C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Pay more, get less
Wages of civic privatisation in Panchkula
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, August 24
The privatisation experiment of the Panchkula Municipal Council has failed to deliver. Even as the council has been paying more to private contractors for sanitation works and maintenance of streetlights this year, these services have gone for a six.

Defunct streetlights on almost all Sector-dividing roads; heaps of garbage in most areas; and stray cattle menace, especially in Sectors adjoining the 13 villages and slum colonies in the town, seem to be the rule rather than exception. Though the MC had privatised sanitation services, maintenance of streetlights and catching of stray cattle on the assurance of providing better services, the situation has only worsened.

The MC authorities claim that the present state of affairs is because of the monsoon. They claim that because of rain, safai karamcharis are unable to clean roads; electric wire joints of streetlights have loosened; and stray cattle are out on the roads because of easy availability of fodder in the monsoon season. Residents, however, are not convinced. Says Mr S.S. Goel, councillor from Sector 16, “Over 50 per cent of the streetlights in Sector 16 are out of order for the past several days. Stray cattle take over roads at night, when they are let off by dairy owners in the nearby slum areas. Because of darkness and the stray animals, there is a constant fear of accidents.”

He says he has taken up the matter of poor streetlight maintenance with the MC president, but to no avail. “The MC is also not imposing any fine on the contractor. He is paid Rs 1.70 lakh each month for the maintenance of almost 8,400 streetlights and in case he fails to repair the defunct lights within 48 hours, a fine of Rs 100 per light point is to be imposed”. He has now threatened to launch a stir against the contractor hired for the maintenance of streetlights.

Agrees Mr C.B. Goel, councillor from Sector 7, “Before 2002, when HUDA was maintaining streetlights, it was doing it at the rate of Rs 6 per light point, but the MC is maintaining it at the rate of Rs 25 per point. The money spent has increased manifold, but the maintenance is poor.”

Residents also complain of poor sanitation facilities in the town. Mr Naresh Rawal, councillor from Sector 15, says heaps of garbage can be seen in most parts of the city. “The MC cannot excuse the sanitation contractor for his inability to maintain cleanliness by saying that because of the monsoon the sanitation services have been hit. After all, he is being paid Rs 11. 80 lakh a month for maintaining sanitation in all four zones as compared to Rs 3.87 lakh per month last year. However, results cannot be seen,” he adds.

With an annual income of Rs 7. 34 crore, and the government sanctioning a mere 104 posts for the MC, it was decided to contract out sanitation services, maintenance of streetlights, catching of stray cattle and development of parks. In fact, the Local Bodies Department had decided to emulate the privatisation of works of the civic body here in other parts of the state.

As soon as sanitation and maintenance of streetlights were transferred to the MC in October, 2002, these were contracted out by inviting open tenders. The job of catching stray cattle and letting these off outside the MC limits had been privatised by the MC earlier. Other than these three services, the MC had also privatised the lifting of congress grass and malba, maintenance of public parks and roads. The MC president, Ms Seema Chaudhary, however, says,”Privatisation has reduced the financial burden of the MC, and moreover, private contractors are more accountable. Whenever any aberration in the work of the contractor is found, we have been imposing fines on the contractor.” She adds that she has now given the contractors an ultimatum of a week to pull up their socks, or fines will be imposed on them.



Face-off at the PGI
Don’t hesitate to disagree with Director, IAS deputy tells staff
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 24
In an unprecedented move, the Deputy Director, Administration DDA, PGI, Ms Meeta Rajiv Lochan, today issued a circular in which she indirectly questioned the administrative ability of the Director. She has told the staff: “ Please do not hesitate in disagreeing with the Director in case that is what the truth demands…..”

The circular created a flutter on the PGI campus and also exposed the “vertical split” among the top officialdom of the PGI.

In the circular, Ms Lochan says: “Please remember that Prof Talwar is a medicine man. His core competence does not lie in administrative matters and there is a tremendous amount of administrative paper work that is routinely generated at the PGI. Prof Talwar needs to be briefed about all administrative matters, rules, regulations, administrative procedures, etc. For this purpose the DPGI (Prof Talwar) rightly interacts directly with various members of the administrative staff, including the clerks, sections heads and gazetted officers for receiving appropriate briefing.”

The Director, Prof K.K. Talwar, when contacted, said “I am sorry I am not aware of any such circular”. The DDA said “It was routine office communication and internal to the Administrative Wing of the PGI and it was not to contest the Director’s administrative capability.”

The DDA has sent a copy of the circular to the Vigilance Section, Establishment Branch, Computer Cell, Law Office, Estate Office, Committee Branch and the Hindi Office. No copy has been sent to the Director or to his office. All other staff members in the mentioned departments received the circular.

In PGI circles it is seen as an attempt by Ms Lochan to bring on record that whatever the Director was doing was on his own and not in consultation with her but directly in consultation with her staff like clerks and sections heads.

When Ms Lochan was asked if she had intended to highlight the Director’s direct interaction with her staff, she said: “Nothing of that sort and whatever is there it is in the circular.” On being asked why the circular was not sent to the Director or his office, she said: “ It was meant for internal circulation of the Administrative Wing.”

In the circular, Ms Lochan asks her staff: “Please take care that whatever advice/ opinion/information you give to the DPGI, is as per rules, succinct, truthful and unambiguous. Please take care not to give misleading information. Please do not hesitate in disagreeing with the DPGI in case that is what the truth demands.”

There are four wings in the PGI. Matters of the hospital management are routed through the Medical Superintendent. Financial and accounting matters are routed through the Financial Adviser. Matters of the Engineering wing are routed through the Superintending Hospital Engineer while Ms Rajiv Lochan deals with administrative matters and establishment issues. The Director heads all these units.



The brief Bethlehem bloom
A rare epicacti variety flowered just for tonight
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, Aug 24
Nature has its own ways of springing surprises, as it did tonight when the Catholic Church in Sector 19 came alive with the beauty of rare flowers.

Seated in a row, the exotic Bethlehems were a virtual visual treat that will not even last till the sunrise tomorrow. A flower of significance to Christianity, the Bethlehem derives its name from its legendary association with the cradle of Lord Jesus.

As Father Stephen Fernandes of Catholic Church said, “This flower is unique and exceptionally beautiful. It is famous as it represents the cradle of Lord Jesus. It also has a star like shape that reminds us of the star of Bethlehem.”

The church indeed got lucky with eight flowers blooming at the same time. Planted years ago, the cacti were shifted from the pots to the ground about two years ago. The flowers finally began blooming at 8.30 pm today. The bud takes 15 days to develop and show up. As for the flower, it invariably blooms in October or even later. This time it has emerged unexpectedly.

Like other epicactus varieties, the Bethlehems follow the natural cycle that ensures their rare flowering. Averse to over watering and too much shade, this variety blooms the best when planted in sandy soil and kept in dry conditions. Succulent by nature, the Bethlehem, like other cacti, is short lived.

As Prof M.L. Sharma, Head of Department, Botany, PU, confirmed to The Tribune, “Being a cacti variety, the Bethlehem lives just for a night and withers by the morning. The reason behind its short life span is the lack of sexual reproduction. We find vegetative reproduction in the Bethlehems, like we find in other cacti wherein flowers are like vestigial organs. As we have the vermiform appendix, which will gradually be lost in the cycle of evolution, these epicacti have flowers. It is an old genetic order that manifests as flowering among the cacti.”



Banking hit as staff strike work
Tribune Reporters

Chandigarh, August 24
Banking operations in the city were hit today as officers and employees of all public sector banks, including the State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, the Central Bank of India and United Commercial Bank, observed a one-day strike in support of their long-pending demand of wage revision, besides other things. However, private and foreign banks in the city, including the ICICI, the HDFC and Citibank, functioned as usual though these had to face problems of cheque clearances.

Mr Amar Pal, joint general secretary, AIBOC, and president, All-India State Bank Officers Federation, said they were forced to observe a strike today after all 14 meetings with the Indian Bankers Association (IBA) yielded no fruitful results on the main issue of wage revision. He warned the authorities that if no action was taken on their main demand following today’s strike, they were prepared for a long-drawn struggle and would observe a two-day strike in September.

The agitating bank employees first gathered at the Sector 17 State Bank of India premises and raised slogans against the government and the IBA. They later held a massive rally at Bank Square to register their protest.

Mr T.R. Verma, general secretary of the Officers Association of the PNB (North Zone), said, “Even after 22 months of the expiry of the previous agreement, the IBA was neither serious nor anxious to resolve the issue confronting the bank employees. The bipartite agreement between the IBA and the bank unions had expired on October 31, 2002, and the wage revision was long overdue since the net profits of the banks had gone up three times during this period and non-performing assets (NPA) had gone down.”

AMBALA: Banks in Ambala Cantonment and Ambala City remained closed on Tuesday following a one-day strike.

Bank officers and employees held a demonstration near the Central Bank of India, Nicholson Road. Mr R.K. Gulati, organising secretary of the Haryana Bank Employees Federation, said more than 10 lakh bank employees throughout the country observed a strike today. He said in case a fair wage settlement did not take place, they would be forced to intensify their stir.

PATIALA: Employees and officers of banks organised a rally in front of the head office of the State Bank of Patiala here on Tuesday. As many as 500 employees and officers participated in the rally.

FATEHGARH SAHIB: Banking operations were paralysed here on Tuesday as employees of public sector banks in the district observed a strike. About 250 employees staged a rally in front of Punjab National Bank, Sirhind branch.



300 science students to display working models
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 24
Students from far-flung areas of the north-western region would be competing with their urban brethren at a two-day regional-level science exhibition being conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) in coordination with Intel at DAV Public School, Sector 15, here on August 27 and 28.

The future scientists and engineers would be displaying working models on a wide array of themes like electric energy from smoke, preventing trucks from toppling, working model of hovercraft, DNA finger printing, and software to help students to learn at their own pace.

The city has been selected for the first time as nodal point to hold the exhibition for students from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Rajasthan. The 20 best schools would get an opportunity to participate in the Jawahar Lal Nehru National Science Exhibition to be organised by NCERT in November this year.

The students with best models at the national-level would get a chance to represent the country at Intel International Science and Engineering fair to be held in the USA.

Giving details of the event at a press conference, the Regional Officer of the CBSE, Mr P.I.Sabu and Coordinator of the event and Principal of DAV Public School, Sector 15, Rakesh Sachdeva, said around 200 schools and 300 individual students were expected to display their working models.

Students from Class IX to XII can exhibit their models , including the working and simulations.

The subjects on which the models could be based were food and health, energy, industry, transport and communication and biotechnology. The official said the model or the exhibits could include schemes of devices or machines, indigenous designs of devices, improvised models and innovative designs and techniques.

As per the rules, each school can send maximum of two entries. A panel of seven judges, professors from colleges and universities, would shortlist 45 entries and of these the best 20 would be finalised.

For the purpose of coordination, the entire country has been divided into six zones-Chennai, Guwahati, Allahabad, Ajmer, Delhi and Chandigarh.

Mr Sabu said the first 20 entries would be given merit certificates and other would be given participation certificates.



A gathering of Urdu scholars in action
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 24
Haryana's association with Urdu may be legendary but few people knew this fact until this evening when the intellectual heritage of the state was revisited.

Had it not been for the formal opening of the Haryana chapter of Anjuman Taraqqi-e-Urdu, a century-old organisation involved in the promotion of Urdu, one would not have heard anything about Zaffar Zatalli or Munshi Gyani Ram, the two littérateurs who did Haryana proud.

The occasion was significant, not just because it marked the constitution of Anjuman Taraqqi-e-Urdu, Haryana, but also because it saw a gathering of Urdu scholars talking action. In command at CRRID, Sector 19 (Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development), were Urdu writer Dr K.L. Zakir, who will head the new found body in Haryana, Dr Khaliq Anjum, who chairs Anjuman Taraqq-e-Urdu Hind worldwide, and Dr S.R Kidwai, the man behind the Ghalib Institute in Delhi.

While Dr Zakir traced the birth of Urdu to Haryana, besides introducing the famed satirist Zaffar Zatalli who belonged to Narnaul, Dr Khaliq Anjum profiled Anjuman as a 100-year-old organisation that aids research in Urdu. The Haryana Chapter of Anjuman is the 622nd branch of the organisation in India. Significantly, Anjuman Tarraqi-e-Urdu Hind has published over 3000 research books in Urdu. There is not a single seat of Urdu education where scholars don't study books published by Anjuman.

Speaking to The Tribune, Dr Anjum listed some objectives of the Haryana Chapter. "They should start publication of books which will further facilitate research in Urdu. They should also demand a seat of Urdu learning in the Panjab University at Chandigarh."

For his part, Dr Zakir said the main objectives of the organisation would be "publication of research books in Urdu, collection and publication of manuscripts and historical references, restoration of Urdu poet Altaf Hassain Hali's ancestral house in Panipat and commencement of Urdu classes in Haryana." To begin with, the organisation will have about 20 life members.

Among other tasks of the organisation would be restoration of the dignity of Urdu writers from Haryana. Creation of a museum in memory of Hali is on the cards. Dr Zakir, whose new book, "Agni Pariksha", was also released by Haryana Governor A.R. Kidwai today, told The Tribune that the Anjuman Haryana chapter would publish literature to revive the glory of writers like Munshi Gyani Ram, who wrote the first Urdu book titled, "Riyaz-e-Dilruba."

For this and more, Dr Zakir will seek help from Anjuman Taraqqi-e-Urdu Hind as well as Ghalib Institute. As a new chapter was written in the literary history of Haryana today, its Governor rightfully deplored the erosion of joint family system while referring to the problem of old age reflected by Dr Zakir in his new novelette. He also hailed Urdu as the language of the nation, and promised support in all matters pertaining to its promotion.



BEL produces head-up display units for combat aircraft
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 24
Giving an impetus to indigenisation in the military aviation sector, public sector defence giant Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) has started commercial production of Head-up Display (HUD) units for the Light Combat Aircraft.

BEL's Panchkula complex has received separate orders from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Bangalore, as well as the locally-based Central Scientific Instruments Organisation (CSIO) for HUD units. The orders mark the production of the first commercial batch of HUDs.

An electro-optical instrument, HUD is installed above the cockpit's instrument panel, with its screen at about the pilot's eye-level. The screen superimposes vital flight parameters like airspeed, altitude, rate of turn, compass direction and armament status on the pilot's vision of the outside world, doing away to look down repeatedly into the cockpit and thereby allowing him to fly with his "head up".

"HAL's immediate requirement is for eight units, while the CSIO has placed orders for 11 units," a senior officer at BEL said. "We expect to supply these units by March, 2005," he added.

HUD was designed and developed by the CSIO and later the technology was transferred to BEL to undertake commercial production. The CSIO has already supplied several HUD units to the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for installation in the indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft, Tejas.

HUD was first installed on the TD-2, Tejas's second prototype manufactured by the Aeronautical Development Agency and has since gone through exhaustive flight and environmental tests. The fist prototype, TD-1, had flown with an imported HUD.

Though the HUD project was initiated by the CSIO to meet requirements of the LCA, it can also be used in other aircraft after suitable modifications. It has already been modified for installation on the MiG27.

Sources said that sanction had also been accorded for the CSIO to begin work on developing a HUD for the Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT), being developed indigenously by HAL. The IJT will replace the aging Kiran trainers in the IAF.



Truckers’ strike: residents feel the pinch
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 24
Strike by truckers for the fourth consecutive day today made the prices of vegetables rise further marginally. But price hike had them buying packaged food items like tomato puree, packed and frozen peas, garlic and ginger paste to cut down on costs.

The dhaba owners said they were not going to shift the cost on to the customer. The manager of a dhaba in Sector 22, Mr Milan Yadav, said they were not going to hike the prices. Mr Jagjit Singh, another dhaba in Sector 26, owner said: “ If strike lasts long, we will not serve the vegetables which are costing more and we will decrease the quantity of salad as well.”

Ravinder Kumar a dhaba owner in Sector 32, said that there was difficulty n getting fresh vegetables due to the strike, still there was no compromise with the quality and quantity of food. “We will not hike the prices,” he said.

Today as the strike continued for the fourth day prices rose further. The rates apples were between Rs 35 and Rs 50, depending upon the variety. The price of vegetables was close to that of yesterday, however, the rates of capsicum rose from Rs 20 per kg yesterday to between Rs 25 and Rs 30. The price of tomatoes remained at Rs 28 to Rs 30 per kg. Brinjals were at Rs 20 per kg while onions and potatoes continued to be sold at Rs 12-14 per kg. Some of the vegetables like lady’s finger seemed to have vanished from the market.

The price hike had made residents turn to packaged or ready to eat food. Mr Ranjit Sahni of Sector 46 said: unshelled fresh peas being sold in the market were costing Rs 40 per kg, which after shelling were reduced to around 600 gm; whereas the already shelled packed peas were costing Rs 69 per Kg.

The price of ginger paste available in the market was Rs 11 per 100 gms. Owner of a super market in sector 34 said they had enough stock to meet the needs of the people. If the current trend of price rise continued for another eight to ten days, the common man might be compelled to buy more ready-to-eat products.

Meanwhile, the Chandigarh Administration said the city had an adequate supply of LPG cylinders, petrol and diesel also the Market Committee had been directed to monitor the price and availability of fruit and vegetables.

A review of the situation emanating from the truckers strike’ was carried out at a high-level meeting under the chairmanship of the Adviser to the Administrator, Mr Lalit Sharma, today. The meeting took stock of the availability of the essential commodities in the city. It also brought out that the stock position of the LPG cylinders was satisfactorily being maintained as on average every gas agency was having 400 to 1000 cylinders. The LPG dealers were also getting regular supplies from their respective companies and there was neither any shortage nor any panic buying.

With regard to petroleum products, the petrol pumps were getting regular supplies of petrol and diesel. On an average every petrol pump is having 5000 to 20000 litres of diesel as well as petrol.



Rain, truckers’ strike spell doom for apple growers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 24
Rains spelt double trouble for the apple growers of the region whose produce has been damaged on account of continuing rainfall.

Several trucks loaded with the apple produce have been parked at the Sector 26 Grain market on account of the ongoing truckers’ strike. Even while the talks show no signs of success, many truckers camping in Chandigarh told the Tribune that they had suffered losses of lakhs due to the damage caused to their produce by rains. While the truckers are still assessing their losses, traffic snarls hit the city and its nearby areas yet again as monsoon showers continued till the afternoon today.

Among the worst hit spots of the city were the road opposite the Sector 17 bus stand, the 18-19 light points and Sector 34 roundabout where vehicles were held up for about half an hour before traffic cleared this morning. Besides blockades in traffic, many places in the city were hit due to water logging. The colonies remained particularly vulnerable to this problem, as always. The neighbouring Panchkula also faced traffic blockades at the Housing Board light point and the Railway light point where the traffic police had a difficult time ensuring smooth flow of traffic.

Although lesser in intensity, today’s rains posed problems for daily commuters who found it difficult as public transport vehicles were running behind the schedule. As per reports of local Met Department officials, today’s rain measured just about 8 mm (recorded from morning till the evening today). The rain recorded last night was about 26.1 mm. Clubbed together the city recorded 34.1 mm of rain over a day and a half. The showers are likely to continue till tomorrow, after which the monsoon is again likely to weaken for a while.

Rainfall recorded in the other stations till today morning was Patiala 954.6 mm), Shimla (18 mm), Amritsar (1.2 mm) and Hissar (13 mm).

Met officials informed that rainfall would last for about a day, following which the system will again change, weakening the monsoon for some time. It is however slated to revive again, as this is not the end of the monsoon season, said Met officials. Meanwhile, the temperature continued to drop on account of rainfall.



PUDA suspends Hardev Singh
Tribune News Service

Mohali, August 24
The Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) today suspended Hardev Singh, GM (Regulatory) from PUDA in wake of his police custody in the illegal colonisers case. Hardev Singh, who had initially joined on deputation from PSIDC was later absorbed in PUDA as a regular employee. Hardev Singh was awaiting his promotion as Additional Chief Administrator.

Earlier, a Kharar court yesterday remanded Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) General Manager (Regulatory) Hardev Singh in nine-day judicial custody in a case of cheating, forgery, criminal conspiracy and corruption registered at Mohali on July 4, in connection with the unauthorised housing colonies in the periphery of Chandigarh. Besides ordering to produce the accused in the court on September 1, SubDivisional Judicial Magistrate Poonam Ratti directed the Jail Superintendent to act as per rules and Jail Manual on the request of the accused seeking A-Class facilities during the judicial custody.

Arrested on August 18 for allegedly “misusing” his power by “accepting” and “demanding” undue favours from “unauthorised” colonisers in Chandigarh’s periphery, the PUDA GM (Regulatory) was produced before the court here yesterday after the expiry of his four-day police remand. On August 19, a Kharar court had sent him in police custody till yesterday.

Seeking extension of police remand for the accused on the grounds of further interrogation and investigation, the prosecution submitted that Hardev Singh had been posted as PUDA GM since 1996 and he had assured the president of the Working Women Welfare Rural Society, Amba Prasad, that he would approve his society but demanded a plot for this purpose.

Contending that when Amba Prasad did not concede to the demand of Hardev Singh, the latter refused PUDA approval to his society. The prosecution added that Hardev Singh managed a share certificate and allotment letter signed by the society’s treasurer and secretary and sent them to Amba Prasad for signatures through former sarpanch of Kansal village Arjan Singh. But Amba Prasad refused to sign the certificate. The prosecution contended that Hardev Singh got 12 plots allotted in the names of his family members, close relatives and friends from Sunil Saini of the Teg Cooperative House Building Society at Kansal and got the sale deeds registered for the allotted plots after making partial payments for these. Hardev Singh, according to the prosecution, took responsibility of the remaining payment on behalf of the buyers but backed out from it.

Arguing that Hardev Singh was not even named as accused in the FIR, which was only limited to unauthorised colonisers, the defence counsel Mr Rajesh Gupta opposed the prosecution’s request. Arguing that the persons, on whose statements Hardev Singh was implicated in the case, had been convicted on the complaint of Hardev Singh, the defence claimed that he had not been holding the charge of GM (Regulatory) for the past two and a half years and had been given back his charge only 10 days ago.

Rajesh Gupta, while disputing the allegations, said the PUDA GM was not competent to approve colonies and this power lay solely with PUDA’s Chief Administrator.

Four colonisers, Gurinder Singh Bhatia, Amba Prasad, Sunil Saini and Jai Dev, who had also been arrested in the same case, were sent in judicial custody till September 1 by the Kharar court on August 20, after the expiry of their two-day police remand.



PunCom wakes up to fire safety
Our Correspondent

Mohali, August 24
While employees were busy cleaning up the mess created by a major fire at PunCom yesterday, causing damaged worth about Rs 20 lakh, the authorities today decided to improve fire safety measures on the factory premises.

Mr Viswajit Khanna, Managing Director of PunCom, told The Tribune today that a smoke alarm would be installed in the factory. As the unit did not have any smoke alarm, a major disaster could have occurred had the fire taken place at night. The situation was brought under control as the incident took place during daytime.

He said the smoke alarm would be linked to the guard room of the factory so that the officials concerned could be immediately contacted when such a need arose. Fire-fighting equipments would be replenished and gas masks arranged. “We need to be better prepared to meet any future accident”, he added.

Mr Khanna claimed that the fire had been doused by the staff of PunCom by using fire extinguishers and only ambers were left for which outside help was needed. Asked about expired fire extinguishers found in the factory, he said almost all of these had been refilled in time.

However, officials of the local fire brigade are planing to give a notice to PunCom, asking the company as to why some fire extinguishers had not been refilled in time. An official of the fire brigade told this correspondent on condition of anonymity that about six extinguishers, noticed by him, were expired.

The MD said work had normalised at the factory. The loss caused by the fire was being assessed by an insurance company. He said some office equipment, carpets, wiring and panels needed to be replaced. Even a portion of the roof needed repair.



Sanitation contractors offer lower rates
Our Correspondent

Mohali, August 24
Owing to stiff competition, sanitation contractors have offered to carry out work in the town at rates which are about 30 per cent lower than the estimated cost worked out by the municipal council in this regard.

The council had worked out an estimated cost of over Rs 1.04 crore for the sanitation work in the town, which had been divided into four zones. The contractors have offered to work for a total amount of over Rs 71 lakh for a year. The tenders for the work were opened yesterday at the civic body office.

Mr Kulwant Singh, president of the council, said here today that there was tough competition for the work among contractors. But they would have to keep in mind that by quoting low figures they could not compromise on the quality of work. They would have to satisfy residents with their performance.

He said as the term of the earlier contractors had expired yesterday, he wanted that the work orders for the next contract should be given by tomorrow.

The sanitation work of zone I (Phase I, II, III-A, VI, Mohali, and Shahimajra villages) has been allotted to Ara Housekeeping and Manpower Services for Rs 19 lakh against an estimated cost of Rs 26.61 lakh.The work for zone II (Phases VII to IX, III-B1 and III-B2) and zone III (Phases X, XI, Sector 48-C and Guru Nanak Colony) has been allotted to Gill Contractor at a cost of Rs 19.98 lakh and Rs 13 lakh, respectively. The estimated cost for zone II was Rs 27.63 lakh while that of zone III was Rs 21.49 lakh. The work for zone IV (Phases IV, V, Sectors 70, 71 and Mataur village) was allotted to Jaspal Singh and Co for Rs 19.32 lakh against an estimated cost of Rs 29.84 lakh.

Ten parties had applied for the work, of which two were rejected. One party had been backlisted earlier by the council while the other did not have adequate experience.



Exemption of house tax: MC to lose Rs 1 cr
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, August 24
With the state government having exempted all houses of less than 100 sq yards in area from house tax, and all buildings, except commercial buildings, from fire tax, the Panchkula Municipal Council will lose almost Rs 1 crore from its annual income.

Official sources say that after the Chief Minister had recently announced the exemption from these taxes, the Urban Development Department had finalised the draft proposal and sent it to the government for issuing a formal notification.

The MC here had also worked out the details of the exemptees. It had also found that though a large number of people stood to gain, they would lose almost 30 per cent of their annual revenue because of these exemptions. The annual budget of the MC was Rs 7.34 crore, of which Rs 3 crore came from house tax and Rs 70 lakh as fire tax.

MC officials said that though they would lose Rs 1 crore as revenue, it would not have much affect on the functioning of the council, as the council was already plush with funds. “Even after this exemption, we will have sufficient funds at hand for carrying development works, “ says an official.



Applications sought from Gurkhas
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 24
The British Government has invited applications for compensation from Gurkhas residing in India who had been held Prisoners of War by the Japanese during World War II.

According to a statement issued by the British High Commission in India, applications in this regard can be sent to the Far East Prisoners of War (FEPOW) Office in Kathmandu. The scheme, announced in November, 2003, is applicable to Gurkha soldiers who had served with the "old" Indian Army during World War II and were citizens of Nepal in 1951, when the peace treaty was signed between the Allies and Japan.

The FEPOW office will function in Kathmandu until the end of 2005, by which time it is believed that eligible Gurkhas would have applied. Arrangements would be made to deal with any subsequent enquiries. FEPOW office teams will interview applicants in India as and when required to verify their antecedents.



Retain abolished booths: Senators
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 24
The abolition of voting booths for the graduate constituency of the Senate for elections in September, carried out in violation of the decision of the Syndicate, dominated the last session of the present Senate at Panjab University here today.

The issue was raised by Mr Ashok Goyal who alleged that the Registrar, Dr Paramjit Singh, also the returning officer, had abolished many existing booths from the list of 270 booths approved by the Syndicate at its meeting.

He claimed that the final voter lists were not available with the election office even though the elections were only a few weeks away. Mr Goyal said the booths in Mandi Gobindgarh, Palampur, Dharamsala, and numerous other places had been done away with despite there being over 200 voters in the area, as is the requirement laid down by the university. He demanded that the list of booths should be amended and the booths on the list of the Senate elections held in 2000 also should be incorporated. He urged the Vice-Chancellor, Prof K.N. Pathak, to take action against those who had violated the decision of the Syndicate and the university calendar.

Prof Pathak agreed to the restoration of the abolished booths and said the revised lists would be circulated free of cost.



Dead pilot’s brother seeks fresh search for bodies
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 24
The brother of the pilot of an AN-12 aircraft which crashed 35 years ago in Himachal Pradesh wants the IAF to launch a fresh search for the remains of the aircraft and its passengers.

Mr H.S. Sahni, a city resident whose younger brother Flt Lt H.K. Singh was piloting the ill-fated aircraft when it went missing while on a sortie from Leh to Chandigarh on February 7, 1968, said the discovery of some remains by a trekking team a few days ago had revived hopes of the bodies being found.

A trekking party from West Bengal had stumbled upon skeletal remains, a regimental badge and aircraft wreckage, believed to be that of the missing An-12, on the Dakka glacier in the Spiti valley last week. Ruing that the Air Force had failed to resume the search, which was abandoned last year, he said after reading reports about the remains being found, he had contacted an officer on the phone in this regard and would also write to them to take up the search again.

Last year, trekkers had found the skeletal remains of a jawan, Beli Ram, and some parts of the aircraft. Beli Ram’s remains were sent to his village for the last rites. The Air Force had launched a search but called it off after a few weeks due to inclement weather.

“If Beli Ram’s body and currency notes could be found intact after 35 years, there is hope for more bodies being recovered,” he said. Ruing the IAF’s lack of interest in recovering the wreckage and bodies, he said the IAF should have resumed the search in May or June when the weather conditions were favourable.

Saying that no one from the IAF had contacted or spoken to him since last year, he fears that the weather conditions might turn unfavourable soon.



Fun City guard electrocuted
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, August 24
Gurjit Singh (19), security guard with Surya Fun City Limited, got electrocuted to death while pumping out water from a pond in the Wonder Water section of the park, located on the Panchkula-Barwala highway in Daffarpur village, this afternoon.

According to the police, Gurjit Singh had been working with the company for the past over two months. He was electrocuted when flushing out water with the help of a water boosting pump from an overflowing pond.

Gurjit Singh was holding the pump while Mr Brijesh Kumar, foreman with the company, switched on the pump. This led to the electrocution of the guard. Gurjit Singh was rushed to a private clinic in Ramgarh where he was declared brought dead.

The body was sent to Civil Hospital, Rajpura, for a post-mortem. The police has booked owners of the Surya Fun City Limited, Gurbaksh Singh and Kanwaljit Singh, for causing death by negligence.



Octroi staff assault supermarket owners
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, August 24
Two owners of a supermarket and their worker were allegedly assaulted by staff members of an octroi contractor at Dhakauli village on the Zirakpur-Panchkula road, this afternoon. The octroi men also smashed the windowpanes of the supermarket.

Mr Vijay Kumar and his son, Mr Vikas Kumar, owners of the Sunrise Supermarket, located adjacent to the railway level crossing at Dhakauli village, were reportedly attacked by over 10-12 armed octroi collectors.

The problem started when Shamaaru, servant of the shopkeepers, was carrying some goods and crates of soft drinks in a rehri to a hotel from the supermarket and the octroi men stopped him for not paying octroi charges for the goods to be sold.

The octroi men allegedly thrashed him and took away his rehri along with goods. The supermarket owners came to know about the incident after Shamaaru returned and narrated the incident to them. In the meantime, about 10-15 persons reached the shop and argued with the owners over the issue.

Mr Vikas Kumar and his son told Chandigarh Tribune that the persons were armed with weapons and sticks and smashed the glasses of their shop. “They attacked us with sticks and iron rods leaving both my son and me injured. The octroi men also thrashed our servant Shamaaru and snatched Rs 10,000 from him,” said Mr Vikas Kumar.

Meanwhile, the shopkeepers and other people of the area assembled and managed to detain an employee of the octroi contractor. They handed him over to the police.

Mr Sant Lal, octroi contractor, said, “The boys had indulged in a scuffle over a minor issue. We are holding a meeting with the shopkeepers and the matter would be solved at our own level,” he claimed.

No case has been registered till late in the evening.



Illegal exchange case: foreign bank accounts traced
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 24
The Crime Branch has reportedly got details of the foreign bank accounts from which money was remitted into the Indian accounts of the arrested illegal telephone exchange owners.

The account details have given a boost to investigation to prove that illegal exchange owners were operating in collusion with foreign private operators by-passing security monitoring and local licenced operators.

The police today traced Rs 8.5 lakh remittance into the account of V.P. Mohapatra and Naresh Kumar Gupta in an HDFC bank branch in Panchkula.

The Crime Branch also recovered nine new mobile connections of the exchange run by Mohapatra and Naresh Gupta. With this recovery, the police has taken possession of 25 separate mobile connections from them.

Sources in the police said that the police might have possibly known the route of the money transferred with specific names of the persons who sent the money. However, when contacted , Crime Branch in charge K.I.P. Singh refused to comment.



Cash, jewellery stolen
Our Correspondent

Mohali, August 24
Cash and jewellery, worth about Rs 70,000, were stolen from a house in Phase IV here today.

Mr K.S. Saini, who works in NIPER, said that the theft came to the notice of his wife, Ms Sukhwinder Kaur, when she came back home around 3 pm. His wife was working as a lecturer in Government Senior Secondary School, Morinda.

When she came back she saw the door of the house open. His wife thought that the maid must have come for the work. But when she entered the house she saw her purse lying in the corridor. On entering the bedroom, she found that the metal almirah had been broken and clothes were lying scattered all around. The chest of the almirah was broken and the thieves had decamped with jewellery worth more than 55,000 and Rs 15,000 in cash.

Mr Saini said the matter had been brought to the notice of the police.


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