congress, who recently joined the BJP, will visit the city on March 9, an official press note said here yesterday.
Mr Devesh Moudgil, state president of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, said a ‘vishal rally’ will be organised at Plaza, Sector 17.

Mr Satya Pal Jain, the candidate recommended by the local unit for the forthcoming parliamentary elections, today visited Mauli Jagran and Colony NoIV.

Meanwhile, a meeting of the Kashmiri cell was held at Sector 46 yesterday to express support for the BJP. Mr Jain also visited Sector 7, Mani Majra and Sector 22.



Sonia stopover in city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
The Congress President , Ms Sonia Gandhi, stopped briefly in the city while on her way to Himachal Pradesh today. Later she boarded a helicopter for her onward journey to Himachal Pradesh. Ministers of Punjab, Mr Lal Singh, Mr Pratap Singh Bajwa and Chaudhary Jagjit, along with the President of the local unit of the Congress, Mr B.B. Bahl, and the local MP, Mr Pawan Bansal, received her. Mr Venod Sharma, a former Union Minister, was also present at the airport.



Libra to focus on corruption, development issues
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 3
With the election fever catching on, the first set of I-am-sure-to-win statements are already being made by the candidates in the fray.
Mr Sukhdev Singh Libra, the Akali Dal candidate for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections from Ropar, today said he had defeated Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, the Congress MP from Ropar, in 1985 in the MLA elections and he would repeat the fete this year. All this, even when the name of Mr. Dullo has not been formally announced by the Congress as a candidate in the fray from Ropar.

Mr Libra was talking to mediapersons during his brief visit to his friend Gurpal Singh, Vice-President of the Akali Dal, Fatehgarh Sahib, at Kumbra village. He said the focus of his campaign would be unemployment, corruption, development and issues related to the Scheduled Castes. ‘‘The problems of the Dalits needed to be highlighted at the Centre,’’ he said.

Having recently completed his tenure in the Rajya Sabha, 74-year-old Mr Libra is not new to the political scene in Punjab. He was chosen member of the Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee in 1979 from Khanna after which he was elected MLA Khanna in 1985 as Akali Dal candidate. In 1991, he was given a ticket to contest MLA elections from the Amloh Vidhan Sabha constituency by the Akali Dal but the elections were first postponed and then boycotted by the Akali Dal. In 1998, he was nominated to the Rajya Sabha. An unflinching Akali, Mr Libra has also remained the senior Vice-President of the SGPC for one year.

Responding to the dissenting statements being made by senior Akali leaders, Mr Libra said he was not competent enough to comment on the matter. ‘‘But according to what I know, there is no rift within the Akali Dal and even if there is any, election time is for everyone to come together against a common opposing force,’’he said.

The Lok Sabha Ropar constituency has 13,40,792 voters, (according to the unrevised list) that fall within nine Vidhan Sabha constituencies. These include Samrala, Khanna, Chamkaur Sahib, Kharar, Nabha, Amloh, Sirhind, Dhuri and Mohali. The largest number of voters fall within the Kharar constituency that accounts for 2,17,082 votes.

Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo of the Congress had won the last Lok Sabha elections from Ropar in 1998 by getting 3,26,651 votes, defeating his nearest rival Ms Satvinder Kaur Dhaliwal of the Akali Dal by a margin of 77381 votes. The candidate of Sarvhind Akali Dal Balbir Kaur had fetched 1,18,353 votes.



Future looks rosy for Mansa Devi Complex
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 3
The Mansa Devi Complex, whose development left much to be desired during the first phase of planning of the township, is all set to become a residential and commercial destination.

The Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) today started the booking for 528 residential plots in Sectors 2 and 6 of the complex. It expects a good response to the new scheme from the public. And with a view to boost commercial activity, HUDA is auctioning a shopping mall in the complex on March 5.

The development of the IT Park at Kishangarh village, across Sector 2 of the complex has proved to be a blessing in disguise for HUDA. The development of the IT Park and the complex particularly Sector 2, which is just a stone’s throw from the park, would take off simultaneously.

Cashing in on the IT boom in the adjoining Union Territory, HUDA has timed the floating of the new scheme well. Previous auctions of commercial property in the complex had evoked an overwhelming response, prompting HUDA to float more commercial and residential plots.

The sources said the complex stood to gain from the infrastructure developed by then Chandigarh Administration for the IT Park. And with HUDA also planning the overall development of the complex, the area is on its way to becoming state-of-the-art residential and commercial complex. This, coupled with the coming up of several housing cooperative societies and a comparatively pollution-free climate, add to the USP of the complex.

A few years ago, there were not many takers for plots in the area as private colonisers ruled the roost. However, the situation took a turn for the better when the Haryana Government put its foot down and decided not to allow haphazard mushrooming of colonies . The land in question had witnessed a spate of cases filed by their owners and a majority of them have been settled in the favour of the government.

Last year, HUDA acquired over 950 acres of land in the complex for the development of six sectors. Sector 1 was earmarked for green belt and recreational areas and Sectors 2 and 6 for residential purposes. Sector 3 has been earmarked for a city centre. HUDA has already been developing Sectors 4 and 5 here.

A large chunk of 950 acres has been earmarked for Sector 2, while 359 acres would be developed as a residential area. With the provision of shopping centres, Sector 6 would be the second residential area that would be developed on 119 acres.



Army to share book on leadership with civilians
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
The secret of success lies in strengthening the source of leadership. If the source is strong and balanced, a leader can take any challenge in his stride. It is this philosophy of leadership which the Army now wants to share with citizens at the helm of affairs in various organisations.

In a novel departure from the past practice, the Army has decided to make a recently published book on the subject available in the market through book distributors. Titled “Leadership”, the book, published by the Shimla-based Army Training Command, was compiled to assist Army officers to understand clearly what leadership is, and then develop their full potential for good and effective leadership.

Though the book was created for the emerging leaders of the Army, officers associated with it say its universal appeal and comprehensive canvas hold equal relevance for leaders in all walks of life. It has proved to be a huge success within the Army, with about 5,000 copies being sold within two months of its release.

“Though the Army has brought out a number of books, including glossy coffee-table publications, this is the first manual meant for officers which is being made available for sale to the public,” an officer associated with the project said. Even the circulation of coffee-table books, meant to project various aspects of the Army, has by and large remained restricted to the military establishment. Some periodic journals containing unclassified feature articles by contributors are the only official publications available to civilians.

Lieut-Gen J J Singh, under whose aegis the book was published, states in the preface that the book is a culmination of an indepth research on leadership aspects, which draw inspiration from the rich Indian cultural heritage as well as the modern and progressive outlook of the Army. Inputs for the book have also been provided by over a dozen distinguished Generals.

Nominally priced at Rs 125, the 250-page book is divided into 10 chapters. The first part of the book deals with foundation, functions and potential for leadership. It covers topics such as qualities of character, dealing with people and motivation. The second part deals with higher leadership as applicable to the top brass, including the espirit-de-corps, civil-military relations and principles and experiences of war.



African delegates take tips on 
watershed management
A.S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
A four-member delegation from International Water Management Institute, Africa, currently on a visit to India, says that it hopes to benefit from India’s experience in watershed management works by replicating them in different parts of the Dark Continent.

The delegation consists of Dr Paulos Shaga Dubale, Chairman, SWMnet Steering Committee, International Water Management Institute, Ethiopia, Dr Antony Esilaba, Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, Kenya, Dr Shama Elamin Babiikir Dawelbeit, Head of Water Management Research, Sudan, and Prof Nuhu Hemed Hatibu, Regional Coordinator, SWM net, Tanzania. The visit has been sponsored by the Department of Agricultural Research and Education in the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India.

Besides Chandigarh, the delegation will visit New Delhi, Dehru Dun and Hyderabad. While in Chandigarh, the delegation was taken round the integrated watershed management works at nearby Sukhomajri village in Haryana and Mandhala village in Kasauli tehsil of Solan district in Himachal Pradesh by scientists of the Central Soil and Water Conservation Research and Training Institute Research Centre (CSWCR&TI), Chandigarh.

The delegation told the scientists of the CSWCR&TI that the topography in their countries was almost the same as in India. The African continent was facing a growing shortage of water. Most of the countries there were unable to fully exploit underground water resources, mainly due to lack of expertise. The main objective of their visit was, therefore, to see for themselves the techniques being employed here for exploitation of underground water resources and the benefits which the community at large could draw from it. What the delegation saw was, in the words of an African delegate, an “eye opener”.

Dr R.K. Aggarwal, Head, CSWCR&TI, told the visiting delegation that both land and water, being precious natural resources, were very important tools for improving the total way of life of the people. Unless harnessed properly, these not only went unutilised, but also caused severe soil erosion, floods and sedimentation problems.

Before taking up the watershed management projects in the two villages, all these problems were present there. The agricultural holdings in the area were rather small and undulating, causing a serious problem of erosion and giving very poor productivity.

The soil fertility being very poor directly reflected on crop yield. There was need to sustain soil fertility. Crop failure or very low crop yields were common due to lack of irrigation facilities. Thus there was a dire need for rainwater harvesting in suitable reservoirs for supplemental irrigation in the lean period.

“I am very much impressed by the working together of scientists and farmers and I have observed that the farmers have improved their livelihoods. I carry home my impression to change our own farmers in Ethiopia,” recorded Dr Paulos Shaga Dubale, who heads the delegation, in the visitors’ book at CSWCR&TI office here.



11-member team from Pakistan in city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
An 11-member delegation from Government College (University), Lahore, arrived in the city, here today evening. Comprising 9 men and two women teachers, the delegation will be in the city till March 7, meeting people and visiting places.

Promoting harmony and opening up communication channels between India and Pakistan through such exchanges is priority with this team of lecturers on a peace mission who are visiting country for the first time.

In a schedule tightly packed with lunches and dinners being hosted in their honour during their three-day stay in the city, the delegation would use this as an opportunity to interact with people from all walks of life for a feedback on Pakistan.

Invited by the local chapter of the Government College Lahore Old Students Association, the team of teachers is fired with the desire to re-establish their ties with old students of the Lahore College, now in India.

While sight-seeing is high on their agenda during their stay at Punjab Bhavan in Sector 3, the members would visit Panjab University and Government College, Sector 11, tomorrow.

They have also expressed a desire to spend time at Nek Chand’s Rock Garden and the Sukhna Lake, besides wanting to go shopping in the City Beautiful. The delegation visited the Golden Temple at Amritsar and the Beas Dera en route to the city during the day.



PSEB flayed for charging high tariff 
Our Correspondent

Mohali, March 3
The Phase VI Welfare Society has flayed the Punjab State Electricity Board for charging higher tariff on power consumption by residents living on different floors of single dwelling units.

Mr S.S. Bal, president of the society, said the local office had issued heavy bills to residents living on different floors, connections for which had been released before 2001. The consumers had been paying bills at normal rates for the past 30 years.

Mr Bal said the action of the power board office was arbitrary, illegal, unconstitutional as there was no provision to club dwelling units in buildings approved by PUDA. The board had issued instructions in 1999 not to insist domestic and commercial consumers for clubbing of connections.

He said that a circular No 13/01 issued by the power board said that it had been decided to release more than one connection in the same premises subject to certain conditions. One of the conditions said that more than one connection could be released provided the consumer agreed to pay tariff at the highest slab rate for all metered connections.

He said that the clause relating to highest tariff slab had been withdrawn on connections released after 2001 after representations were made by various consumers in this regard. The consumers, however, were asked to comply to other conditions laid by the board. The condition of the board asking family members living on different floors to prepare a separate partition deed was not proper as it would make the old parents live at the mercy of their children. children. This would also lead to family disputes.



Mention violations of rights in ACR: Verma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
The Punjab Governor and Administrator, Union Territory, Chandigarh, Justice O.P. Verma (retd), has suggested to the Chandigarh Administration to mention the human rights violations, if any, of a police officer in his or her annual confidential report (ACR).

Any violation in the human rights reported during the reported year would be a discounting factor in the annual confidential report.

Speaking after inaugurating the website of the Punjab State Human Rights Commission here yesterday, Justice Verma said that the Punjab Government as well as the UT Administration had been impressing upon all civil servants, including police officials, to protect the human rights of individuals and respect the dignity of every human being.



Readers Write
A bird in distress trusts

It was an exceptionally good deed to have rescued a Barn Owl in distress. The expression on the faces of onlookers was of seeing something new rather than of concern per se for the stricken bird. The most commonly seen owl in and around Chandigarh is the Spotted Owlet which is a shade smaller than a Myna. It is natural, therefore, that the presence of a Barn Owl aroused so much curiosity and admiration as well. But the onlookers had no idea that by crowding the bird they were accelerating his trauma. The photograph shows it all; bewilderment on the face of the bird and his claws clenched under extreme inner tension.

There are 32 species of the owl in India, the largest being 63 cm and the smallest a mere 15 cm. Some of them have commanding and haughty appearance, penetrating eyes but essentially all of them are elegant, even handsome and totally harmless. In nature’s scheme of checks and balances, owls help keep the population of rodents in acceptable numbers failing which the net output from our green revolution would diminish considerably. Today, seven of our owl species are threatened with extinction. Both from the aesthetic and economic aspects all owls deserve our compassion.

Most owls are nocturnal and their plumage so coloured and patterned, making them inconspicuous by day. Because they are seldom seen, they are poorly known and understood. They have evolved as night hunters having exceptionally acute hearing and night vision. And their dense, soft plumage renders them noiseless phantoms in flight.

They all nest in unlined natural cavities in tree trunks, rocks and masonry except three species of the eagle owl who nest on open ledges or on ground.

When a wild bird is in acute distress he generally trusts human intervention. This is where we need to exercise utmost care:

a) Do not mob the bird. Approach him individually and handle him with a firm but gentle grip.

b) Administer a few drops of cold water using a dropper or by squeezing a cotton-swab into his beak. Most birds which are traumatised will regain their faculties and self-confidence immediately.

c) If need be, use the facility of People for Animals or any vet clinic. But do not reintroduce the bird in the wild in haste, not till it regains all its faculties fully.

d) Place the needy bird in a cage or a card-board box (with a few perforations for fresh air) and secure the cage from cats, dogs and human interference. Clean the cage daily.

e) Do not expose nocturnal birds such as this Barn Owl to sunlight as it will damage their retina and impair their night vision, without which they cannot hunt food and they will perish. So cover the cage with a cloth and place it under shade.

f) And lastly, please do not make the rescued bird an object of public display as that will magnify his trauma much more than lack of medical aid or food and may even prove fatal.

Lt-Gen Baljit Singh, Chandigarh

City cable katha

Your correspondent Poonam Batth deserves appreciation for her exhaustive report “City Cable Katha....”, (Chandigarh Tribune dated February 26, 2004 ) in which she has aptly highlighted the plight of hapless subscribers who are at the mercy of cable operators. In most of the cities/towns, the cable operators divide amongst themselves the localities and the subscriber has no alternate except to bow to the dictates of the cable operator of the area. The broadcasters and the local MSOs who provide signals to the cable operators, too, have supported them in creating a situation where the competition in their trade is avoided. For instance, in Mohali when a cable operator did not increase the rates, the broadcasters stopped providing signals to him.

Though now the administration is said to be trying to solve the problem of over-charging, it is doubtful if any tangible solution would be found. The Administration has no control over broadcasters who arbitrarily hike the rates at the national level. Outwardly the local cable operators may express their helplessness in the matter, but they are hand in glove with the distributors who lend full support in establishing their monopoly in the trade. This is the reason that in the city of Chandigarh with about 1.75 lakh homes having cable connections, there are only two MSOs who call the shots. With monthly subscription per connection being Rs 250 to 350, their income could easily be calculated. With money and muscle at their disposal, they succeed in creating their clout in Administration and also secure political partronage. Though the so called gripping serials churned out by these pay channels are ridiculous and mostly thrive on themes woven around extra-marital affairs or ludicrous family dramas, yet people watch them intently. Their addiction is, thus, exploited to the hilt.

Still there is a ray of hope for the subscribers provided they are prepared to shed their addiction to the pay channels and opt for ‘‘Free to Air’’ package which costs not more than Rs 72 per month. This package of about 40 channels at such a minimal cost also satiates the basic requirements of providing news, religious discourses, movies and also contain enough entertainment. Here, however, the problem is that those cable operators who provide only ‘‘Free to Air’’ are faced with several problems like disruption of their cable wires and high ground rent for erecting their poles. Therefore, the local Administration should allow only those MSOs and cable operators to function who also agree to provide ‘‘Free to air’’ channels so that the subscriber has the option to chose between the two.

Surinder Sood, Chandigarh

Time to save the lake

The basic problem of Sukhna lake is that its input of silt is much greater than its output. A grim battle has been fought for over 20 years for increasing the latter by annually desilting the lake with draglines and shramdan but it has not been possible to check the rising of its bed. The lake has lost nearly two-thirds of its water-holding capacity. In 2003, the existing level of its exit regulator was raised by two feet. This obstruction is likely to accelerate its rate of silting.

A careful study of lake’s infrastructure reveals that it is possible to draw up a practical and comprehensive scheme costing not more than Rs 40 lakh. The lake water will be relieved of its heavy silt by making it move with a slow velocity in about 1 km length of a channel. It’s balance light silt will be removed with the help of specially designed filtering galleries. A working model of the scheme can be constructed on the lake for convincing the public and experts that this is the only foolproof scheme which can prevent the lake from extinction and hence needs to be executed before the next monsoon.

The time to act for saving this lake is now or never.

S.P. Malhotra, Panchkula

240 teaching days

I want to draw the attention of PU authorities regarding a news item ‘PU finalises 240 teaching days” in your newspaper. A target of 240 teaching days ( 200 teaching + 40 exam days) cannot be achieved by the said proposals. I propose the following suggestions for maximum number of teaching days in colleges/universities.

(1) Number of holidays in the institutions can be curtailed by a legislation. Each institution may be asked to observe 12 restricted holidays and three national holidays. Twelve restricted holidays may be implemented by the Deputy Commissioner of the district, keeping in view the demands of the area.

(2) There is no need for September holidays. The plea that supplementary exams are to be held in these holidays is totally absurd as less than 50 students appear on each day. Such exams can be held in one room/hall without disturbing whole of the college.

By implementing these suggestions effective teaching days will increase.


Pulse polio... time to change strategy

After more than eight years of starting of the pulse polio-immunisation programme, we are nowhere near the goal of eradication of the dreaded diseases, polio. The programme which started with much fanfare and enthusiasm, has reached a blind end. The callous attitude of the people coupled with complacency of the health personnel is responsible for such a sorry state of this programme. I have a suggestion for the government. It should give more teeth to the personnel working in this programme. The help of the Army and police should be taken. The defaulter who fails to get his/her child immunised should be severely punished. The gram panchayats should be made accountable. Only punishment can do the trick in this indifferent society, which is wreaking havoc on the coming generation by not getting their children immunised. Last but not the least, the monetary incentives to the health personnel and volunteers should be withdrawn. Let us all make it a national movement.


Schools lowering education standards

Today in the absence of any check, specified norms and regulations for schools, the menace of schooling business in the state of Punjab is booming. These schools are lacking a congenial environment, good facilities and prior knowledge about educating soft-minded children for giving them perfect start. Besides, they are becoming active exploitation centres for the staff and are damaging the image of social welfare status of India.

A so-called English medium primary school in the outskirts of Banur town lacks all proper infrastructure like a good school building, a good administrator and hygienic conditions. The school has no playway resources. Some rooms have no windows and doors. Children bear the chilly winter and sweat out in the hot summers. Not only this, these small kids, including the staff, once in a month after the school are forced to sit till the evening for their religious congregation in the open, irrespective of weather conditions. Any absentee child faces harsh punishment and absentee staff member lose salary for that day despite giving full classes.

They have their own rules and norms, besides violating orders of the government for closure on national holidays/festivals like October 2, August 15, Holi, Dasehra, etc. Recently, the children did not get any break on January 27 even after a week-long rehearsal for Republic Day.

Parminder Singh, Zirakpur



DC tells NGOs to hone skills of rural workers
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 3
The Deputy Commissioner, Ms Satwanti Ahlawat, today urged non-government organisations (NGOs) to make concerted efforts for the upliftment of those living below the poverty line.

Inaugurating the exhibition-cum-sale organised by the District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) here, Ms Ahlawat also urged the social organisation to hone the skills of the rural workers so that they could compete in the open market. The sale had been put by various self- help groups and artisans under the banner of the Sampuran Gramin Svarojgar Yojana and the Swaran Jayanti Savrojgar Yojana.

The ADC, Ms Neelam Pradeep Kasni, said the main aim of the DRDA was to create self-help groups for the upliftment of the families below poverty line. The DRDA had constituted 210 self-help groups and disbursed loan to 79 groups.

A variety of items such as toys, clothes and eatable items were on display the exhibition.



Spring Fest from March 13
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 3
The Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) will organise the 18th “Spring Fest” on March 13 and 14 at Town Park in Sector 5 here.

According to official sources, flower competitions and cultural programmes will be organised on the occasion. There will be six classes and 91 sections in the flower competitions.

Cultural programmes by renowned artistes of the region and the schoolchildren rangoli, painting, mehandi, fancy dress, solo dance, mono acting and health baby contest would be special attractions of the show, the sources added.



Two hurt in road mishap
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 3
Two persons were seriously injured last night when the Tata Sierra car they were travelling in was hit by a vehicle coming from the opposite direction near the PCA Stadium. The injured have been identified as Balbir Singh and Bunny. They were rushed to the Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, Chandigarh. The police said the driver of the vehicle had sped away after the mishap.



5 arrested in embezzlement case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
Four non-judicial employees of the superintendent rank and a former employee of the Punjab and Haryana High Court were arrested today in connection with the alleged embezzlement in the furnishing of the official residence of former Chief Justice V.M. Ramaswamy.

They were remaneded in judicial custody after a local court rejected their bail applications.

Serving employees of the court Sat Swarup Dogra, Satinder Singh Bajwa (who is also an office-bearer of the employees union), Raminder Khanna and Balwinder Singh Pandher and a former employee Bhola Nath Vohra were arrested.

They were charged with ‘disappearance’ of Rs 3.29 lakh worth of furnishing materials from the house of the then Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court V.M. Ramaswamy in 1988-1989. Justice Ramaswamy was later elevated to the Supreme Court and had faced an impeachment motion in Parliament. However, the impeachment motion had fallen.

A case was registered in this connection on October 11,1990, and these employees got an anticipatory bail after a month.

The police had ‘marked’ the case as untraced in 1992 but it was reopened on the direction of the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on October 10, 2003.

The case was handed over to the Crime Branch which filed the chargesheet in the case in February. The case was closed in 1992 as the files related to the case had been sent to the Supreme Court.

The police could not find the purchase report of the furnishing material, including the carpet, air-conditioner and other things and the case did not proceed further.



Priest arrested for killing complainant
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
Jaidev Giri, the priest of Dronacharya Temple in Maloya who has been accused of killing his complainant, Achhe Lal, was today arrested by the Chandigarh police after day-long raids across the city.

Vijay Kumar, son of Achhe Lal whose body was found from Dana Mandi yesterday, had alleged that the priest had killed his father.

The police, however, did not mention details of the raids.

The priest had been released on bail after he was arrested in connection with the rape of minor daughter of Achhe Lal. The girl gave birth to a girl child after she was sent to Nari Niketan.

The priest will be produced before the court tomorrow. He however, has denied his involvement in Achhe Lal’s murder.

Meanwhile, the post-mortem examination of Achhe Lal’s body has been conducted but the report has been withheld till viscera examination is done.

According to police sources, there were marks of the body having been dragged at the place where the body was found.



Two youths held on rape charge
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
Ravinder and Shiv Nath, both from Uttar Pradesh, have been arrested on the charge of raping a 12-year-old girl, a resident of Mauli complex, for almost a month. The girl went missing from her house on January 19. Later, it was found that two youths known to the girl’s family, had also mysteriously fled from their houses.

The girl came back on February 18 and told her parents that she had been abducted by the youths, who had raped her during the period.

The youths have been remanded in judicial custody.

YOUTH HELD : A youth was today arrested minutes after he stole car from house No. 3300 in Sector 15D. Twenty-year-old Gauravdeep Singh from Narwana allegedly stole the car around 2.30 am. Woken up by the noise, the owners informed the police immediately. The police soon blocked all exit points of the sector and arrested the thief. He has been remanded in police custody till March 8. The stolen car was also recovered. 



Abducted sisters rescued
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 3
The police today rescued two sisters, who were allegedly abducted by Satpal, alias Raju, from here last night.
The sisters, aged 4 and 5 years, were rescued from a house at Kishangarh in Chandigarh.


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