C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


 

Today onwards, 8-hour power cut in Panchkula
Tribune News Service

Powerless for 16 hours

Hundreds of residents of Sector 12 here had to bear the heat for 16 hours today. Following a technical snag in a transformer in this sector, the power supply was disrupted about 2 am. Residents complained to the authorities and four men were rushed to the spot. The transformer was damaged and needed to be replaced. Two transformers were brought in, but somehow could not be installed. A third transformer was then brought and installed. The supply was restored only at 6 pm.

Panchkula, July 26
Beginning tomorrow, the town will face the worst-ever power crisis. While the residents will have to cope with power cut for eight hours, the industry will have a compulsory holiday on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Following the power regulatory measures being introduced all over the state, the Superintending Engineer, Haryana Vidyut Prasaran Nigam (HVPN), has announced the proposed austerity measures for Panchkula. Other than the fact that all industrial units will now observe two days off in a week, Bharat Electrical Limited has been asked to close down for the next one week. It is the only industrial unit that has a load of over 1 MW and, as per the directions of the HVPN, will have to be shut down, say officials. The industrial feeder is already being switched off for 10 hours in the night.

The residents will have to make do without power from 6 am to 12 noon and then again from 5 pm to 7 pm. Street lights will be switched off for the next one week and a complete ban on the ostentatious use of electricity (display lights used by various commercial set-ups, neon signs, etc) has been imposed. The Labour Department has been asked to ensure that shopping hours are adhered to and all markets close down by 8 pm.

Power cuts in the morning and evening will also adversely affect the water supply in the town. Since the water works start at 4.30 in the morning and the supply begins only around 6 am, the power cut will lead to water shortage.

All government offices, including the head offices of various departments and boards and corporations, have been asked to ensure that they do not use air conditioners for the next one week. Officials in the Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam say that they will form special teams to check that the regulations imposed to conserve power and deal with the shortage are dealt with properly.

Officials say that the consumers in the villages of the district will get 10 hours of assured three-phase supply for running their tubewells and two hours of two-phase supply in the evening. 

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Relief for Global Trust Bank depositors
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 26
Long queues in the morning notwithstanding, depositors and the bank staff of Global Trust Bank (GTB) today heaved a sigh of relief following the announcement that the Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC) will take over the bank.

However, panicky depositors thronged the Sector 8 branch of the bank wanting to know the status of their deposits and to withdraw amounts up to Rs 10,000 well before the opening time. In fact, tempers ran high with the bank staff finding it tough to answer the queries of anxious customers.

While the current and saving account holders withdrawing cash up Rs 10,000, the ATM card holders were a harassed lot as the ATM service remained suspended.

As per the three-month moratorium from July 24 to October 23 the depositors could withdraw only amount up to Rs 10,000. They will not be allowed to use the bank’s ATMs for any transaction.

With the TV channels announcing that the OBC had decided to take over the bank, the rush at the counter started thinning in the afternoon. News that the moratorium was likely to be much less than the earlier three months came as a relief to the bank staff and the customers.

Allaying fears of the depositors, the branch head, Mr Sanjeev Kalra, denied that there was panic among customers during even the morning. He informed that an amount of at least Rs 12 lakh was withdrawn by the public today which was normal on a working day. The bank would await instructions from the head office and the RBI on the resumption of the other services like the operations of the ATMs, officials added.

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Kohli may be brought to Mohali today
Tribune News Service

Mohali, July 26
The prime suspect in the rape and murder of British teenager Hannah Foster, Maninderpal Singh Kohli, is likely to be brought to Mohali tomorrow evening or by Wednesday morning. The Punjab Police team comprising SSP, Patiala, Mr A.S. Rai and SP (Detective), Ropar, Mr K.S. Grewal took Maninder Pal Singh in custody in the SDJM’s court at Kalimpong today.

Kohli, along with his parents and brothers, are suspects in a fake passport case registered at Mohali. According to the SP Mohali, Mr Rakesh Agarwal, Kohli will be brought first to the phase VIII police station lock up after which he will be presented in the Kharar courts where the police will seek his custody.

A fake passport that Maninderpal Singh Kohli had procured to escape from India is believed to be the handiwork of a set of shopkeepers based here. According to the FIR dated March 25, 2004, lodged by the former Superintendent of Police, Mohali, Mr Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh, Maninder Pal Singh Kohli had during his 10-day stay in Mohali last year got a fake passport made in the name of one Rohan Mehta.

Kohli had used his contacts in Mohali to get a fake passport made. The job was to cost Kohli Rs 10 lakh but ultimately he paid Rs 2 lakh for it. Interestingly, the person who allegedly made the passport for him, Jaspal Singh, a resident of Phase VII here was later caught by the Chandigarh police in connection with the Burail jail break case and is behind bars now.

The FIR (number 67) has been lodged against Maninderpal Singh Kohli, Jagjit Singh, Amritpal, Ishtpreet, Iqbal Kaur, five unidentified persons and Onkar Singh, a resident of Delhi under Sections 212, 216, 420, 465, 466, 120 of the IPC. The complainant in this case is the former SP himself.

The FIR was lodged on the basis of statements of two shopkeepers Harvinder Pal Singh, alias Binny, of Phase 3B1 here and Paramjit Singh who runs a courier company in Phase 3B2. According to their statement recorded in the FIR, Kohli had taken their help to get a fake passport made so that he could flee the country. And while they allegedly helped Kohli get in touch with the right people, Kohli did not tell them why he wanted a fake identity to get out of the country.

Kohli was arrested on July 15 morning from Pani Tanki in Siliguri subdivision of Darjeeling district near the Indo-Nepal border in North Bengal. Kohli was trying to cross over to Nepal. Kohli, who had left behind his wife and two children in England after allegedly committing the crime and escaped to India, had remarried and was living the life of a social worker.

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No going back on rent order, says UT
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 26
The UT Administration today informed the Punjab and Haryana High Court that it had no intention of withdrawing or amending the notification, dated November 7, 2002. Through this notification the UT Administration had exempted buildings having rent more than Rs 1,500 per month from the operation of the Punjab Urban Rent Restriction Act, 1949, as applicable to Chandigarh.

This was stated during resumed hearing in the petitions filed by the Commercial Tenant Association, Chandigarh, challenging the notification.

On March 11, the court had granted two months’ time to the Administration for reconsidering the matter. The time had been extended for another two months on the application of the Administration on the plea that the Election Commission had imposed code of conduct on account of elections.

Today, just as the hearing began, counsel for UT sought adjournment. However, Senior Advocate Shanti Bhushan, counsel for the petitioners, opposed the adjournment.

He submitted that due to the impugned notification, tenants of the city had been suffering a lot. The lower courts, he stated, are also continuing with the hearing of ejectment suits filed by various landlords.

He said in the event of adjourning the case, the Administration should stay the operation of the impugned notification till the disposal of the writ petitions.

Counsel for the petitioners argued that the Administrator being an executive had totally misused the power conferred on him by the Central Government. He said that the executive could not be permitted to issue any notification under any Act by which the preamble of the legislation is violated.

He also submitted written arguments supported by judgments of the Supreme Court and said the writ petitions deserve to be allowed and the impugned notification struck down for being illegal, arbitrary and without jurisdiction. Advocate Vikas Jain also appeared for the petitioners. Now the hearing has been adjourned till August 2. 

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Return investors’ money, HC tells PGF
Maneesh Chhibber
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 26
In a major setback to the controversial plantation company, PGF Limited, earlier Pearls Green Forests Limited, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has dismissed its petition challenging the order of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) asking it to get registered with SEBI.

It also directed them to refund the money to the public. SEBI had told the company that since it was collecting money and promising high return to investors, mostly through sale and purchase of agriculture land, its activities fell under the Collective Investment Scheme and hence was liable to get registered and comply with SEBI Act.

SEBI had also noted that the contributions made by the investors were pooled and utilised with a view to receiving profits and the property was managed on behalf of the investors by the company over which the investors had no day-to-day control.

Incidentally, one of the founder-promoters of the company was R.K. Syal, the infamous mastermind of Golden Forest India Limited, who is now languishing in Burail Jail, Chandigarh .

PGF had been collecting deposits from public on the assurance that it would more than double the money in five years. Following large number of complaints from across the country, SEBI stepped in and asked the company to get registered.

However, the company moved the Punjab and HaryanIts main claim was that it did not fall under the purview of the Collective Investment Scheme. It, the writ claimed, was only buying and selling agriculture land. It also challenged some sections of the SEBI Act.

However, counsel for SEBI countered this claim.

Advocates Manmohan Lal Sarin and Manish Jain, both of whom appeared for SEBI, said that in view of the large number of complaints, it was the duty of SEBI to act, which it had.

In its order, the Division Bench of Mr Justice J.S. Khehar and Mr Justice Hemant Gupta, while dismissing the petition of PGF, noted that the agreements and sale deeds placed on record by the company were sham and a screen for their real activity.

Holding the SEBI order proper, the Bench gave two months' time to the company to submit the entire record of all transactions, including receipts from public, to SEBI for further action.

The case had assumed significance also because top legal luminaries of the country, including former Law Minister Arun Jaitley, the Solicitor General of India as well as Supreme Court lawyer Abhishekh Manu Singhvi appeared in the High Court. 

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Chandigarh AIR becomes highest revenue earner
A.S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 26
The Chandigarh station of All India Radio has become the highest revenue earning station for AIR in the region, thanks to some aggressive and innovative marketing techniques adopted by the local marketing team.

The local FM station earned a revenue of nearly Rs 62 lakh against the target of Rs 40 lakh during 2003-04. The station earned a revenue of Rs 14 lakh during 2001-02 and Rs 27 lakh during 2002-03. The target for the current financial year has been set at Rs 1.7 crore.

The local FM channel has not only turned into a money spinner for AIR but is also proving to be a catalyst for slowly but surely changing the listening habits of the people of the region by offering them a wholesome, informative and entertaining alternative to the TV. Interestingly, the change in the listening habits is being spurred in no small measure by the growing number of cars and other four-wheelers in the city and the surrounding areas of Mohali, Panchkula, Kalka, Parwanoo, Ropar, Kurali, Kharar, Morinda, Fatehgarh Sahib, Patiala, Rajpura, Ambala, Lalru and other townships.

A view of the radio transmitter tower at the Chandigarh station of All India Radio
A view of the radio transmitter tower at the Chandigarh station of All India Radio. — Tribune photo by Pradeep Tewari

“Almost every four-wheeler is fitted with a car stereo with FM radio these days”, says Mr K. C. Dube, Station Director of the local station of AIR. “People like to listen to high quality music and news while driving to and from work in the mornings and evenings. Hence, the growing listenership of the radio especially from 10.15 a.m. to 12 noon every day. There is a great demand from private programme producers and sponsors for time slots during this period”.

The phone-in programmes aired by the station have also proven to be a great hit. Jamming of phone lines during interactive programmes is common despite the fact that the number of telephone lines have been increased from one to three.

Mr Dube says that in view of the growing popularity of the FM channel, another FM transmission tower is being erected at Kasauli. It is likely to be commissioned by the end of this year. This will greatly increase the range of the radio station. The power of the existing FM transmitter at Chandigarh has also been doubled about a week ago.

The Chandigarh FM programmes are now audible within a radius of 65 km. Steps are also being taken to make the broadcast stereophonic. In recognition of its rapid growth, status of the Chandigarh AIR station has also been raised from “C” grade to “A” grade by the government of India.

Targets and revenue earned by AIR stations in the region during 2003-04:

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Remembering Kargil heroes no longer priority
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 26
Five years after Indian soldiers fought against all odds to evict Pakistani intruders from the icy heights in Kargil, which left 534 troopers dead and another 1,000 permanently maimed, the commemoration of the event no longer figures as a priority.

While the anniversary of the Kargil conflict, code-named Operation Vijay, is being observed by various formations and units which took active part in the operation, no official ceremonies are being organised by the army of state governments, as had been the practice in the past.

It was on this day in 1999 that the operation was formally declared to be over after Pakistani troops vacated areas held by them on the Indian side of the Line of Control.

Officers at Western Command said that the practice of commemorating the anniversary, termed Vijay Divas, throughout the Army has been done away with. This, they said, has been done to avoid multiplicity and duplicity as the Army cannot have a special day for every successful operation.

"The Army will hold only one function to celebrate its victory over Pakistan, that is on December 16, the day Pakistan surrendered during the 1971 war," a senior officer said.

"It is not that we do not want to commemorate victories or forget the sacrifices, but as an organisation, we would observe just one Vijay Divas in December," he added.

Army units who participated in the operations as well as the formations deployed in Kargil, however, observe the day at their own level.

A special function was orgainsied in Dras by 8 Mountain Division, which played a key role in the operations. Earlier, homage-paying ceremonies and other functions were organised every year by the Army in all military stations. The day was also observed by state governments. Last year too, no commemoration function was organised on the orders of the then government, which cited improvements in Indo-Pak bilateral relations as the reason.

In Punjab, for example, a few small-scale functions have been organised this year at a district level to honour soldiers or next of kin of those killed in action, rather than state-level functions.

Political and monetary considerations are stated to be the reason behind this.

The decision has not gone down well with the families of those killed during the operation.

"Kargil was a very unique and difficult victory and it should be observed every year as it was not only a moment of pride for the entire nation but would also serve as a motivation factor for youngsters,"

Prof Harbans Lal, who son Major Sandeep Sagar had lost his life during the conflict, said. "If the commemoration has been stopped owing to political factors, it is very shameful and we can only shed tears over it," he added.

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Chandigarh Calling

Photo by  Manoj MahajanSeveral residents have alleged that demolitions carried out by the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) are discriminatory. While one flat owner may face the bulldozer and fine, his neighbour with a similar or more blatant violation may be let off. All powers wrest with the CHB.

At least two residents have approached The Tribune, alleging partisan behaviour. In 323/2, Sector 45-A, a small projection was brought down by a CHB team (see picture). When the residents protested that all their neighbours had constructed such projections, they were told to mind their business.

In Sector 40-C, residents are sore that certain flat owners have been carrying on unauthorised construction even as the CHB enforcement staff makes an inspection of the area on a regular basis. Residents have alleged that this is being done in connivance with low-rung the CHB staff.

Stinking park

Morning walkers to the park between Sector 20-A and 20-B are up in arms against the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh(MCC) for its decision to remove a dustbin from near the park. With the dustbin no longer in place, the area stinks, putting off the morning walkers. Scattered garbage has become an eyesore for the visitors. Stray cattle feast on the garbage, making things worse.

Residents have demanded that the garbage dump should be shifted from the area as it gives an ugly look to the park. If that is not done, a dustbin should be placed so that the garbage is not scattered, they have said.

AIDS awareness

Forty women jail inmates participated in a ‘Target intervention project for jail inmates’ last week on HIV and AIDS awareness. The Indian Council of Social Welfare, Chandigarh, along with the State AIDS Control Society, UT, organised the camp. The NGO adviser, Mrs Saryu, informed the participants about the spreading of the disease and its prevention.

Dr Rajiv Wadhera of General Hospital, Sector 16, addressed the question-answer session, where the inmates sought information about the disease. The camp concluded with a video show highlighting the causes of spread of the disease.

Laugh off ills

Dr Madan Kataria of the laughter club movement in India and president of Laughter Clubs International, during his recent visit to the city, recommended laughter as a cure for all ills. During sessions at Fragrance Garden in Sector 36, he made the happy laugh and the grumpy smiles.

He advised people against indulging in backbiting. He added that laughing sessions should be held in groups every morning for a great day.

Whither youth?

At a function to observe the second death anniversary of former Vice-President of India, Krishan Kant, there were hardly any youngsters among the 100-odd persons present to pay floral tributes to him or remember his works and life. The average age of the audience was above 65. While many youngsters were present at the venue, Lajpat Rai Bhavan, Sector 15, since an exhibition was in progress, they chose stay away from deliberations.

Study group

Prof Ravindra Kumar, coordinator, Centre of Advanced Study in Geology, Panjab University, has been nominated to the Indian working group to study monsoon evolution and tectonics-climate linkage in Asia. The five-member group was constituted by the Director-General, Geological Survey of India (GSI), Kolkata. Two experts of the GSI, Nagpur, one from Utkal University, Bhubaneswar, and one from the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, are members of the group from India.

The study, International Geological Correlation Programme, is funded by UNESCO and the International Union of Geological Sciences. Similar groups have been constituted by other Asian countries.

Power wastage

A lot of noise is being made over the power crisis in the region. Stringent power saving measures are being taken at all levels. While the common man has to bear long power cuts and in some states, office timings have been curtailed, orders have been issued to close business establishments early. It was a surprise to see streetlights on in broad daylight in Panchkula on Monday. These lights were in front of the electricity office in the township. Efforts of a concerned Sentinel to bring this to the notice of the personnel at the electricity office went in vain and the wastage of power continued for several hours. It is high time that the authorities practised what they preached.

Monsoon woes

The failure of the monsoon has led to a fall in the sale of umbrellas, raincoats and items regarded indispensable during the rainy season.

Mr Pardeep Kumar, owning a shop in Sector 19, says, “I bought items worth Rs 6,000 in June, but till now, I have been able to sell only items worth Rs 1,500.”

Many others face the same situation. Mr Ram Swaroop, running an auto workshop in Industrial Area, says this time, only 11 cars came to him for rain protection treatment, less than one-third of the cars last year.

Those in the business of desert coolers and air-conditioners are recording huge sales. Mr Rajan Gupta of Sector 22 says, “This time, almost all my desert coolers and air-conditioners have been sold quickly and I have already placed my second lot of orders.”

— Sentinel

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Villagers protest against land acquisition
Tribune News Service

Mohali, July 26
Over 1200 land owners of villages in Chandigarh’s periphery today staged a major protest at Dasehra Ground, Phase VIII, here against the acquisition of their land by the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA). While many prominent leaders of the Congress addressed the protesting farmers, leaders of various kisan unions in the state also reached the venue to assure them of their support. The protesters later gheraoed the PUDA office building and the police had to stop traffic on the Phase VIII road opposite the building for over an hour to allow the protesters’ access to the road.

Interspersed with slogans against PUDA and the present Secretary, Housing Urban Development and Planning, Mr K.B.S. Sidhu, the protesters led by members of the Kisan Hit Bachao Committee (Periphery Area) today warned the government that since their peaceful agitation had had no effect, the farmers would resort to violent means.

The protesters are demanding cancellation of the notification issued by the government with respect to acquisition of hundreds of acres in 10 villages of Mohali in order to carve out new sectors. According to the PUDA notification, over 170 acres will be acquired in Sohana village another 209 acres in Lakhnaur, 21 acres in Landran, 124 acres in Bermpur and 162 acres in Manak Majra and hundreds of acres in five other villages, including Sohana, Mauli Baidwan, Raipur Khurd, Killa, Manouli.

The protesters have asked PUDA to acquire land in accordance with a ‘pooling-in scheme’ being followed in some other states in India. Instead of the monetary compensation that is granted to the landowners by the government, these landowners are demanding a part of the developed land in proportion to the size of the land acquired. On June 9, the Punjab Government had formed a six member committee to look into the problem of the villagers.

Addressing the farmers Mrs Lakhvinder Kaur Garcha, OSD to the Punjab Chief Minister, said she had voiced the demands at higher echelons of power and she would stand by the protesters till they got their due. She added that the present Chief Minister had shown to the world that he was in favour of all policies that helped Punjab’s agriculturists. “His stand on the SYL issue proved that he had the welfare of the farmer community in mind,” she said. Rabi Bairamopuri, famous folk singer sang a song to encourage the farmers. 

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Drought-triggered migrant influx raises crime spectre
Sanjay Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 26
With drought in sight, the fear of an increased influx of people in the city is causing concern regarding its possible impact on the crime situation.
The Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Mr Gaurav Yadav, today issued a note to the Station House Officers (SHO) of the city to find out if there has been any co-relation between drought and the crime graph in the city.

The note has been issued to prepare the Chandigarh Police for a situation in which migrants could lead to a rise in crime in the city. If there is a co-relation, the police could devise a strategy for tackling such a situation, Mr Yadav told Chandigarh Tribune today.

In the year 2002, when rain was deficient in the region, there was a general rise in crime. The police does not have any reliable data of 1987, when there was a severe drought. It has never done any survey on such a situation earlier. However, a relationship between rise in crime and influx of migrants in 2002 could not be found as former IGP B. S. Bassi had then directed the police to be liberal in registering cases, which had led to a picture in which the crime rate seemed to be high. The present IGP, Mr Rajesh Kumar, was asking his officers to have a professional approach on policing, Mr Yadav said.

A sudden heavy influx was likely to put pressure on the infrastructure and civic amenities in the city and shortages might lead to social tensions and a rise in crime.

Migrants could destabilise the already employed unskilled labourers and result in a fall in their wages.

Unplanned housing in colonies could lead to rise in rents and that could heighten tension in the city.

Immoral trafficking, thefts and burglaries could increase as the unemployed poor may not any other recourse, experts fear.

As of now, the police is confident that the situation would not deteriorate as the city has already been absorbing between 15,000 and 20,000 persons every year. Its assessment is that the demand for labour is higher than the supply in the city.

The police feels that 80 per cent of the migrant population in the colonies is “fixed” and only 20 per cent keeps changing places. In a drought situation, relatives of the already settled migrants could come into the city.

A former chief of the Intelligence Bureau of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal and UT, Mr H. S. Virk, said chances of rise in crime were high during a drought, so the police must conduct an extensive survey to find out what its impact could be on the city’s law and order situation.

Mr Yadav said the police had recently started an exercise to give colony inhabitants an opportunity to express their anxieties and frustrations, which otherwise could lead to crime. The police was holding meetings with them in colonies.

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Police questions Punjab Recorders MD
Tribune News Service

Mohali, July 26
The Mohali police today questioned Varinder Singh, Managing Director of Punjab Recorders (PRL) Limited here, as part of investigations into the missing components used in the manufacture of battle tanks for the defence services. A team of police officers led by the Phase VIII SHO Mr Jagjit Singh visited the company’s premises today to look for clues. The various employees of the company were interrogated.

The police still seemed clueless as to what took place in the factory. “We are not sure if a theft occurred or not. We have questioned some employees, but have not reached any conclusions,” admitted Mr Rakesh Agarwal, SP, Mohali. Asked if he would want some better-equipped agency to investigate the matter, Mr Agarwal said he had not been contacted by any government agency to look into the matter.

Meanwhile, sources in the police said the two security guards on duty on the night of the reported theft had been thrown out. A police team today visited the security company that was providing these guards to PRL and questioned the various men employed at PRL on contract.

Sources pointed out that all was not well with the company’s functioning. In 1994-1995, an employee of the company was caught red-handed selling some of the company’s equipment as scrap.

In June, 2001, The Tribune had, in a report, pointed out to the possibility of the PRL here compromising with the nation’s security while supplying vital equipment to defence establishments.

Investigations by The Tribune had revealed that a consignment of a vital equipment used in T-72 tanks and the Main Battle Tank (MBT) was substandard. This fact was, however, denied by Mr Varinder Singh. A team from the Department of Defence Production and Supplies had reportedly visited the company premises in Industrial Area, Phase 8, here in February, 2001, and sealed a lot of about 50 pieces of hatch traverse mechanism, valued at Rs 18 lakh. The electro-mechanical equipment, said to be vital in moving the turret of a tank, was part of an order of about 250 pieces to be supplied to a defence establishment.

Members of the Punjab Recorders Workers Union here had, in May, 2004, in a letter to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, alleged that the company was supplying substandard components used in the MBTs. The workers had demanded the registration of a criminal case against Mr Varinder Singh.

The members had alleged that these parts were being manufactured using substandard material, adding that rejection reports of various samples were available with the company. They had said a large number of complaints had been lodged in this regard, but no action was taken by the Punjab Government on the issue.

The internal audit report of the company for 2000-2001 had noted that the affairs of the company were being run in an ad hoc manner. Unsigned vouchers had been entered in the books of accounts. Every irregularity, when detected, was termed as an ‘adjustment’ on account of expenses incurred for defence inspectors. Several other grave irregularities had been pointed out in the audit report.

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Partial compliance of order on use of ACs
Tribune News Service

Mohali, July 26
Punjab Government offices based in Mohali showed partial compliance with the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) orders banning the use of air conditioners in offices. The electricity board had banned the use of air conditioners in offices with effect from today due to extreme power shortage being faced by the state.

With power supply playing truant during working hours today, the PSEB orders had little meaning as there was no electricity.

Orders or no orders, the Mohali Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) had nothing to worry about. I do not have an air conditioner in my room, said Mr M.L. Sharma.

According to government rules, no officer below the rank of Secretary is entitled to have an air conditioner either in his office or in his car. But everywhere around we see the rule being flouted, he added. Other than the Chief Administrator, Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA), no other officer in Mohali whether an IAS or a PCS officer, can have an air conditioner in his room, he said.

At PUDA’s office in Phase VIII, the compliance of the PSEB orders was complete. Since the building is centrally air conditioned, the AC plant was not started in the morning, reportedly on the orders of the Chief Administrator, Mr A.S. Chattwal. Most officers had fans running on other floors.

At the Punjab School Education Board’s office in Phase VIII, when the Tribune team visited the office, all ACs were found to be switched off but the team was informed by the employees that it was due to the fact that there was no power. Power supply to some blocks was restored with the help of a generator. “We have issued an office circular that all employees have to use electricity sparingly. I have personally gone around the building and pointed out to the employees if fans and tubelights are on when not required. It will take a few days to change bad habits, but we will be able to do it,” said Mr Mahinder Bir Singh, secretary of the board. While Mr Mahinder Bir Singh himself was working without an AC, with a fan running and open windows, a large number of fans were found to be running unnecessarily in the board’s building.

Meanwhile, through fresh orders, all shops and other commercial establishments have been directed to close by 6 pm with effect from tomorrow. These orders will be strictly enforced. The Punjab State Electricity Board’s operations circle (Mohali) office will remain open from 8 am to 2pm with effect from tomorrow. This was stated by Mr V.K. Mahajan, senior XEN, PSEB, Mohali. Mr Mahajan added that cash collection counter will be open from 8 am to 1pm. 

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American family adopts abandoned girl
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, July 26
She was abandoned by her family to die on roads. But fate had other plans for her. Two-and-a-half years later, the girl has found loving parents and a home in the United States.

Urvashi, a two-and-half -year-old girl staying at the state-run Shishu Greha, has been adopted by an American family. The formalities for the adoption are complete and the girl will soon go to her home in the US.

The baby was rescued by the police in Narnaul in January 2002. She was taken to the Bal Sadan, and later shifted to the Bal Kunj at Chachrauli near Yamunanagar, which has now shifted to Panchkula.

It took almost n year to complete the legal formalities for adoption. After the district authority concerned (Juvenile Welfare Board in Haryana through Bal Kunj) took possession of the child, she was put under the care of the placement agency, Shishu Greha. The police tried to search for her parents while she was at the Shishu Greha, but were unable to trace them. The Shishu Greha then requested the district administration to issue an abandonment certificate to the child, so that she could be given for adoption. The child was finally adopted only on the directions of the court.

Incidentally, Urvashi is the third girl to have been adopted by a family living abroad from the Shishu Greha during this year, informed Mr Varinder, of Shishu Greha, Panchkula.

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Tributes paid to Krishan Kant
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 26
The Haryana Governor, Dr A.R. Kidwai, today called upon the people to play a creative role in solving the problems of illiteracy, disease, poverty and unemployment, which were great hindrances in the way of prosperity and development of the country.

The Governor was speaking at a seminar on “Dialogue with people : relevant initiatives”, organised by the Servants of the People Society at Lala Lajpat Rai Bhavan, Sector 15, here on the occasion of the second death anniversary of Krishan Kant, former Vice-President of India.

Paying tributes to Krishan Kant, the Governor recalled the days when he worked with Krishan Kant and found him a well-wisher of the poor. Dr Kidwai said Krishan Kant endeavoured to establish a constructive dialogue with the people of India through his social, political and patriotic activities.

Dr Kidwai said Krishan Kant, inspired by the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi and Lala Lajpat Rai, worked tirelessly for the empowerment of women, Dalits and down-trodden people of society.

The Governor also advocated the strengthening of the Panchayati Raj institutions for making democracy a success. He emphasised the need for establishment of a dialogue with the people living in the rural and urban areas, struggling and surviving against all kinds of problems, social, political, economical and cultural.

The Governor stressed on removing the evil of illiteracy from society for involving the people in various educational, scientific and technological competitions at the global level. The World Bank also helped a lot in improving the education of the country, but still millions of Indians were illiterate, lamented the Governor. “India would be considered developed only when everybody is literate,” he stated.

The local Member of Parliament, Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, paid homage to Krishan Kant and called him a great nationalist and patriotic leader who worked for upliftment of the poor and the Dalits.

Mr Bansal also stressed on bringing some radical reforms in the electoral system where the rural people could play a vital role. “Today, I understand and can relate to his ideas. He was of the firm opinion that the cost of misgovernance is much more than the cost of election. In the absence of the right kind of candidate, the voter must have the option of choosing the ‘none of the above’ category,” he held.

Speaking about disruption of Parliament by members, Mr Bansal said: “Everybody has the right to express his reservation on any matter but not letting Parliament function is unpardonable,”.

The President of the Servants of the People Society, Mr Onkar Chand, also paid his tributes to Krishan Kant and called him the “spirit behind all activities of their society”. 

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Fauji Beat
Can soldiering and corruption go together?

THE argument often heard these days is that in a corrupt country like ours, if we accept 90 per cent corruption in civil life, why can’t we tolerate even 10 per cent of the menace in the Army. The justification in support of this argument is that the characteristics of an Indian remain the same whether he is in the civil or the Army. This has dangerous portends for the Army.

Unfortunately, several cases of graft in the Army, mostly involving officers, have come to light in the recent past. Some of these were of officers taking bribes from jawans for drafting them on UN missions, the Tehelka scam etc. The lure for money and manoeuvering promotion by hook or crook seems to be the order of the day. Gone are the days when gentlemanliness, honesty and integrity were the hallmarks of an officer.

A corrupt Army cannot remain fighting Army for long. For, the jawans will have no respect for a corrupt commanding officer (CO). And in the absence of respect, their confidence in him will evaporate. He will not only be shy of them but will also be afraid of them as a thief is of the police. He should thank his stars if he is not killed by his jawans in war. Who will stem the rot?

Fire fighting: In memory of 250 fire fighters, who had laid down their lives while fighting fire at the Bombay Dockyard, Air Force station, Bamrauli observed a fire service week recently. The Headquarters Central Air Command and other lodger units organised various fire fighting during the week. A training programme on causes of fire and its prevention was organised. Besides, a fire fighting demonstration was held at the station level.

Personnel of the Civil Fire Services were invited to attend the programme under the mutual aid scheme.

IAF contingent in Congo: On the completion of one year of the Indian Air Force (IAF) contingent as part of a UN operation in Congo, the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal S. Krishnaswamy, released the anniversary first day cover at Palam the other day. The contingent comprising five MI-17 and four MI-25 helicopters, was deployed in Congo in July last year. To protect the assets of the contingent, a rifle company of 10 Garhwal Rifles was also deployed there.

After Congo attained independence from Belgium on June 30, 1960, it continued to remain in turmoil because of the exploitation of its people by foreign commercial elements. So much so that even the army of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) mutinied. The Indian 99 Infantry Brigade Group, under Brig K.A.S. Raja, was promptly deployed there. India had the largest contingent in the UN operation in Congo from 1960 to 1963. Capt Gurbachan Singh Salaia of 3/1 Gorkha Rifles is the only Indian soldier to have won the Param Vir Chakra (PVC) in any UN mission so far. He fell fighting in Congo.

The present UN mission in Congo is the largest ever UN Peace Keeping Operation in terms of both personnel and financial commitment. The high operational standards set by the IAF contingent has made the UN request for its continued deployment in Congo.

— Pritam Bhullar

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Assn demands opening of judicial complex
Our Correspondent

Mohali, July 26
The House Owners’ Welfare Association, Phase I, has demanded that a judicial complex be opened for the public in the old Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) building here.

In a press note issued here, president of the association, Mr P.S. Virdi, said the PUDA had shifted its office to the newly-constructed building in Phase VIII, and the old building was lying vacant. He said if a judicial complex was opened in the old PUDA building, residents of the town who had to go to Kharar and Ropar for judicial matters would be saved of the trouble.

Mr Virdi said there was neither a community centre nor a government primary school in the area. Residents had to go to Phase II or Phase VI for holding social functions. He said that land for a government primary school had been earmarked and its possession had been given to the education department but the building for the school was not being constructed by authorities concerned.

The association condemned the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) for “arbitrarily hiking” the power tariff. It said that instead of hiking the tariff, which was a financial burden on consumers, the PSEB should check the theft of power by removing kundi connections from unauthorised colonies and other places.

Mr Virdi said that water was being supplied at a low pressure in the area. The overhead water tanks were not being filled, he added.

He said that the PUDA had failed to take action against schools running in residential accommodations. Such schools had no fire fighting arrangements, he added.

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Bar wants more cases shifted to CAT
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 26
The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) Bar Association today urged the Union Government to transfer more cases of autonomous organisations and corporations from the courts to CATs for speedy justice.

The newly elected president of the association, Mr H.C. Arora, argued here that transfer of cases of departments such as the BSNL, LIC and PU from high courts to CATs would go a long way in reducing the delay in cases.

The general secretary, Mr Rohit Seth, said besides providing new facilities to visiting advocates the association was planning an expansion of the Bar library.

Meanwhile, Mr Pankaj Mohan Kansal and Mr S.S. Ahlawat have been elected as joint secretary and treasurer, respectively, of the association, according to Mr C.L. Gupta, election commissioner.

The Chandigarh Bench of CAT has a jurisdiction in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Chandigarh.

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Ex-servicemen flay non-registration of servicemen as voters
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 26
Ex-servicemen have sought the intervention of the Election Commission of India to nominate an officer in military and paramilitary units as an assistant electoral returning officer so that service personnel can be registered as voters at their place of posting.

In a letter written to the Election Commission as well as the Adjutant General at Army Headquarters, the city-based All-India Veterans Core Group has pointed out that no survey has been done by the electoral authorities in case of service personnel and nor has the help of the Army authorities been taken even when updated records are available.

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Two women commit suicide
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 26
Two women have committed suicide while two persons have died in accidents and the body of an unidentified beggar has been found in the city. A 30-year-old unidentified woman ended her life by jumping before a train near the Modern Housing Complex, Mani Majra, here today.

The police recovered a note saying, “I am depressed with long illness and ending my life on my own.” She had addressed the note to Mr Vimal Das of AG Colony in Sector 41-D. The General Railway Police sent its team to find out about the person and identify the woman. She was around five feet three inches tall, fair and roundly built.

Twentyfour-year-old Simranjit Kaur of Sector 7 consumed sleeping pills yesterday and died at the Sector 16 General Hospital last night. She was a BCom student and was suspected to be depressed because she did not get marks required to get admission to a BEd course.

In a separate incident, a porter was crushed under a truck in the Sector 26 Grain Market. Somnath (38) was sleeping in an open place in front of shop 106 last night. The police suspected that an unidentified truck, while reversing, ran over him. He is survived by two daughters and a son. The body was handed over to his brother Sohan Singh after postmortem examination.

In another incident, Tej Bahadur of Indira fell off the roof of his house last night. He was brought to the PGI, where he succumbed to his injuries.

In yet another incident, an unidentified body was found near the bus queue shelter near the Rose Garden. There were no marks on the body to suggest that the deceased had been murdered. The police suspected that he was a beggar.

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24-year-old commits suicide
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, July 26
A 24-year-old man, Ram Ashish, committed suicide by hanging himself from an iron pipe running along the ceiling of his house in Abheypur village. The victim’s family found him hanging in the house today and rushed him to the hospital, where he was declared brought dead.

The family members of the victim said he had been married only three months ago. He was working as a carpenter. His father, Jagdish, said he was under a state of depression.

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Minor raped by labourer
Tribune News Service

Mohali, July 26
A 13-year-old girl, a resident of Badh Majra, was allegedly raped here today by a daily wage labourer working at a house construction site in Phase VI.
The incident took place at house number 516, Phase VI. According to the police the victim, daughter of daily wage earner in the village, was walking down the road when she stopped and asked one of the labourers working in the house under construction if there was any work for her. One of the labourers offered to get her work as a cleaning maid in the house. He then took her upstairs and allegedly raped her. He gave her Rs 50 and promised to get her a job worth Rs 300 in the house. He even asked her not to tell any one about what happened.

The victim went back home and told her parents about the incident who then complained to the police. A medical examination was carried out following which a case of rape was registered against the labourer. He had, however, fled the site by the time the police went to arrest him. The police has, however, rounded up the rest of the men working at the site.

SP Mohali, Rakesh Agarwal said a special verification drive of all migrant labourers working at various construction sites in Mohali would be undertaken soon.

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Stabbing incident: complaint against victim
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, July 26
The incident in Sector 6, where a young lawyer was stabbed by the male relatives of his beloved yesterday, took a new turn. The girl’s family has now lodged a complaint with the police against the victim, Ravinder Singh.

The police has also recorded the statement given by the victim at PGI, Chandigarh. He has alleged that he was stabbed by the brother of his beloved, after he was called to her house by her family. The girl’s family objected to their love affair, he said.

It is alleged that the father and brother of the girl asked Ravinder to come and meet them at their residence yesterday. An altercation took place between the two sides, and Ravinder was stabbed. He was rushed to General Hospital, Sector 6, by his friends and later referred to PGI.

The Superintendent of Police, Ms Mamta Singh, has asked the DSP, City, Mr Rajesh Duggal to look into the matter and conduct an inquiry.

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UBI introduces Core Banking Solution
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 26
With a view to providing technology-driven services to customers, Union Bank of India has introduced anywhere and anytime banking service called Core Banking Solution (CBS) at one of its local branches here. The service has also been introduced at the bank’s extension counter at Punjab Mandi Board office in Sector 17. It was inaugurated by secretary of the Punjab Mandi Board, Mr A. Venuprasad.

The bank plans to bring more branches under the CBS umbrella and nearly 700 branches were being targeted to be brought under the network by March 2005. With this, 251 branches across the country have switched over to the CBS network.

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Market pulse
Good response
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 26
The recently introduced Bajaj CT 100 has crossed the 1 lakh sales mark within 81 days of its launch. “We have increased production to meet the demand,” says Mr R.L. Ravichandran, vice-president, Business Development and Marketing.

Conference tables: Godrej’s Formula ‘S’ brand of furniture has launched an 8-seater pre-wired conference table called ‘Sonata’. This range is equipped with wire management facility for data and power cables.

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