C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


PUDA begins mapping illegal constructions
Tribune News Service

Want plots?: Such advertisements greet public at Kansal village
Want plots?: Such advertisements greet public at Kansal village. — A Tribune photograph

Mohali, August 21
The Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) today started the mapping of illegal constructions in Kansal village. Undertaking a comprehensive survey of the various constructions in the area, a PUDA team noted down and photographed all fresh construction that was taking place.

However, since PUDA’s demolition operation in the area yesterday, a large amount of construction activity had come to a standstill. The team had also warned residents in the colonies that they should stop all ongoing construction and not undertake any fresh construction till a final decision by the government is taken regarding the status of the constructed structures in the area.

Spitting venom at the colonisers, residents of one of the illegal colonies alleged that their coloniser had duped them into believing that his colony was registered with PUDA. “We did not know that he was supposed to have a developer’s licence from PUDA which is different from being registered with PUDA as a developer. We were told that these plots were PUDA approved,” said a resident one of the illegal colonies at Kansal adding that by the time they came to know that their houses were irregular, they had put in large amounts of money.

Directing the PUDA team towards large mansions under construction adjacent to their colony, the residents said that these belonged to VIPs. ‘‘We are at the receiving end of constant harassment from the authorities, but no action had been taken against these VIPs. Why does not PUDA warn them?” asked a resident. The PUDA team, however, photographed the construction activity on three large houses coming up adjacent to the colony.

When this reporter made enquiries about the owners, it was found that the plot on which the three houses were being constructed was reportedly jointly owned by a retired IAS officer who had served as the Secretary of the Housing Department in Punjab, a serving IAS officer who had been PUDA’s Chief Administrator some years ago and an office-bearer of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee. Further enquiries revealed that other than these three houses that were currently under construction, two senior police officials also had built houses in the area.

Some residents alleged that an IG-level officer, who had started the police crackdown on illegal colonisers, also had a house on his piece of land in Kansal.

But when enquired, this reporter was told by villagers that this police officer’s land had no construction and did not even have an electricity or water connection.

An IAS officer and three other senior IPS officers who also owned land there, too had not undertaken any construction on their plots.

A PUDA official when contacted pointed out that while owning land in the periphery was not banned, construction on it or colonising it was banned. All construction done in the area after the cut-off date of December 10, 1998, was thus irregular and if taken to its lawful extreme, liable to be demolished by PUDA.

Sources said that as part of the initial inquiry that was undertaken by the Punjab police against the illegal colonisers, a video tape recording of the illegal colonies and constructions in Kansal was done by the police. This included, said a source, shots of the land owned by the various VIPs in the area. The film had footage of lands that were without construction and those that had irregular construction going on. Sources added that this recording was done by a team of DSPs on the orders of Mr Sumedh Singh Saini, IG (Economic offences), Punjab.



Colonisers panicky after police action
Our Correspondent

Kharar, August 21
Tension has gripped colonisers who are developing illegal residential colonies around the town here after the arrest of the General Manager of the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) and some colonisers by the police.

It is learnt that some colonisers, who were raising colonies on the Chandigarh-Kharar road, reportedly went in search of painters today to get names of their shops painted white. In fact, one such person went to the house of a painter at 4 am and brought him in his car to get the work done.

Some colonisers have reportedly left the town while some property dealers who were running their business with the help of colonisers, have reportedly closed their shops. Business was being transacted only through telephones by them.

The Ropar Deputy Commissioner, during a round of the town last year, had asked the SDM to investigate the matter of illegal colonies being constructed in the area after she received complaints in this regard. After investigations, a report had been sent to the Deputy Commissioner stating that a number of colonies had illegally been carved out. However, the authorities concerned had taken no action to demolish such colonies.

Mr Jaswinder Singh Jassi, general secretary of the state unit of the Punjab Youth Congress and, Mr Harjeet Singh, president of the block unit of the Youth Congress, have appreciated the step taken by the police in this regard.



Mohali DSP seeks list of illegal colonisers
Tribune News Service

Mohali, August 21
The DSP, Mohali, Mr Harpreet Singh, today wrote to PUDA asking for a list of the illegal colonisers in the area. The police has also written to the Revenue Department for details of registration of 12 plots allegedly owned in one of the illegal colonies by relatives of arrested General Manager, PUDA, Hardev Singh.

Sources said other than the three colonisers who had been arrested by the police, the SP, Mohali, had been asked to procure the records of five other colonies established illegally.

Mr Harpreet Singh, who is the investigating officer of the illegal colonisers’ case, said while Hardev Singh’s interrogation was on, there were no further arrests in the case. He said that no information regarding the recovery of documents or cash based on Hardev Singh’s information could be given out to preserve the investigation efforts.



Traders stock goods as truckers’ strike begins
Tribune News Service


  • Truckers to transport life-saving drugs.
  • Supplies of milk not to be affected.
  • Stocks of perishable vegetables may run out by Tuesday.
  • Prices of onion and potato may go up.
  • 100 trucks laden with apple reached mandi today.
  • Around 50 per cent vegetables come to the city from Himachal Pradesh.
  • Dry rations, pulses and items like biscuits have been stocked by traders.

Chandigarh, August 21
The impact of an indefinite strike by truckers will be felt in the city in two or three days when stocks of perishable vegetables and fruit exhaust. The strike had no impact today as traders had stocked vegetables and fruits anticipating the strike.

Traders dealing in dry ration like pulses, rice, wheat flour and items like biscuits, shampoos and soaps, said companies had already provided their distributors with more stocks fearing strike. The possibility of shortage of such items was low, sources in the trade told Chandigarh Tribune tonight.

In case of vegetables, hoarding is not easy and veggies like tomato, lady’s finger, gourd, brinjal perish in two to three days. Onions can last up to three to six months if kept properly. However, the price hike will affect onion, which is a mandatory ingredient in any Indian dish. Supplies are limited and stocks may not last beyond 15 days.

Last time when the truckers went on strike in 1997, onions were sold through the government’s Food Supplies Department.

City-based truckers today joined the all-India strike by transporters and stopped booking of goods. The strike is being observed to protest the imposition of service tax. The president of the Chandigarh Transport Association, Mr Ajit Singh Kaler, said it had been decided at the national level to transport lifesaving drugs to major hospitals. He said vegetable and fruit supplies would, however, be hit.

The president of the Chandigarh Aarhtiya Association, Mr Des Raj Gupta, said so far there was no impact of the strike but in two to three days the shortage of vegetables and fruit would be felt if the strike continued.

Interestingly, around 100 apple-laden trucks arrived from Himachal Pradesh this morning.

These trucks had left for destination two days ago. The number will drop by tomorrow as bookings stopped today.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Arun Kumar, said the administration had enough trucks to fetch milk supplies if required.



Love in black & white
Cacophony has much to crow about
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 21
This is another example of how love changes hearts — not just of humans but even of crows.

About nine months in homely surroundings and this crow, appropriately named Cacophony, fancies himself as a human — sipping tea, feasting on almonds, cleanly tearing paper and pecking on the nose of the loved ones to show it cares for them.

But Cacophony has not given up his once untamed habits. The foster family has a lot to crow about his aggressive and wild ways. Though one-eyed because of an injury and with extremely limited flight, its acts of daring are legendary in a family that prides itself in heroism in battle action. Cacophony has looked many a dog in the eye and made them retreat with their tails between their legs.

Its love is also not easily available. In fact, it is largely meant for the woman it takes as its mother. Dimple Rattan, a retired Army officer’s daughter and a resident of Sector 16 here, had rescued the crow about nine months ago from a hungry dog that was dragging it by the right wing.

“I was driving past the Sector 9 lights when I saw it being mauled by a stray dog. You can still see the damage in that portion. I chased the dog away and took the crow home. Its right eye had been damaged. I tried leaving it on the branch of one of the trees, assuming it was home to him. But it kept toppling over. So, I brought it home and made it my pet.”

What followed thereafter was a wild goose chase for the crow’s treatment. The Rattan family hunted for appropriate medical help to cure the injured crow. “The veterinary doctor told us he had never treated a crow. But he extended all medical help and did not charge us money. Though Cacophony recovered, it could never really fly. It can now only hop from one spot to another,” says Col Amarjit Rattan (retd), Dimple’s father.

Dimple located sites on the Net that would offer some help on how to take care of an unusual pet like Cacophony. Naming him was, however, no problem. “It is so cacophonous that we named it thus. That is what it does all day, especially when it wants food. It gets into a ferocious flapping spree when left hungry. It loves to have tea from my cup, even Coke, though the latter makes him a little tizzy.

“It also loves almonds and chicken. And so possessive it is of me that it keeps scaring our pet dogs out of the house. It is unusual to see how my dogs care for Cacophony, even though it pecks them all the time. It wants to hog all my attention,” says Dimple. Interestingly, Cacophony understands all of Dimple’s instructions. When she says, “go home” he hops into his cage. And when she commands, ‘Get under the bed”, the obedient black bird scurries to take cover.

The relationship is unusual indeed. Dimple’s mother Pam Rattan explains, “Cacophony goes to no one expect Dimple. The bond they share is unique.” Unique it indeed is, for books on birds tell us all about how hostile crows can get.



Admn asks PEC to rectify merit list
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 21
The merit list of sportspersons seeking admission to Punjab Engineering College (PEC) violates the gradation norms. This has been pointed out by the UT Sports Department on a clarification sought by the Chandigarh Administration.

College officials have been asked by the Administration to rectify the list at the earliest.

During the counselling for admission to PEC last week the screening committee had displayed a wrong merit list, attracting protests from the candidates who were placed much below the position not as per their achievement.

The candidates in a representation to the Administration had lamented that due to the irregularity they almost lost their chance of getting admission to a better stream. The college authorities had held counselling for the reserved sports category on August 10 on the basis of the “incorrect” merit list. The three-member screening committee, none from the faculty of sports and physical education, decided the list while allegedly ignoring an important clause on inter se merit in the same grade. As a result the students who participated in national events and were position holders in state events were ranked below those who had not participated in a national event but only in state-level events.

What the norms say?

As per the policy regarding reservation of seats in admission to educational/technical/medical institutions under the Chandigarh Administration, the performance in same grade will have to be given in the following descending order: record holders in any event, winners, runners up, third position holders, number of times participated and number of disciplines participated. If there was a tie within the same category then the same would have to be resolved, but by considering the academic merit of the sportsperson. In case of a tie again the same would have to be resolved considering age.



Beant case: accused raises slogans
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 21
Even as the Special CBI Judge, Mr Balbir Singh, adjourned the Beant Singh assassination case to September 8, high drama was witnessed inside the high-security Burail Jail here with an accused shouting pro-Khalistan slogans.

Sources said the trouble arose when Mr AK Ohri, an SP with the CBI, was being cross-examined by the defence counsel. As soon as Mr Ohri made certain remarks relating to a meeting between Dilawar Singh, alleged human bomb, and Balwant Singh, a commando with the Punjab Police and a conspirator, the latter was on his feet shouting pro-Khalistan slogans.

Terming the statement of Mr Ohri as "concocted story", Balwant alleged that there were several discrepancies between seizure memo and the articles recovered from the conspirators. The version of the accused was corroborated by the defence counsel.

Meanwhile, three other co-conspirators--Gurmit Singh, Navjot Singh and Nasib Singh--moved an application before the court seeking directions to jail authorities to allow them to visit the gurdwara for paying obeisance.

It may be recalled that the above accused are being tried as co-conspirators in the assassination of the former Punjab Minister. The three main accused--Jagtar Singh Tara, Jagtar Singh Hawara and Paramjit Singh--along with another undertrial Devi Singh escaped from the jail by digging a tunnel in January this year.



Indian Express reporter wins prize
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 21
Indian Express Staff Reporter Sweta Ramanujan has won the Journalism for Tolerance Prize, along with Subhrata Basu of Ananda Bazaar Patrika and Sri Lanka-based Sharni Jayawardena of Young Asia Television. Each prize carries a cash award of Euro 1000.

The prizes, awarded by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) for South Asia, were announced at a special ceremony held in Colombo. The Editor-in-Chief of The Tribune Group of Publications, Mr H.K. Dua, was a member of the jury.

Ramanujan bagged the prize for her story "Mill on the Loss" in "the print / online English" category. Basu's report "Silent Revolution in Shabdagaon" brought her laurels in the "print / online language category". Jayawardena from Sri Lanka won the prize for "Defiant Art¨ in the "broadcast category".

Supported by the European Commission, the prizes are aimed at promoting tolerance, combating racism and discrimination, besides contributing to an understanding of cultural, religious and ethnic differences.

The finalists included Massoud Ansari from Pakistan, Indian national Basharat Peer, Uvindu Kurukulasuriya and Sharmini Boyle from Sri Lanka, Tank Panta and Srilal Sah from Nepal. The jury also commended Naresh Fernandes (India), Nilofar Suhrawardy (India), Nirmala Sharma (Nepal) and Jeyarani M (India).

Besides Mr Dua, the other jury members included Pakistan's former Press Minister Minhaj Barna, Executive Editor of Ananda Bazaar Patrika Suman Chattopadhyay, Editor of Hindustan Mrinal Pande, Associate Editor (Features) of Kathmandu-based The Rising Nepal Jagadish Pokhrel and Sri Lanka- based Media critic-cum-Lecturer Sunil Wijesirwardena.



Admn’s wake-up call to police on beat boxes displaying ads
Sanjay Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 21
The Chandigarh Administration has pulled up the city police for turning a blind eye to the mushrooming of beat boxes displaying advertisements across the city.

A recent official communication from the Administration also indicates that the appearance of advertisements on the beat boxes was causing licence fee loss to the Administration.

The Finance Secretary in a communication to the Home Secretary has said these beat boxes are erected by the advertisers without paying the licence fee.

The communication further states that it had been noticed that a large number of these boxes have been erected all over the city without the permission of the Administration.

The letter, a copy of which has been sent to the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Rajesh Kumar, for necessary action, says the IGP was asked to get these removed but the police got them painted white.

The letter from the Finance Secretary notes that the advertisements have re-appeared on the beat boxes.

The official communication has asked the IGP and the Home Secretary to get these advertisements removed immediately.

The letter from the Finance Secretary also brings to the notice of the Home Department and the IGP the display of advertisements on beat boxes, traffic umbrellas and barricades.

Official sources said the police was allegedly involved in the violation of the advertisement control Act.

In December last year the authorities had carried out a survey of 93 beat boxes across the city. Following a Tribune story last year, payment of advertisement fee had been made mandatory in the case of 42 booths.

The authorities found out that 52 of the 93 beat boxes had advertisement display on them. The Municipal Corporation charges an annual fee of Rs 2,700 for display on 48 sq ft. However, this does not include the licence fee.



Public, police contact drive
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 21
The Chandigarh Police yesterday initiated a police-public contact programme to make the city a safer and better place.

An effort in this direction was made today with the IGP, Mr Rajesh Kumar, SSP Gaurav Yadav, SP (Traffic) Amitabh Dhillon, all sub-divisional police officers and station house officers holding a meeting with a large number of representatives of residents’ welfare associations.

The meeting was held at Panjab University and continued for three hours.

Mr Rajesh Kumar indicated that the police was ready to become a link between the people and the government, forwarding grievances of people to the government for necessary action.

The IGP made this promise after representatives of welfare associations discussed issues related to the engineering and other departments.

The representatives asked the police to put up red lights and blinkers at several places in the city.

They wanted the police to issue identity cards to hawkers, cable operators and salesmen. The people demanded that such meetings be made a regular affair.

The IGP said the SHOs would hold regular meetings. Beat officers would pay a regular visit to the houses of senior citizens.

The residents drew the attention of the police towards eve teasing, illegal paying guest accommodations, nuisance of rickshaw pullers, illegal stands and movement of rehris.

The IGP promised to take time-bound action on these complaints.

The residents also sought a solution to the problem of traffic congestion outside schools.



Opposition Senators gun for VC
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 21
Tussle between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has always occupied the centre stage at the Panjab University Senate elections. This time, just ahead of the elections, a battle is on between the BJP-appointed Vice-Chancellor, Prof K.N. Pathak, and Mr Gopal Krishan Chatrath, a Senator owing allegiance to the Congress.

With the change in government at the Centre, “Congress-minded” Senators have stepped up their crusade against the “misdeeds” of Prof K.N. Pathak, appointed and given an extension during the BJP regime. Ten-time Senator of Panjab University, Mr Chatrath has opened a front against Professor Pathak by sending a letter to the Human Resources and Development Ministry in a bid to expose the wrong doing of the VC in the past four years.

A student of the former Union Minister (Human Resource Development), Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, Prof Pathak’s association with him is well-known on the campus and outside. Sources said the fact, too, was all set to be exploited by Congress Senators who empasise that no action, whatsoever, had been initiated against the VC during the time the BJP was in power, whatever their complaints or grievances were.

“It is not that we haven’t protested. The complaints sent by us have either found their way into the dustbin or have been shelved. No hearing at any level was ever held. With the Congress government at the Centre, we can at least hope that the wrongs will be looked into thoroughly,” says Mr Chatrath.

He said the issue of allowing the BJP to hold a camp in the university was raised on the floor of the House and the then president of Panjab University Teachers’ Association (PUTA) and other academics had objected to the same, but nothing came of the protests.

“His skin was saved because he was appointed by the BJP. Now, that the Congress government is in power, we will expose the VC’s misdeeds of all these years and urge the Ministry to conduct an independent and fair inquiry,” he added.

However, while Professor Pathak refused to comment on the matter, sources close to him said forwarding complaints against him was only an attempt by some Senators to put pressure on the VC and, ultimately, having their way in matters pertaining to the university and its affairs.



War of words between VC, Senator
Tribune News service

Chandigarh, August 21
The war of words between the Vice-Chancellor, Panjab University, Prof K.N. Pathak, and a Senator, Mr G.K. Chatrath, intensified today with the former clarifying his stand on issues raised by the latter at yesterday’s press conference and the latter demanding a high-level inquiry into the expenditure made by the VC during his term.

Mr Chatrath also demanded that the TA/DA payments made to members for attending committee meetings should also be scrutinised.

In a statement, Prof Pathak claimed he had always held meetings of the Senate along with those of the faculties during the past four years, keeping in view the austerity measures, financial viability and cost-reduction.

He denied Mr Chatrath’s claim that RSS boss Mr K.S. Sudarshan had ever stayed in the university guest house. He clarified that he had not attendedthefunction where the President of India was the chief guest because he had not been invited by the organisers“I had a prior engagement in Delhi. In fact, not being invited to the conference was an insult to me,” he added.

On his association with the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, he said he had known him personally and had opportunities to interact with him at various committees. “We extended felicitations to him when he took over as the Prime Minister. I extended an invitation to him to visit the university so that we could honour him,” he added.

He said the facts given by Mr Chatrath were incorrect and baseless. “These have been designed with a motive of self-interest,” he added.

Mr Chatrath, categorically, denied that the VC had not been invited. “He, in fact, chose not to attend the function and deputed the then DUI to stand in for him,” he alleged.

He added that the VC’s claim that he did not know about the university hosting a BJP camp was incorrect.



Fire officials inspect buildings
Our Correspondent

Mohali, August 21
Local fire brigade officials found the fire safety arrangements at PUDA Bhavan building in Phase VIII here upto the mark.

A team of fire officials inspected the building here today and found that all fire extinguishers installed inside the building were in a working condition.

Mr Devinder Singh Dogra, Sub-Fire officer, said the water hydrants installed outside the building were inspected and the water was pressure checked. All arrangements were found to be in order.

Mr Lakhwinder Singh, Station Fire Officer, said they had inspected the ESI Hospital, Phase VIII, Industrial Area, a few days ago and found that no arrangements to fight any untoward incident related to fire were made. The state of affairs was brought to the notice of the authorities concerned.



Children perform at Plaza
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, August 21
The weekend cultural show at Plaza, Sector 17, witnessed a heavy rush on Saturday. Budding students were given a chance to show their talent in singing.

The show began with a religious song sung by Karamjeet Bajwa. Then Kamalpreet Singh, Chetan, Kumar Sajan, Jitenderdeep, Jagtar Jaggi and Pushpender Sidhu rendered songs.

The event was organised by the Department of Tourism, Chandigarh Administration.



Teej celebrated
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, August 21
Teej was celebrated at Hanumant Dham, Sector 40B today. It was organised by the Nari Jagriti Manch. Women participated with guste Stalls of “gol gappe’, ‘chat’ and ‘Mehndi’ were also put by them. There was also a programme on Punjabi dance, “giddha”.




Women celebrate “Teej” at Hanumant Dham in Sector 40-B, Chandigarh, on Saturday. — A Tribune photograph

Women celebrate "Teej" at Hanumant Dham in Sector 40-B, Chandigarh



Cola companies ‘missionaries’ of MNCs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 21
Terming Coca Cola and Pepsi as missionaries of MNCs out to wreak havoc on the India economy, an Allahabad-based NGO, Azadi Bachao Andolan (ABA), has decided to intensify its campaign against the “corporate capitalism”.

“Thousands of MNCs encompassing all sectors, including agriculture, industry, services and trade, are virtually controlling the country in collusion with the ruling class,” the ABA national president, Prof B.L. Sharma, told Chandigarh Tribune.

Outlining the NGO’s strategy, Professor Sharma called upon the general public, particularly farmers and students, to besiege cola plants at strategic locations and force gram panchayats to declare groundwater as collective village property. The initiative of Perumatti village in Palakkad district had been successful and even the Kerala High Court had upheld the ownership of village panchayat over the groundwater, he asserted.

Giving figures, Professor Sharma said over 100 plants of cola companies were extracting over 3 crore litres of groundwater daily over an area 20,000 acres. By using this “free” water, they were doing business of over Rs 6,000 crore per year, he added.

The failure of the two rounds of “rich-poor” talks at Cancun and Geneva recently has put a big question mark on the future of the WTO with the developed and developing nations differing on phasing out the farm subsidies. Contrary to the general perception, developed nations granted 36 per cent subsidies to the agricultural sector, as against 24 per cent by developing nations.

Under the provisions of the General Agreement on Trade Services (GATS), MNCs were eyeing certain vital services such as water, education and sanitation, which had been the domain of public sector till now. With the entry of MNCs in these sectors, the potable water, whose world trade is estimated at around $ 2 trillion, would be virtually out of the reach of the common man.

The ABA was closely coordinating its activities with other NGOs to launch a nationwide movement to liberate India from corporate colonialism and build a society based on “swadeshi”, simplicity and self-reliance, Prof V.C. Nanda, local convener, said.



‘Dream home show’ attracts visitors
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 21
The “Dream home road show”, being organised by Samsung at the CII convention centre in Sector 31 here, has evoked a good response from visitors, the organisers said today.

The four-day show, which concludes tomorrow, showcases the latest hi-tech digital products like the plasma display panel, LCD TV, LCD projection TV, home theatre systems, DVD players, “Plano” digital flat televisions, CD-based audio systems, “Bio” range of home appliances, refrigerators and camcorders.

Mr Rajesh Khurana, Deputy General Manager (Sales), said the company aimed at achieving a sales turnover of Rs 5,273 crore this year against Rs 3,708 crore last year.


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