C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Six new diarrhoea cases in Panchkula
Scale of problem beats administration’s efforts
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

A resident of Rajiv Colony drinks water from the supply line passing through a nullah, while another removes a dead pig from the nullah after the flood water receded
A resident of Rajiv Colony drinks water from the supply line passing through a nullah, while another removes a dead pig from the nullah after the flood water receded in Panchkula on Tuesday. — Tribune photo by Parvesh Chauhan 

Panchkula, August 10
Six new cases of diarrhoea were reported from Rajiv and Indira colonies here today. Five of those admitted to General Hospital were children. A six-month-old child, Ankit, had died in Rajiv Colony yesterday.

Health authorities deny that there is a diarrhoea epidemic in these slum colonies and claim that the disease does spread during the monsoon each year. However, the insanitary conditions compounded by the recent rain have increased the risk of infection manifold in these areas.

A survey by a Tribune team shows that little effort has been made by the local health authorities to prevent the outbreak of water-borne diseases. The colonies have not been cleaned and slush continues to bog down residents of the hutments and narrow lanes of the colonies. A number of cases of skin infection have also been reported from here. Doctors say that the unhygienic conditions are responsible for this.

Drinking-water supply lines to Rajiv and Indra colonies pass through a sullage-filled nullah. Dead pigs and dogs lie barely five feet from the leaking main water-supply line, raising the risk of water-borne diseases.

Says Sandeep Kumar, president of the Yuva Sangathan, who runs a photo studio in Rajiv Colony, “There was no drinking water supply to the colonies for three days after the flood on August 3. The hutments were submerged in water for two days, and the slush still remains. Now there is an outbreak of diseases, but the administration has done little to help us out.”

Since the 15,000 residents of the two colonies can be a decisive votebank, the authorities had provided them potable drinking water by laying supply lines a few years ago.

Though the water supplied appears to be clean, the rusted and leaking line ensures that dirty nullah water seeps into the supply. “The water line snapped after the rain, but HUDA did not repair it. We found bits and pieces of rubber pipes and fixed the main supply line, and are now getting water from it,” says Jai Singh, a retired Army jawan now settled in Rajiv Colony.

Residents here say though there has been frequent fogging in these colonies and anti-larvae sprays have been made on stagnant water, the efforts of the Health Department are too little for the thousands of residents.

The Civil Surgeon, Dr Satvir Chaudhary, when contacted, said that health camps had been set up in Mauli Jagran and near Hanuman Mandir in Rajiv Colony. “I visited the two slum colonies today to see the initiatives taken by our teams. The problem here is insanitation. Only if the residents themselves observe hygiene can they stop the spread of diseases,” he said.



UT cops beat up boy, parents
Irate residents block traffic
Our correspondent

Passersby blocking traffic on the Chandigarh-Delhi highway, near the Sector 20 Gurdwara, to protest against the high-handedness of the Chandigarh police
Passersby blocking traffic on the Chandigarh-Delhi highway, near the Sector 20 Gurdwara, to protest against the high-handedness of the Chandigarh police in Chandigarh on Tuesday. — A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh, August 10
Irate residents of Sector 20 blocked traffic for over two hours and indulged in stone throwing to protest against the ‘brutal’ beating of a teenaged boy and his parents by the police this afternoon.

According to eye witnesses, a police vehicle stopped the teenager near the Sector 20 roundabout. He was dragged out and beaten up. When his parents tried to intervene, they were also thrashed.

It is learnt that Amit Suri, a resident of Burail, was allegedly driving his Indica car in a rash manner near Sector 26. The policemen on duty signalled him to stop but the boy panicked and tried to speed away. An ‘interceptor’ vehicle gave chase and caught up with him in Sector 20.

He was reportedly dragged out of the car, allegedly stripped, laid out on the road and was beaten black and blue. There were visible signs of injuries on his back.

When the parents of the boy arrived on the spot, they tried to prevent the cops from beating their son. Alka, the mother of the boy, alleged that the police pulled her hair and also beaten her with sticks. Mr Kamaljit Suri, the father of the boy, also received injuries.

An eyewitness said that the cops kicked them mercilessly as the son and his mother were lying on the road.

Other witnesses claimed that the police kicked the boy and also thrashed him with their belts. The police also beat his mother with sticks.

As the public beating continued, residents and passers by gathered and reacted angrily and held up traffic. They shouted slogans and demanded action against the erring policemen.

The police tried to control the situation forcefully but it resulted in the crowd getting enraged. It pelted stones on the police party. The police had to resort to a mild cane charge to disperse the mob.

On the other hand, inspector, traffic police, Mr Shivraj Sidhu, claimed that when the teenager was intercepted, he, in an attempt to run away, assaulted a woman police officer, Mrs Punam Dillawari. He had also pushed her roughly, he added.

According to the SHO, Sector 34, Mr Ajaib Singh, the police has registered a case under Sections 332, 353 and 279 against Amit Suri, his father Kamaljit Suri and his mother Alka Suri on a complaint filed by Sub Inspector Punam Dillawari, at the Sector 34 police station. He further said the case was filed on the basis of preliminary investigation that the trio had beaten up SI Punam Dillwari and had torn the uniform of the other two police officers.



Notification hikes property prices in Zirakpur
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, August 10
A day after the Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) notified the formation of an Urban Estate in the vicinity of the Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat, property prices have started to rise. On the first day itself, they rose by about 10 per cent.

The PUDA decision, it is claimed, will effect approved colonisers the most who have wanting planned development of residential and commercial property around Chandigarh. The decision would also check haphazard growth of unauthorised colonies in the area.

Mr Sunil Banda, general manager of a housing colony in Zirakpur, said the PUDA had taken a good step at an appropriate time by deciding to develop an urban estate here. With the development of the urban estate, colonisers will have to provide facilities to their buyers on a par with those being provided by the PUDA.

“People from the villages who are unable to buy houses and flats in Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula will benefit the most as they can now have a house on much cheaper rates in the estate”, Mr Bhupinder Singh Saini, a Dera Bassi-based coloniser, said.

Mr Krishan Pal Sharma, a resident of Mubarikpur village, said the land prices of the villages adjacent to Singhpura, Ramgarh Bhudda and Nagla villages, which have been merged to form the urban estate, have also witnessed a sharp increase. 



No change in dimension of Tibetan lake: Army
Tribune News Service

Major-General, General Staff, Western Command, Mr R.S. Gill shows the areas under threat following the creation of an artificial lake in Tibet which could lead to flash floods in Satluj
Major-General, General Staff, Western Command, Mr R.S. Gill shows the areas under threat following the creation of an artificial lake in Tibet which could lead to flash floods in Satluj, at Chandimandir on Tuesday. — PTI photo

Chandigarh, August 10
While allaying fears of large-scale floods in Himachal Pradesh and Punjab on account of an artificial lake being formed in Tibet, the Army today stated that there had been little change in the dimensions of the lake since July 21 and only about a 100-km stretch along the Sutlej would see rise in water levels.

A satellite image taken by IRS-P6 on July 21 showed the surface area of the lake, formed on River Pare Chhu to be around 137 hectares. Another image taken on August 6 by Radarsat showed the spindle-shaped lake to have acquired a surface area of 150 hectares, with it being 1,900 metres long and 900 metres at its widest point. There is, however, no indication of its depth. China had claimed that the lake, formed due to land slides following heavy rains, is over 6 km long and 2 km wide.

"If we perceive the lake to be 75 metres deep, it could hold around 130 million cubic meters (MCM) of water," Major-Gen R S Gill, Major- General, General Staff, Western Command, said. "The water level at the Bhakra reservoir, which has a capacity of 9,000 MCM, is presently 80 feet below normal and it can easily accommodate the discharge," he added.

General Gill said that the threat of floods was limited to a stretch of about 100 km along the course of the Pare Chhu-Spiti--Sutlej river from Lepcha, the point where Pare Chhu enters India from Tibet. The river flows into the Spiti near Khab, which in turn merges into the Sutlej near Sumdo. Bhakra is about 350 km from the point.

He said that using controlled explosions to puncture the walls of the lake to release water had been taken up with the Chinese authorities through the Ministry of External Affairs, but so far no blasts had been carried out. A hotline established between India and China in the Leh Sector had been activated to keep each other abreast of the latest situation, but no flag meetings had been held.

Stating that the release of water from the lake would result in the rise of water level in the Sutlej till Karcham in Kinnaur district, General Gill said that so far the flow of water in the rivers was normal. The flow of Pare Chhu was not totally blocked and some water was trickling through the blockages.

About 5,000 people living in 60 villages and settlements scattered along this stretch could be affected and they had been evacuated to safer places. Five bridges on this stretch could also be in danger of being damaged.

General Gill said that the Army was fully prepared to handle any situation which might arise and had positioned five columns and equipment, including bridging and communication equipment, boats, life jackets and medical supplies at strategic places. Facilities in local military medical establishments had been upgraded and additional doctors and specialists had been placed on standby. Army and Air Force helicopters too had been deployed in the area and were carrying out regular aerial reconnaissance.



No flood waters can reach Punjab, Haryana: experts
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

  • The present available storage capacity of the Bhakra dam is about 6000 million cubic metres.
  • The size of the artificial lake in Tibet is 49 million cubic metres as per official estimates.
  • The water cannot come into the plains.
  • Threat is only in Himachal and by no yardstick any threat prevails in Punjab & Haryana.

Chandigarh, August 10
Misinformation has caused a needless scare among people in the plains of Punjab and Haryana about flood waters of the artificial lake formed on Perchu river in Tibet, affecting them. Experts based here said no water from the artificial lake could reach Punjab or Haryana and there was no need to panic for people in the plains as the threat of destruction was only in Himachal Pradesh.

The waters of the artificial lake, if it bursts, will affect areas along the banks of the Sutlej river as the river Perchu is tributary of the Sutlej.

The hurdle for the gushing waters will be at Naptha Jhakri near Rampur. The dam has been sealed and the water will flow through its tunnels. Technically the water should not have an adverse impact on the dam. The next will be massive Gobind Sagar reservoir at the Bhakra Dam.

Yesterday reports had poured in from Patiala how people were in panic over reports of flood. Similar reports have come in from Ludhiana where the Sutlej flows. Engineers explained the waters from the artificial lake could never reach the plains as the Bhakra Dam would take in whatever came down.

The Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) has already said the reservoir of the Bhakra dam had enough capacity to absorb the floods expected from the bursting of the lake which had formed due to a blockade on the Perchu river in Tibet.

The Bhakra reservoir had a total storage capacity of 9621 million cubic metres of which only 33 per cent is filled so far. the size of the artificial lake is much less and is estimated at 49 million cubic metres.

The level of the Bhakra reservoir is around 1555 elevation feet. The reservoir has a capacity to store water up to 1680 elevation feet thus it has empty storage capacity of 125 feet. The Bhakra dam has a reservoir of 140 sq km which is much more than the size of the artificial lake.

Sources in the BBMB said they did even expect a 10 feet rise in the level of the Bhakra Dam due to the expected bursting of the artificial lake in Tibet, what to talk of floods.

In Ropar the district administration had held a meeting as the exist points of water from the Bhakra are in Ropar district. The water is regulated at the Ropar headworks.



Administration to give relief for houses damaged in rain
Tribune News service

Chandigarh, August 10
The Chandigarh Administration today said that it would soon provide relief to the people whose houses were damaged in the rain on August 3.
The Revenue Department is working on a formula prescribed by the Government of India for giving compensation in such cases.

Meanwhile, the Administration today decided to give immediate relief to the victims of the recent floods. A sum of Rs 50,000 has been given to the families of three persons who died in the deluge.

One person had been swept away in the flood while two children, Kamal and Naina, had died when roof of their jhuggi collapsed  in Sector 25.

A sum of Rs 1,000 each was distributed to the families in whose houses water had entered in Kishangarh and Behlana villages. 



Irregular power supply, floods hit industrial production
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 10
The going for the industrialists of the city and the region has not been easy in the wake of irregular power supply, disruption of rail and road traffic due to the fury of floods that lashed parts of neighbouring Punjab and Haryana last week, besides hike in the steel prices.

Though the business houses were hoping to get some relief in terms of power supply following rains, but the floods and closure of Nathpa Jhakri power project caused them yet another setback. A section of the industrialists attribute the increase in the price of raw materials and transportation charges to all these factors put together.

The co-chairman of the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr R.S. Sachdeva, said long power cuts stretching upto two days and for nearly seven hours daily took a toll on the industry, particularly the power intensive and continue process industry. This not only affected the production process but also led to a further increase in the prices of some of the raw materials. Prior to this, the prices had gone up due to a steep hike in the steel prices, a basic raw material for most of the manufacturing units.

He further said that transportation charges of carrying both raw materials and finished goods have also registered a 10-15 per cent increase during the past few days. The disruption of public transport system due to broken roads and damaged rail tracks also spelled better times for private operators, who could dictate their prices for loading of goods and delivery of the same. In fact, some of them charged almost double the transportation fare plus extra charges for loading, said another industrialist.

The transportation charges also went up due to the flow of traffic getting affected on the main routes to Mumbai, via Gujarat and Rajasthan.

Those dealing with export business maintain that bad weather and the floods have led to delay in export consignments, besides upsetting the visit plans of buyers and manufacturers to the region. “ Most of the major business dealings had to be cancelled or postponed due to the fury of floods and the effect it had on the traffic flow,” said Mr Sachdeva. The schedule of manufacturing and deliveries has got affected as the inspection teams have not been able to keep up their dates with their clients. The orders have come to a halt in some cases, thereby causing losses to the units concerned. But the exact losses were still being worked out.

Meanwhile, the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry will be despatching a questionnaire to all member organisations and associations on roll by August 12 to assess the affect of bad weather on the businesses, if any, and whether their manufacturing costs have gone up. They will also spell out the extent of damage in their replies to be sent within 10 days. This will help them work out the extent of total damage and suggest remedial measures to offset them.

The restoration of rail traffic following large-scale repairs and proper loading of raw material will also help put the industry back on rails. Mr I.S. Paul. Managing Director, Drish Shoes Limited, said, “Though there has been no appreciable effect on industry of the havoc caused by rains but the losses caused to the farmers will eventually have a bearing on the industry too. Lesser buying power due to poor crop has a cascading effect on many other things.” Similar views were expressed by Mr Satish Bagrodia, Chairman, Winsome Textile Industries Limited, who said if rail traffic was disrupted on the Ambala-Chandigarh-Kalka section, goods were being transported through trucks and other private modes of conveyance. However, few other factors have given quite a jolt to the industry on various other fronts.



PSEB losing Rs 400 cr in power thefts
Tribune News Service

Mohali, August 10
Power worth Rs 400 crore is being stolen in the state each year. This was stated by the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) Chairman, Mr Y.S. Ratra, here today. “While the board managed to detect power theft worth Rs 170 crore, a large amount remains unaccounted,’’ he added. Mr Ratra was talking to mediapersons after inaugurating the first electricity Bill Payment Machine (BPM) installed in Punjab by the board at its Mohali office.

Stating that board employees have been duly involved in the process of unbundling and corporatisation, Mr Ratra said unbundling of the board was not the same as privatisation. “The unbundling was being done to make the board manageable and service oriented,’’ said Mr Ratra, adding in the present structure the consumer was the board’s last priority.

‘‘The financial restructuring will make it internally efficient. Now, the consumer is paying for the board’s inefficiency. We charge the consumer on a cost-plus basis. That is whatever costs we incur, we charge the consumer accordingly. In the end it is the consumer who is paying for the losses, we incur due to various reasons,’’ the Chairman said.

When asked about the expected increase in consumer tariff rates, Mr Ratra refused to divulge anything. However, he pointed out that while the consumer would have to pay a reasonable tariff, he would be provided better services too. ‘‘Also in the long run, with the private players coming in, tariff could come down due to competition.”

Talking about the bill payment machine that he inaugurated, Mr Ratra said the machine would accept both cheques and cash. ‘‘In order to reduce inconvenience caused due to the consumers, the board started the facility of bill payment through post offices and banks,” he said.

This facility would be available to the consumer round the clock in the long run but currently it is available only from 9 am to 5 pm. He said nine machines would be installed at various places in the state.

The machine looks like an ATM machine and most of its functioning is also the same. In order to pay the bill, the consumer feeds his account number, given on the bill, into the machine. The machine flashes the bill amount on the screen. If the payment is to be made in cash, the consumer slips currency notes of specific denominations into the machine through a slit, making a payment to the closest zero. The machine recognises the currency notes and when the full payment is received, a receipt is issued to the consumer.

Similarly, the machine accepts cheques and issues a receipt through a separate window. The interactive machine works on touch-screen technology and the consumer is directed through the whole transaction. The consumer will also have the option of interacting with the machine in English or Punjabi. Tata Infotech, a Bangalore-based company, installed the machine on a trial basis.



PSEB privatises meter reading, bill distribution
Tribune News Service

Mohali, August 10
The Punjab State Electricity Board has decided to give the twin tasks of meter reading and bill distribution into private hands in Mohali. The contractor who has been assigned the job would start work from September 1.

PSEB sources said tenders for the same had been invited two months ago after which a party had been finalised by the board. The board would pay Rs 10 per connection per month to the private contractor for the two jobs.

Protesting against this move, members of the Electricity Board Employees Union in a memorandum given today to the board Chairman, Mr Y. S. Ratra, said the board would lose over Rs 85,000 every month under this new arrangement.

Stating that there were a total of 23,842 connections in the township, the employee’s leader, Mr Jaikishan said, ‘‘total domestic connections in the township are 22,945, small connections are 818 and streetlight connections number 79. This make a total of 23,842 connections. At the rate of Rs 10 per connection, the board would be paying the private contractor more than Rs 2.38 lakh every month.’’

Comparing these figures to the total of the salaries of those employed by the board to do the job, Mr Jaikishan said the board had nine meter readers who cost the board Rs 90,273 per month and there were seven bill distributors who cost the board Rs 60,010. The total salary for these employees was Rs 1,50,283 per month. Since this amount was less than what the board would pay the contractor, this would lead to a loss of Rs 88,137 per month to the board.

However, sources in the board said the board was facing a shortage of staff since no new employments had been made. The employees who were doing the bill distributing and meter checking duty now would be adjusted on other posts within the office. Sources added that the new arrangement was also expected to bring down instances of power theft taking place in connivance with the board staff.



Home Guards stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, August 10
More than 300 Home Guards from Punjab sat on a dharna at the Matka Chowk here today in support of their demands.
The Punjab Home Guards Welfare Association demanded that their services should be regularised . They also demanded proper allowances. They claimed that as they worked 24 hours they should be given proper treatment.

The president of association, Mr Slam Din, said as they were deployed in Food Corporation of India, godowns, the Punjab Government said 15 per cent to their department but even that was not being paid to them. Pension and other facilities are also among their demands.

The leaders of the association further warned the state government that in case the government did not accept their demands, they would gherao the Minister’s residence. There are about 15,000 Home Guards in the state.



Student hurt in mishap
Tribune News Service

Mohali, August 10
A student of SASIIT here was seriously injured near the Phase 3B2 and Sector 71 dividing road today when his scooter was hit by a Santro car coming from the opposite direction. The injured Talwinder Singh, a second year BCA student, was rushed to the Government Medical College, Sector 32, Chandigarh.

A pedestrian, Meen Prakash, was injured when he was hit by a speeding car in Sector 5 this afternoon. The car driver fled after the accident, and the victim was rushed to hospital. He suffered head injury, but is stated to be in a stable condition.



VHP plea against Bhatti

Chandigarh, August 10
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad(VHP) today moved an application before a local court demanding registration of a case against Jaspal Bhatti for allegedly hurting of religious sentiments of Hindus.

The complaint alleged that during a demonstration by Bhatti’s Nonsense Club in Sector 17 here on July 21 the Hindu “shlokas” and “mantras” were recited in such a way as to hurt religious feelings. In view of the delayed monsoons, the club had burnt the effigy of the Meteorological Department to invoke the rain gods. TNS



SI shoots self, admitted to PGI
Tribune News Service

Mohali, August 10
A Sub-Inspector serving in Chandigarh shot himself “accidentally” with his service revolver at his Phase 11 residence here last night. Mr Lakhmir Singh, posted at the Sector 31 police control room in Chandigarh, is admitted in PGI with a serious wound near his ear, but is said to be out of danger.

According to family members, the incident took place around midnight. Lakhmir Singh had kept his loaded revolver on the top of a cupboard so that it was out of the reach of a two- year-old child in the house, said Lakhmir Singh’s daughter.

According to the police, Lakhmir Singh was getting ready for sleep when he tried to reach an almirah above the cupboard on which the revolver was kept when the trigger got pressed. Lakhmir Singh’s wife was in the bathroom while his son and daughter-in-law were sleeping when the incident occurred.

‘‘My mother heard the gun shot and rushed to the room to find our father lying on the floor in a pool of blood,’’ said Lakhmir Singh’s daughter.

He had hurt himself near the ear and the bullet had passed through the neck, said a police official.



Inspector held on bribe charge
Tribune News Service

Mohali, August 10
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau today arrested Mr Gurmukh Singh, Inspector in charge of anti-goonda staff, Ropar, for allegedly taking a bribe of Rs 5,000 from an accused whose case he was handling.

Sources said he was handling the case of one Karamjit Singh, a resident of Ropar, who had been asked to join in the investigations by the court in a case registered at Ropar. However, Mr Gurmukh Singh allegedly demanded Rs 10,000 from Karamjit to make him join the investigations.

The deal was settled at Rs 5,000 and the money was to be handed over at a petrol station in Phase VII here today. However, Karamjit contacted Vigilance and a trap was laid.



24.8 pc growth rate of LIC’s Chandigarh division
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 10
The Chandigarh division of LIC of India has performed creditably in the current financial year by selling 55,492 policies with sum assured Rs 444.67 crore and the first premium income of Rs 28.41 crore.

The division has achieved a growth rate of 24.8 per cent in policies, 27.2 per cent in sum assured and 148.4 per cent in first premium income over the corresponding period last year.

The division achieved first position in north zone in earning first premium income of Rs 13.58 crore under the Bima Plus Plan. The Morinda branch achived its annual terget in first premium income on August 5 and ranked first in the north zone by achieving Rs 3.37 crore FPI as against a target of Rs 3.35 crore for the year 2004-05.

On the claim front, Chandigarh Division settled 31478 maturity claims and 821 death claims as on July 31.


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