C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Mini-truck cleaner found murdered
Injured driver yet to give details
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
A cleaner of a mini-truck was found murdered and the driver injured near the Piccadily roundabout today.
The body of Inderjeet from Mansa was found the from the area near the Tata 709 PB-03D-7081 on the slip road heading to the Markfed office in Sector 35.

The driver of the mini-truck, Buta Singh, also from Mansa, was near the body when a team from the Sector 36 police station reached the spot. He had injuries on his throat, which seemed to have been inflicted with a sharp-edged weapon.

The police questioned Buta Singh, who identified himself but did not give any details. He was sent to the PGI for first aid.

The police has recovered a cemented slab and its splintered pieces from driver’s cabin in the truck. A blood-soaked knife was also recovered from the dashboard of the vehicle. The blood-stained slab has been sent for forensic examination, the police said.

The SHO, Mr Jagbir Singh, said Buta Singh was questioned but did not give any details.

The police is working on the theory that a fight between the driver and the cleaner might have resulted in the murder of Inderjeet and injuries to Buta Singh.

The police also found burnt grass near the body. The same grass was found in the truck also. The police has sent the ash and partially burnt grass for a forensic opinion.

The panes on the driver’s side have blood stains.

The police has recovered two blood-stained trousers and two blankets from the driver’s cabin. The police control room got information about the body from the nearby petrol station.

An injured Buta Singh reached the petrol station around 9.30 an wrapped in a blanket. The police has also recovered Buta Singh’s blood-stained shirt from the spot.

The family members of the cleaner have been informed. 



Crowds swell at Agro-Tech
ITC, MCX sign MoU on rural marketing
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Visitors at the Jammu and Kashmir stall at the CII Agro-Tech-2004 in Sector 17, Chandigarh, on Sunday
Visitors at the Jammu and Kashmir stall at the CII Agro-Tech-2004 in Sector 17, Chandigarh, on Sunday. — A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh, December 5
It was an exceptionally hectic day for the organisers of Agro-Tech - 2004 in the Parade Ground where the visitation figure crossed the one lakh mark by this evening. As crowds swelled, the stall managers put their best foot forward, attending to farmers and foreign delegates alike.

There was an unusual rush of foreign visitors, including a 20-member Italian delegation led by the Italian Deputy Minister for Agriculture and Forestry. Also present were high-profile guests like Mr Antonio Armmellini, Ambassador, Italy; Mr Donnilo Anwar, Ambassador, Indonesia; Mr Nick Naryalie, Counsellor, Indonesia; Mr Hans Johr, Corporate Head of Agriculture, Nestec Limited, Switzerland. Representing Hungary was Mr Clive Pegg, MD, Proagro Seeds, while Deputy Minister, Australia was present with her team. Also in attendance were officials from agriculture departments of Nepal and the Netherlands.

In the poultry section, the National Egg Coordination Committee kept busy promoting eggs. Its egg-eating contest entered the second day. The final prizes will be given tomorrow once the competitions in various age categories are over. At the Circus Ground where agri services are being offered, farmers enjoyed e-chaupals the most. The next best thing for them was the food counter at the VIP entrance. Most of them were happy that the organisers had not kept the menu “glamorous”. There was enough traditional stuff like “Amritsari kulcha”, “chana bhatura” and “pao bhaji” to choose from. Late in the night, the wine-tasting event at the CII became a great hit.

On the technical front, the highlight of the day was the coming together of ITC’s e-chaupal and Multi Commodity Exchange (MCX), which promise to change the face of rural marketing in India by bringing futures trading to the farmers’ doorstep. The MoU that the giants signed today will spell prosperity for farmers by fetching them the best price for their produce. The market is said to have a potential of generating business worth Rs 3,000 crores per annum. Present on the occasion were Mr Sivakumar, Chief Executive, Agri-Business, ITC Limited, and Mr Joseph Massey, Deputy Managing Director of MCX, who signed the MoU today.

The tie-up will benefit various villages in the country in a phased manner. Mr Sivakumar told The Tribune that the first phase would feature disbursement of information of the futures market across 5,000 e-chaupals in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and some parts of Andhra Pradesh. These e-chaupals covered about 31,000 villages and had already benefited over three million farmers. Gradually the whole country would be covered.

As for the direct benefit to farmers, Mr Sivakumar said they would be able to take advantage of the MoU immediately. “To start with, they will be able to access the current global prices for their produce through ITC’s e-chaupals and the MSX network. There will be no charges for this information, which will help the farmers realise the best price for their produce in the local markets. In the second phase, they will be able to trade on the futures market and finally they will be able to make delivery at the e-chaupal warehouse network, which is existing.”

As the results of this MoU unfold, rural marketing will be in for a major revolution. In business terms, the tie-up means much. As Mr Sivakumar reasoned, “We estimate that around 20 per cent of the crop size will be routed through the futures market. This works out to Rs 3,000 crore per annum in states where e-chaupal presently has a network.”



Favourable response to Kisan Goshtis
Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
Harbeant Singh, an old farmer of Malwa belt, had a question. He wanted to know why the yield of his wheat crop had gone down by almost 20 per cent after he went in for zero tillage process.

"The land is the same, 19 acres. My labour and investment are also the same. But, why has the yield from my field gone down this year? Is it because I adopted the method of zero tillage?" he asked experts from Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana.

The scene of this was one of the kisan “goshtis” being organised at the Circus Ground as part of the ongoing Agro Tech 2004, being organised by the CII.

These goshtis are interactive sessions, replete with television clips, where experts, both government as well as private sector, interact with farmers and try to remove their doubts.

Started during Agro Tech 2002, these kisan goshtis have been witnessing huge participation from farmers.

A farmer, Mr Gurnam Singh of a village near Patiala, stated that he was attending his third session of the day as he wanted to know more about some subjects.

His question on how to stop the wheat crop from turning yellowish due to a disease started a chain of similar questions.

"Last time, I attended one such goshti and implemented some steps that the expert told me to. I benefited a lot and that is why I am back," he said.

"Basically, with most of farmers not in a position to go to PAU or private sector experts for their everyday problems, they seize to this opportunity and try to get as much knowledge as possible," explains Vishal Rawat of agriculture-centric publication Agriculture Spectrum. Mr Rawat is closely associated with these goshtis.

One of the major issues that has been dominating proceedings of these goshtis is lack of proper marketing facilities for agriculture produce.

Farmers ask the experts why government agencies don't do much about improving the marketing system of farm produce. The "failure" of contact farming in Punjab also sometimes crops up during discussions.

Such is the interest among farmers for these sessions that groups of farmers actually request the organisers to discuss an issue other than what is being discussed.

For example yesterday, some farmers wanted to see a video clip about the steps needed to increase the yield from milch cattle.

Yet another wanted to know the latest techniques in organic farming. The cultivation of Jatropha, a medicinal plant that is used for manufacture of bio-diesel, farmers were told, can be more successful in Haryana than Punjab. The reason, they were told, is that the plant is grown on wasteland.

Says Dr Manjit Singh, who has been deputed by PAU to attend these sessions, "These farmers have a lot of questions which they ordinarily don't ask. They also have a lot of demands, which we cannot do much about."

As for the issue raised by Mr Harbeant Singh, he was told that his soil should be got checked.



“Diet” basmati rice for diabetics launched
Tribune News Service

Visitors to Agro-Tech 2004 at the Parade Ground try out the freshly launched first-of-its-kind diet variety of rice meant for diabetics
Visitors to Agro-Tech 2004 at the Parade Ground try out the freshly launched first-of-its-kind "diet" variety of rice meant for diabetics. — Tribune photo by Manoj Mahajan

Chandigarh, December 5
Agro-Tech 2004 has been about many interesting launches. A major one among these is the launch of diet rice, especially developed by a Haryana firm for those suffering from diabetes.

Labeled "Maharani", this high quality basmati rice has a moderate glycemic index (GI) which is medically rated as "consumable" for diabetics. Among other big launches by the same firm have been the pesticide-free variety of rice which was recently exported to Japan to the tune of 36 tonnes and the special quick-cooking variety of brown rice already being rated as a fine anti ageing agent.

As for Maharani rice, it is being touted as the only diet variety of rice fit for consumption of diabetic patients across the world. Recently developed in Karnal, this variety is based on the scientific knowledge cultivated into a fine product. The process involves slow breaking down of lipids into sugar when consumed. The product GI when tested came out to be 52 which is rated moderate and healthy for intake by diabetic patients.

While the stall attracted thousands of visitors eager to test the new variety of diet rice, the firm owners told The Tribune that they were now trying for certification of the diet rice variety by the Food Drug Association of the USA. "Certification for diet rice for diabetics is not available anywhere in India. We have nearly received an approval from FDA, USA which has expressed its willingness to test our new product and recommend it," said Mr Sandeep Nain from the firm who said diet rice was developed after many queries came from rice importers.

About the pesticide-free basmati rice variety recently developed and exported to Rajasthan, Mr Nain said the production followed World Trade Organisation (WTO) direction, banning export and import of rice and other commodities with pesticides.

The third variety of rice developed by the firm is the quick cooking one called Begum Brown rice. A complete nutrition diet, brown rice takes only 12 to 15 minutes to cook as against 40 to 50 minutes which normal rice varieties take. This rice, besides being good for those suffering from high as well as low cholesterol limits, is also a good anti ageing agent.



IT boosting agriculture productivity: experts
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
Information technology has contributed positively towards boosting agricultural productivity in the country. The farming community in the country is today aware of the global agriculture scenario and the innovative technology available in the field of agriculture. IT has further helped farmers learn about concepts such as automation of irrigation systems, green house horticulture management systems and fertilizer-control systems. This was the consensus that emerged at the international conference on IT in agriculture, held today during Agro Tech-2004.

Giving an overall perspective, Mr M. Srinivasan Rao, Head, New Initiative and IBD, ITC Ltd, described the two big problems of the 21st century as maximizing food supply and preservation of the environment and natural resources. India has to transform traditional means of information and use IT to empower scientists, extension workers and all participants of the value chain. “IT can also provide customised solutions in the field of agriculture,” he said.

Talking about the use of modern technology, Dr Sesha Sai, Scientist, National Remote Sensing Agency, said, “Indian remote sensing satellites have the capabilities to improve the agricultural production of the country and the National Remote Sensing Agency under the Department of Space has been carrying out projects of national and regional importance. With planned future programmes using IT as a tool, improvements catering to the needs of the country will be met in an even better manner,” he added

Giving information on modern IT tools, Dr Siva Subramanian, Senior Manager, JIF RMSI, said, “The Geographical Information System, the Global Positioning System and remote sensing are the tools that assist in agriculture. They are helpful in crop type mapping, crop health monitoring, agro-transportation and first-hand information regarding various crops. Satellites can also prove useful in agriculture marketing done through the GPS and the GIS,” he said.

According to Mr P.H Shivkumar, Managing Director, NCDEX, “Exchange technology provides longer trading sessions, quick response time and low cost of operations. Future prices available on the exchange are enabling farmers to decide the choice of crops to sell using the exchange's electronic platform and IT is helping revolutionise the way agricultural produce is being marketed in India.”

Talking about the problems faced by farmers, Mr Kundan Kumar, Coordinator, Membership and Marketing Services, Indian Agri-Business System, said, “Lack of wealth among stake holders, crisis of leadership, poor infrastructure and market linkages are big problems faced by the farmers.

Innovations such as advanced kisan call centers are using IT to help the farmers,” he added.



Italy for cooperation in agri-business
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 5
“There is a tremendous scope for Italy and India to cooperate in the agri-business sector and the captains of the Italian industry have come here with me to the Confederation of Indian Industries’ (CII) Agro Tech — 2004 for this,” said Mr Paolo Scarpa Bonazza Buora, Deputy Minister for Agriculture and Forestry, Italy, here today.

Talking about the synergy between Italy and India, Mr Buoro said “Like India, Italy’s experience in agro-foods dates back to ancient times. Both countries have the same farm structures. India has an added advantage with its huge manpower base and this can be a tremendous asset in developing Indo-Italian collaboration.”

Talking about Italy’s overseas presence, Mr Buoro stated, “Everyone talks a lot about China in Italy. But I think we cannot forget India when it comes to the development of agriculture. We want to work together to increase the common wealth,” he added

Listing out the sectors where there is a tremendous potential of trade between Italy and India, Mr Buoro said, “There are many fruits like papaya and mango which we want to be exported to Italy, both in raw and processed forms. Italy has tremendous strengths in wine, agriculture products and other products linked to ancient Italian knowledge and we would like to export them to India.”

Talking about the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Mr Buoro said, “For reasons that are not just economic but also political, Italy will like to have a dialogue with India and act as a facilitator between India and the European Union in the WTO".



Great demand for Indian food: Naware
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
India is among the eight countries recommended for investment in the retail sector in the world and has tremendous long-term potential. It isn't the Indian consumer alone who is spending the money. The trendy modern retailer is also in a mood to fast spread its wings. This was stated by Mr Ravi Naware, Divisional Chief Executive, ITC Limited, while talking to TNS on the sidelines of a conference on `` Positioning Indian Food Retail for demand growth'' at the CII here yesterday.

Currently, the share of organised modern retailing at 2 per cent of the total retail industry, which is projected to grow to 5 per cent. "With an increase in the number of nuclear families, changing social environment and increase in the income, the sector has tremendous potential,” said Mr Naware. "There is great demand for Indian food in view of the exposure of foreigners to this food. As a result, the main stream retail chains like Selfridges and Sainsburry in UK; COSSCO, Wholefoods and Giants in UK; Metro in Germany and Carrefour in France have started stocking these products to cater to the growing demand,'' he said.

However, the quality of food products being supplied, affordability and their relevance have to be kept in mind to create the retail pull by creating consumer demand in the market. Indian manufacturers have to go in for various certifications and quality control tests to meet the norms of the Food and Drug Act of these countries for export purposes. Similarly, ready-to-eat vegetarian products have created a good market abroad, he added.

Mr Naware said such is the craze that firms were upgrading quality and scaling up operations to secure a global chain supplier's tag. But the government also needs to take some more initiatives in this regard to enable India to truly emerge as hub for global retail chains.

"New technologies is the need of the hour to tap the huge potential that exists in the food sector, said Mr Luca Montanari, Director, Unitech, Italy, while laying emphasis on high quality sorting of agricultural produce.

Mr S. Ramesh, General Manager, Retail Strategy, BPCL, also believes that India will be an attractive market for any food retailer in the coming years and talked about the trend of all big petroleum companies having alliance with major food retailers.



Trees axed in front of gurdwara
Bipin Bhardwaj

Zirakpur, December 5
Over 10 trees along the Zirakpur-Patiala highway in front of the Gurdwara Singh Sabha, Akali Kaur Singh, here today were cut down. This was allegedly done in connivance with certain officials of the Punjab Forest Corporation.

The trees, in the front of the gurdwara, were allegedly felled without any permission from the authorities concerned. A majority of the trees which have been chopped off were quite healthy and young.

Sources revealed that the trees were felled following the “directions” of a top forest official who resides in the Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat area. It is alleged that the forest official had promised the committee that he would get the trees which were obstructing the entrance to the gurdwara removed.

A team of over 11 employees of the corporation axed seven healthy eucalyptus trees in front of the gurdwara under the supervision of two forest guards — Gurpal Singh and Pritpal Singh.

The forest guards on the duty claimed that the department has ‘marked’ 90 trees, including eucalyptus, sheesham and some others, which would be felled. The trees, which have been marked for felling, were along the Zirakpur-Ajijgarh stretch of the Zirakpur-Patiala highway, they claimed.

When asked about the age of the trees marked for felling, they expressed their ignorance but claimed that only dead or decaying trees were to be axed. They said were the gurdwara committee had obtained permission for the felling from the department.

Mr Karamjit Singh, District Forest Officer, Patiala, expressed his ignorance about the felling. He, however, said the Forest Corporation authorities should have the records of the trees, marked for felling.

Officer-bearers of the gurdwara committee claimed that they had submitted an application to the department seeking the felling of trees outside the gurdwara sometime ago.



Domestic help raped; 2 booked
Our Correspondent

Panchkula, December 5
A 16-year-old part-time domestic help was raped several times by two persons at whose house she was working in Sector 15. The matter came to light when the victim got pregnant and approached the police in this regard.

The victim was working as a domestic help in house No 2983 in Sector 15. Devi and Parkash, who were living in a rented accommodation on the first floor of this house, raped the girl one day when she came there for work. Later, both threatened the victim that they would kill her if she reported the matter to anybody. Besides, they said they would falsely implicate her in a theft case. Thereafter, the duo raped the hapless girl several times, the police said.

After some time, the girl visited a doctor complaining of pain in her abdomen. Her medical examination revealed that she was pregnant. She reported the matter to the police. The Sector 20 police registered a case of rape on her complaint against Devi and Parkash. No arrests have been made in this regard.



Yash Chopra for free exchange of films between
India, Pakistan

Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
Yash Chopra may not attach much significance to his presence at the first Indo-Pak Punjab Games in Patiala today but his visit will certainly bear purposeful results for Bollywood. For the first time, a representative of the Indian film industry has been extended a special invitation to attend a function where top leadership of India's and Pakistan's Punjab is converging for the sake of friendship.

Well aware of the sensitivity of the occasion, Yash Chopra said he was not proceeding towards the venue of the games with great expectations. He, however, did not restrain himself when stressing the need to open up the film industries of the two countries that have a shared history, culture and concerns.

He also said that the Pakistan authorities should consider releasing Indian films openly just as Indian authorities were doing. Recently "Khamosh Pani" opened in India to welcome responses.

"When there is a talk of opening up trade on every front, why leave out films? It is time we considered exchange at the level of cinema," said Yash Chopra, hoping to hold informal talks with Chief Minister of Pakistan Punjab Mr Parvaiz Elahi in Patiala.

Yash Chopra was on a flying visit to Chandigarh enroute Patiala this afternoon. Fresh after a delayed Indian Airlines flight, he was escorted into the Punjab CM lounge at the Chandigarh Airport by Mr Harpreet Sandhu, Senior Advocate General Punjab and Mr Anil Puri, Yash Chopra's long-time distribution partner.

Sparing some time before proceeding to Patiala, Yash Chopra shared notes with The Tribune, saying, "Free trade in cinema would be a welcome step by all means. I will meet the visiting Pakistani delegates in Patiala where history is about to be created."

Making it a point to thank the Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh for his interest in "Veer-Zaara", the film maker also seemed gratified over the statewide entertainment tax exemption which he recently offered.

As a film that hinges on Indo-Pak friendship, "Veer-Zaara" has done well across the border too. It will also be screened for the visiting Pakistani delegates at Patiala on December 8.

For his part, Yash Chopra said the Indian cinema was in for a major change insofar as themes were concerned. "The future belongs to projects that laud peace and harmony. Stereotypes have already ceased to work. We now have new writers who are brimming with fresh ideas. We need to be positive in our approach," said the film maker who generously features Punjab's exuberance in all his flicks, including the recent "Veer-Zaara."

He added, "I have done my best to emphasize peace, taking care that my film reaches out to people not through the elements of conflict or bashing but through pure emotion. I, however, still nurse a desire to shoot in Pakistan. I was refused permission when I approached the authorities for "Veer-Zaara". While the film forms a fine backdrop for Indo-Pak friendship, its creator still wishes it was openly released in Pakistan markets.



PWD plays havoc with city air
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
Preserving environment appears to be nobody’s concern in the city. How else can anyone explain the burning of four-wheeler tyres for the melting of tar on the busy Dakshin Marg. Hundreds of vehicles carrying officials pass by, but such incidents as this, clicked by The Tribune lensmen, are overlooked because it is not their job to interfere in the working of another department.

This time too, the culprit is the Public Works Department that is re-carpeting the National Highway — 21, which assumes the name Dakshin Marg, while passing through Chandigarh. Smoke with large carbon content was visible on Sunday evening to those travelling on this road. Officials of the department directed labourers to use warn-out tyres to ignite the fire to melt the coal tar quickly.

The spot mentioned is located close to the iron market in Sector 29.

The melted tar was for the use of re-carpeting this road, leading to Zirakpur. Labourers causing environmental pollution said they had been directed to do so by their supervisor. But they were unable to name the person.

Tyre rubber has large carbon content and emits highly toxic smoke when burnt. Besides, the carbon particles that are emitted can spread in a fairly vast area, causing respiratory disorders among human beings and animals. Carbon particles are reported to be carcinogenic. One of the emitted substances styrene is a benzene derivative and is a suspected human carcinogen.

Another one, butadiene, is known to cause cancer in laboratory animals. Besides, extender oils and carbon black emitted from burning tyres are highly toxic.

On paper, stringent anti-pollution laws are available, but these are violated with impunity. The anti-pollution laws include the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981. The offence committed by an individual under this Act is punishable with a three-month imprisonment or a Rs 10,000 fine, or with both.

Accordingly, Section 41 of the Act holds the head of the department guilty and is liable to be proceeded against and punished, when a government department causes air pollution.

The Environment Protection Act, 1986, too, safeguards the environment and violation of the Act is punishable with imprisonment for a term, which may extend to five years or with a fine, which may extend to Rs 1 lakh, or with both.

The Act is violated if any person carrying on any industry, operation or process discharges or emits, or permits to be discharged or emitted any environmental pollutant in excess of such standards as may be prescribed. Burning of a tyre is a violation of this Act.



Shiv Sena (H) to protest against seer’s arrest
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 5
Condemning the arrest of Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati of the Kanchi Mutt, the president of Shiv Sena (Hindustan), Mr Pavan Kumar Gupta, said here today that he, along with other members, would gherao the Prime Minister office on January 10.

Stating that the seer's arrest was a result of personal enmity, he alleged the Congress had always had an anti-religion policy. Mr Gupta was addressing a press conference in Mohali today.

He said the letter of the Prime Minister to the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister about the arrest of the Shankaracharya was useless since it was the Andhra Pradesh Government that had arrested him where the Congress was in power.

He said the Congress had never allowed any religion to flourish independently in the country and the arrest of the seer would lead to a united protest against the Congress government.

He said the nation was feeling hurt because of the treatment meted out to a religious head and the Congress would have to face the consequences.

He demanded that a separate policy regarding religious men should be formulated by the government so that such acts could not be repeated.



VHP men stage dharna, court arrest
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
Activists of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and other Hindu organisations courted arrest in Sector 18 here today to protest against the false implication of Shankracharya Swami Jayendra Saraswati of Kanchi Kaamkoti Peeth.

As many as 143 activists led by the president of the local unit of the VHP, Col Dharamvir (retd), and Mahant Budh Nath Jogi, sanchalak, Guru Gorakhnath Sidh Hanuman Mandir, staged a dharna at the Sectors 7, 8, 18 and 19 chowk before courting arrest.

Addressing the activists, Col Dharamvir said the parishad had started an agitation all over the country to press for a CBI probe into the whole affair.

Others who spoke on the occasion included Mr K.G. Goswami and Mr Prem Shammi, chairman and vice-president of the Hindu Parv Mahasabha, Mahant Budh Nath.



Elahi positive on Indo-Pak ties
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
The Punjab Governor and UT Administrator Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), and the Pakistan Punjab Chief Minister, Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, had a close interaction at the former’s residence over lunch today. Mr Elahi reportedly told General Rodrigues that the confidence-building measures between the two nations were being well-received in Pakistan and these would help improve ties between the two countries.

The Governor appreciated the dialogue, economic cooperation and social-interaction between the two Punjabs. He said both countries had common interests and it was the need of the hour that positive initiatives were taken to sort out issues for establishing lasting peace in the region.

Complementing the efforts of Capt Amarinder Singh and Mr Elahi regarding exchange of cultural and sports events, General Rodrigues said the process must continue to promote understanding between the peoples of both regions.

Mr Elahi expressed the hope that this kind of cooperative endeavour would bring the peoples of India and Pakistan closer. Other members of his delegation accompanied Mr Elahi to the lunch at Punjab Raj Bhavan. After a joint press conference with Capt Amarinder Singh, Mr Elahi will fly back to Lahore tomorrow.



Elahis visit Sector 9 shops
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 5
The family of Pakistani Punjab’s Chief Minister Parveiz Elahi today skipped city sight-seeing to shop designer cloths and bags from famous shops in Sector 9.

Nine members of Mr Elahi’s family, inlcuding his wife, daughter, mother and daughter-in-law, had earlier planned to visit the Sukhna Lake and the Rock Garden, but because of delayed arrival of Mr Elahi from Rajasthan, they had little time between their departure from the airport and the arrival of Mr Elahi. So they chose to visit shops in Sector 9.

The Elahis, accompanied by a woman Superintendent of Police of Pakistan, first went to Fab India, but did not purchase anything these. They spent around 10 minutes in the shop.

Later, they visited Ritu Kumar,s store and made purchases. They refused to talk to mediapersons despite entreaties.

The Elahis remained in the store for about 25 minutes.

Later, they left for the airport to attend Indo-Pak Punjab Games being held at Patiala.



Ghaggar bridge reopens
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, December 5
The Kalka-Ambala highway has been opened for light vehicles. Some heavy vehicles too were allowed to cross the Ghaggar bridge by police personnel deployed at the site to regulate the traffic.

Flouting the direction from the Building and Roads wing of the Punjab Public Works Department, tractor-trailers of many farmers from nearby villages were permitted to cross the bridge.

Cops were lenient with farmers of nearby villages, who were cut off from their fields for the past three days due to the repair work on the bridge, despite the directions of the Punjab PWD authorities today.

Warning boards relating to the speed limit of vehicles on the bridge, have also been erected.

Heavy vehicles were not allowed on the Kalka-Ambala highway for the fifth consecutive day today.

The highway was closed for vehicular traffic following “depression” of the third span of the bridge on Tuesday.



Akali Dal (Ravi Inder) to take out procession on Dec 7
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 5
Members of the Akali Dal (Ravi Inder) will take out a procession in and around Chamkaur Sahib on December 7 to observe 300 years of martyrdom of the Sahibzadas of Guru Gobind Singh.

This was decided at a meeting of the party held at Khalsa School, Amb Sahib Gurdwara, Phase VIII, here today under the chairmanship of Mr Jaspal Singh, general secretary of the local unit.

Other than the procession, religious darbars will be held at Khalsa School, Ropar, on December 8. Conferences and “Dhadi” darbars will be held at Chamkaur Sahib from December 15 to 20. It was also decided that a drive to recruit new members for the party would be started after December 25.

Those at the meeting condemned the SGPC decision of not allowing the descendants of Bhai Mardana to perform at the Darbar Sahib, Amritsar.

Those who attended the meeting today include Dr Jagir Singh, Mr M.S. Sodhi, Mr Surjit Singh Musafir, Mr Jora Singh Bhullar, Mr Harmeet Singh Chilla and Mr Mohinder Singh Walia.



Sangharsh panel to fight for plot allotments
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 5
More than 300 members of the Allotment Sangharsh Committee met here today and decided to fight for an early allotment of their plots in Sectors 76 to 80 in Mohali. The committee has been formed from the 3,900 allotees who had been given letters of intent by the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) for allotment of plots in these sectors in 2000, but have not been given the physical possession of plots.

It was decided that a memorandum listing their demands would be presented by the committee members to the PUDA minister, the PUDA Secretary and the PUDA Chief Administrator.

According to a press note issued by the president of the committee, Mr Sucha Singh Kalour, 3,950 plots of various sizes in the new sectors were approved and a draw of lots was held in March 2001. The successful allotees had also paid 25 per cent of the allotment price to PUDA and it was promised that physical possession of the plots would be given by the end of December 2002. But so far the plots had still not been allotted.

Mr Sharanjit Singh, general secretary of the committee, added that some parts of these sectors had already been given to the Radha Swami Satsang and Housefed, Punjab. Mr Bhupinder Singh Somal, organising secretary, said the allotees were suffering for no fault of theirs, but due to a court case between the farmers and PUDA. He added that some of the allotees had been living in rented accommodations and were suffering on PUDA’s account.



Workshop on environmental awareness held
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 5
The Jan Shikshan Sansthan (JSS) organised a one-day workshop on environmental awareness, safe drinking water, need and relevance of management and conservation of water here yesterday. About 250 students of various vocational courses like welding, electrician, home management, beauty culture and health care, computers, along with village panchs and sarpanches, participated in the workshop.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Dildar Khan, director in charge of the sansthan, stressed the role of the community, particularly the youth, in conserving of water resources and soil. He said conservation of soil was possible only if community took management of soil and village ponds seriously. He said it was the responsibility of each user, whether living in rural or urban area, to use water with greater responsibility as there was no substitute of water.

Mr Anand Mohan Sharma, programme officer of the sansthan, stressed on proper sanitation to prevent pollution of water sources. He explained about various water-borne diseases like hepatitis-A, typhoid, cholera etc. He said excessive use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides was also contaminating the ground water. 



CHB body holds rally
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
The Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) Residents’ Federation today held a rally to press for its long-pending demand for the regularisation of “need-based” alterations carried out in flats and giving ownership rights to general power of attorney (GPA) holders.

The demands were made in a memorandum submitted by the residents to the Administrator. Such rallies are being held in each sector every month.

Chandigarh Vikas Manch councillors Jatinder Bhatia, Vijay Rana, Kamla Sharma, Harjinder Kaur, Congress Councillors Subhash Chawla, Balraj Singh, Geeta Chaudhary, Shyama Negi and Sohan Lal Vaid also attended the meeting.

It was announced that a large rally would be heldwhich would be attended by MP Pawan Bansal and former MPs Satyapal Jain and Harmohan Dhawan.

The federation urged the Administrator to take up the issue on priority basis.



In awe of Ganga and Himalayas
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
Having finished his 50,000-km-long padyatra which started from Dwarka in Gujarat, H.G. Jaya Vijay Dasa Prabhu, arrived at Hare Krishna Dham, Sector 36-B, here to shed light on the ancient cultural heritage of India. He is here to conduct a seven-day-long slide show on “Wonderful Himalayas and Our Merciful Mother Ganga”. The show will conclude on December 8.

Born to Italian parents in California, Prabhu spent 14 years in the motion picture industry as a projectionist and film technician. In 1980, he left the USA and undertook a five-year-long journey of 35 countries across the globe. During this period he first met Hare Krishna devotees in South Africa, visited India for the first time in 1982 and started practising bhakti-yoga.

Then he started work on his book entitled, “Our Merciful Mother Ganga,” featuring 500 pages which include 40 original paintings and over 100 photographs. This book is an extensive scriptural account of how the celestial Ganga travels throughout the universe. The book took four years to complete.

Talking to The Tribune, he stated that after being brought up as a Roman Catholic, he led a “fun life” in the late ‘60s. “It stressed more on man-woman relationships, drugs, rock “n” roll which virtually corroded our souls. Inspired by the ancient Vedic culture of India I adopted the path of spiritualism when I attended a spiritual programme organised by ISKCON to mark Janamashtami in 1982, propagating the sacred message from Srimad Bhagwadgita,” he said.

Replying to a question he said the simplest and most practical way to achieve the goal is the devotional service of Lord Krishna, regardless of our material position. “We must survive one way or the other. We have to only change our consciousness from within towards the Lord. This gives us peace and prosperity, “ he said adding the Himalayas command a great respect and adoration worldwide.

“The Vedas were compiled by Vyasadeva in the Himalayas. The Ganga and the Yamuna have originated from the Himalayas. An unbroken chain of seers lived and are living in ashrams, caves, forests and on snow-capped mountain peaks to attain salvation. All saints and the Aryan race from whom the Indian people got their ancesters belong to the Himalayas. The Himalayas’ external boundaries touch upon seven countries. The tallest mountains in the world are the Himalayas and the tallest peak is the Mt Everest. It’s all so fascinating,” he said reflectively.



Project Vulture on the anvil
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 5
Project Vulture — a unique project to save the endangered species of white backed and long billed vultures — is finally beginning to take shape. Other than encouraging captive breeding of these endangered vultures now, the government is now planning to create pockets of natural habitat for vultures so that they can be released in the wild later on.

The implementation of a holistic approach to save the vultures — once the most common predators in the eco-system — was discussed by experts from the Royal Society for Protection of Birds (RSPB), UK, and senior officials of the Wildlife Wing of the Forest Department on Friday. Other than this, the expansion plans of the Vulture Breeding and Disease Diagnostic Centre at village Jodhpur near Pinjore, and setting up of a second breeding centre at village Seonthi near Kurukshetra were also discussed in Friday’s meeting.

The two-member delegation of Dr Debbie Penn and Dr Richard Culthbert from RSPB, along with Dr Vibhu Prakasah, Principal Scientist of Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), said that they would first expand the centre at Pinjore, by adding more aviaries at the centre, and getting more vultures for captive breeding.

As of now, the centre has one colony aviary, two breeding aviaries, one holding aviary, eight nursery aviaries and eight quarantine aviaries, and 41 vultures in captive breeding (21 white backed, 19 long billed and one Himalayan griffan species of vultures). Experts from RSPB and BNHS say that they propose to have a total of 100 aviaries here, and 150 vultures, before they set up the second vulture breeding centre at Seonthi in Kurukshetra. In Seonthi, too, they propose to construct 100 aviaries and start captive breeding of 150 vultures, that are caught from the wild.

The Chief Wildlife Warden, Haryana, Mr K.L. Manhas, proposed that suitable habitats should also be created now for releasing vultures after five to six years of captive breeding. He proposed that seemal trees (Bombax Ceiva), which was the natural habitat of vultures, be planted in protected forest areas, along roads and canals. He said that these trees have vanished over the years because of its poor economic value.

Other than the two breeding centres in Haryana, two other vulture breeding centres are coming up one in Himachal Pradesh and another in West Bengal.

Avian experts say there has been more than 95 per cent decline in population of the two species of vultures during the past decade in the Indian subcontinent alone.



Annual day celebrations of Malayalee Samajam
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 5
Today was a special day for hundreds of members of the Malayalee Samajam, Mohali. Malayalees working and living in Mohali and Chandigarh for years were brought face to face with renowned Malayalam film actor and Kerala MLA, Ganesh Kumar today as part of the sixth annual day celebrations of the samajam.

Other than an open interaction with Ganesh Kumar, the celebrations included a cultural performance by a professional team from Kerala — Drisya Kala Vedi. The cultural events included Mohiniyattam, Bharatnatyam, Oppana and Maragam Kali.

Speaking on the occasion, Ganesh Kumar talked about the state of affairs in Kerala. He pointed out that heavy politicking in the state had led to its downfall that was visible in many fields. He said the quality of education being imparted in the state had fallen and the number of educated unemployed had sharply increased over the years. He added that a large number of government-run companies were also facing closure due to certain policies of various political parties.

He appreciated the efforts of the samajam in setting up Kerala Bhavan in Phase 11 here as an identity of the Keralite fraternity. He said this would give an opportunity to the local people to learn about the art and culture of Kerala.

The president of the samajam, Mr Benny Thomas, welcomed the guests. He brought out the challenges of setting up of such an organisation in Mohali. He requested all Malayalees residing in the region as well as other Keralite organisations that were making parallel efforts to come forward and associate themselves with the project.

He also urged the Punjab Government to start a direct train link between Punjab and Kerala. He pointed out that the Keralites living in the North were facing a large number of hardships in travelling to their home state. Moreover, tourists, who wanted to travel to Kerala that had been recognised as one of the top tourist destinations of the world, had to first go to Delhi to go further to Kerala.

Dr P.V. Sudhakaran, Chairman, Land and Building, said Keralites living in the region needed to unite for ensuring completion of the bhavan. project. Dr John V. George ADGP, Haryana, was also present on the occasion.

Giving details of the Oppana dance form, Mr Benny Thomas said it was a new form of dance being presented in North India. About 15 women perform this dance to entertain the bride on the eve of the marriage day. Lyrics of the music are from songs called Mappila Paatu.



CAPART starts consultative meetings
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
The regional office of the Council for Advancement of People’s Action and Rural Technology (CAPART), an autonomous body under the Ministry of Rural Development of the Government of India, has initiated a series of consultative meetings with NGOs and state governments.

The aim of these meetings is to ensure the participation of the people in development. According to source's CAPART will address some of the present major concerns and work out methodologies and strategies in this regard.

The meetings will end with a national-level consultation meeting on December 28 at the Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi, which will be presided over by Dr Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, President of CAPART and Union Minister for Rural Development.



Senior citizens form forum
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
A large number of senior citizens formed the Forum of Senior Citizens in Education at a meeting in Panchkula, near here, today.
According to Dr S. Kumar, general secretary, the forum will endeavour to provide a new direction to education and undertake social and educational activities with a special reference to the deprived sections of society and youth.

The forum will also offer suggestions to the Haryana Government on various issues concerning education.

It was decided to start a "non-formal education centre" in one of the slum areas of Panchkula for dropouts in the 6-13 years age group.The main emphasis of the activities of the forum would be quality education to beneficiaries in collaboration with other organisations.

Meanwhile, Mr S.S. Kaushal was elected president of the forum.



Dr Kesar Singh ‘Kesar’ dead
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
A noted Punjabi critic and poet, Dr Kesar Singh “Kesar” (64), today died in the PGI after a prolonged illness, family sources said.
He breathed his last at around 1030 pm. He is survived by his wife, Dr Jasbir Kaur, a son and a daughter.

He had been suffering from a dysfunction in his kidney.

He had been Chairman of Panjab University’s Punjabi Studies Department and a member of the Syndicate.

Dr “Kesar” had to his credit two popular books, “Sahit Khoj Te Sahit Alochana” and “Punjab Galp Ate Varg Sangharsh,” among others.

The body will be taken for cremation to Sector 25 from H. No. 1395, Sector 49-B (Pushpak).



Stray bull on road: 6 have narrow escape
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
Six vehicle drivers today had a narrow escape when five of them collided with each other when a bull suddenly came in front of them on the Sector 36 and 37 dividing road.

An hour after the accident of five vehicles, a Honda City driver saved himself by dashing the vehicle into the road divider. The bull sustained injury in the leg.

One of the drivers of the vehicle said the bull suddenly ran across the road. The two vehicles following it escaped with minor damage but an Indica car suddenly stopped. The vehicle following it rammed into the car. The two Zen cars, last in the “queue”, suffered major damage.

The eye witnesses said there were around 15 bulls near the accident site.



Gurbani kirtan on Dec 7
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 5
A gurbani kirtan samagan will be organised at the park opposite the Sector 70 gurdwara on December 7 to observe the 300 years of the martyrdom of the Sahibzadas of Guru Gobind Singh. The kirtan samagam will be held from 4 pm onwards.

Prominent jathas of Bhai Harjinder Singh from Srinagar, Bibi Bajlit Kaur Khalsa from Talwara, Bhai Manjit Singh from Mumbai, Bhai Manjit Singh from Pathankot, Bhai Iqbal Singh from Ludhiana and Bhai Baldev Singh from Bulandshahr would perform kirtan during the occasion.

The darbar will be organised by the Gurdwara Singh Sabha, Sector 70 and Shabad Guru Prachak Sanstha International.



Seminar on VAT held
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
The Tax Law Study Circle organised a seminar on value added tax(VAT) here yesterday. Since VAT is to be implementated with effect from January 1,2005, the seminar at this stage will prove to be beneficial for the authorities concerned and the general public, the president of the study circle, Mr Kulbir Jain, said.

A critical analysis of the provisions of VAT was dwelt upon by Mr Alok Krishan and Mr Jagjit Singh, an advocate. A consensus on certain "people-friendly" proposals was arrived at during the seminar, which have been sent to the Punjab Government for the modification of the forthcoming VAT.



Magistrate held for firing
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
An Executive Magistrate and Tehsildar of Jalandhar here today allegedly fired a shot in the air in the busy Sector 18 market. This created a panic for a while.
The Executive Magistrate, Mr J.S. Sadhrao, was arrested and his .32-bore Webley and Scott revolver was seized by the police.

Mr Sadhrao claimed before the police that the gun went off accidentally. The Sector 19 police station has booked the Punjab official under Section 336 of the IPC (endangering lives of others by a negligent act). He was arrested and sent for medical examination to find out if he was drunk when the incident took place.

According to a cop at the police station, however, Sadhrao was not drunk.



Tenant booked for assaulting landlord
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 5
The local police has booked a tenant who allegedly trespassed and assaulted his landlord last night at Dadu Majra Colony.
Satish Kumar, the landlord, filed a complaint to the police that his tenant Madan Lal, along with another person Kala, forcibly entered his house and assaulted him.

He alleged that Madan Lal threatened to kill him and took away Rs 10,000 from his house. A case under Sections 452, 448, 380, 506 and 34 of the IPC has been registered against the accused in the Sector 11 police station.

Scooter stolen: Mr Satish Kumar of Hallo Majra village reported to the police that his scooter (CH-01-V-3888) was stolen from in front of the Punjab Roadways workshop, Phase I, Industrial Area, here on November 19. 



Truck hits scooter, 1 killed
Our Correspondent

Panchkula, December 5
A speeding truck hit a scooter from behind near bus stand in Ramgarh today. Roshan, who was riding pillion on the scooter, succumbed to injuries in the hospital.

The police said the driver of the truck (HR-37-4398), Sanjiv of Ganderda village in Una district, fled from the spot after the incident. The scooter was coming from Barwala side.

Rajinder (45) and Roshan (49), both of Ramgarh, received serious injuries and were rushed to the General Hospital, Sector 6. Roshan dead in the hospital, while Rajinder was referred to the PGI.

The police has registered a case of rash and negligent driving against the truck driver, who is still at large.



Two held in cheating case
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 5
The police here has arrested two persons wanted in a cheating case registered against them. According to the police, the persons are Balbir Singh, a resident of village Nagamahika Hoshiarpur village, and Pagrekh Singh, a resident of Ludhiana district. The two have been booked under Section 420 of the IPC.

Pedestrian injured: A pedestrian, Satnam Singh, was injured when hit by a bus. The bus driver ran away after hitting him. The police has booked the driver, Sukhdev Singh, on a complaint from Satnam Singh.


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