C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


HUDA offers provisional draw
Decision taken to avoid interest burden
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 7
Concerned over the burgeoing interest burden on Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) because of delay in holding draw of lots for plots in Mansa Devi Complex (MDC) here, it is now proposed to hold a provisional draw.

The decision was taken at a meeting of HUDA officials held at Chandigarh this evening. The HUDA officials proposed to hold a provisional draw of plots for the 537 plots in Sectors 2 and 6 of MDC, with draw to be held in the ratio of three allottees for each plot. This means that 1611 provisional applicants would be selected through the draw and now, and the remaining 32,064 applicants could subsequently be issued refund for their earnest money.

The proposal had been mooted so as to deal with the interest burden on HUDA, after it had made crores of rupees as profit on the earnest money deposited by applicants.

The proposal, informed senior HUDA officials, would now be sent to Legal Remembrancer (LR) for examining the legality of holding a provisional draw. When approved, a notice for holding a provisional draw would be published after final approval from the state government.

As many as 33,793 applicants had invested Rs 465.103 crore with HUDA for allotment of residential plots in Sectors 2 and 6 of MDC since April 2004. The money, deposited as a Fixed Deposit in a bank, was getting HUDA a collective monthly interest of around Rs 2.60 crore (at 7 per cent rate of interest, Rs 31.90 crore was the collective annual interest), or a daily interest of around Rs 9 lakh. So far, HUDA had netted a profit of over Rs 28 crore as interest on earnest money of the applicants.

The housing scheme had offered 165 residential plots in Sector 2 MDC, and 372 plots in Sector 6 MDC. As many as 5943 applications had been received by HUDA for the plots (of size two kanal, one kanal and 14 marla) in Sector 2 MDC, and 27,850 applications were received for plots (of size 1 kanal, 14 marla and 10 marla) in Sector 6 MDC.

However, after a Naya Gaon resident filed a petition “ Save The Sukhna” in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, restraining HUDA and Chandigarh Administration from any urbanisation in the area, HUDA was unable to hold the draw of lots till the time this case was decided by the Court.

It was thus that HUDA had decided to allow the applicants to withdraw their money in November last year, pleading that the draw could take a long time to come through. But two months since HUDA issued the notice, giving the option to applicants to withdraw the money, and only 118 applicants (from a total of 33,793 applicants) had availed the offer. 



Wind, rain lash region
Tribune News Service

A rainbow forms in the sky over the trees at Rose Garden in Chandigarh on Monday.
A rainbow forms in the sky over the trees at Rose Garden in Chandigarh on Monday. — Tribune photo by Pradeep Tewari

Chandigarh, February 7
High velocity winds and mild rains swept the region, making pleasant alterations in the existing weather system.

To begin with, the winter chill stood blunted by the windy conditions that prevailed throughout the day. Where the day temperature had been consistently falling over the past three days, it rose partially today, making the day warmer.

Though apparently the weather seemed cold, technically it was warm as the maximum temperature went up by two degree as compared to yesterday.

The Met office recorded a day temperature of 19.4 degree today. Yesterday the maximum temperature was 17.6 degree as against 20 and 21.4 degree yesterday and day before yesterday, respectively.

Sudden changes in the weather system have been attributed to upper air cyclonic circulation over Central Pakistan adjoining north west Rajasthan and south west Punjab.

Met officials further said today that western disturbance over Himachal Pradesh and adjoining Jammu and Kashmir and another one over north east Afghanistan adjoining north Pakistan had caused changes in the weather. They said rainfall and windy conditions were likely to prevail for the next day as well.

Over the past 24 hours, Chandigarh witnessed 10.8 mm rainfall. Nawanshahr recorded a high rainfall of 27 mm, followed by Ludhiana with 14.6 mm, Ambala with 11.6 mm, Hisar with 10.5 mm and Patiala with 10.2 mm.



7-hour power cuts in Sector-35 market
Due to drive against encroachments: SE
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
Commercial street in Sector 35 in the city has been experiencing seven-hour power cuts for the past fours days. Seems unbelievable but it is true. Hotels, eateries, banks and electronic shops have been facing the cuts.

It has led to a crash of business as electronic shops have reported a decline in sales. Bank officials say they are helpless, the only option is generators.

Worst hit are small offices or even a few government offices in the area. They have invertors which do not hold good for seven hours.

In the same row are located at least three prominent bakeries and coffee shops. All are hungry for power.

The Superintending Engineer, Mr V.P. Dhingra, says nothing is wrong with the power supply system. "It is just that we have been asked by the Municipal Corporation to shut down power supply as their teams are carrying out a drive to remove encroachments from the road behind the row of hotels in Sector 35-B and 35-C".

Cables from power pillars leading up to the commercial establishment are underground. The machines of the MC can come in contact with the wires and the driver can get electrocuted, explains Mr Dhingra.

Hoteliers are probably facing a unique problem. People coming in for functions or guests staying in rooms demand heating due to the cold conditions. Also the various machines used in cooking do not run. All this is not possible without power.

A electronics dealer said customer walked off after seeing that a proper demonstration of music systems, televisions, DVDs was not possible. He said the power department could have made some temporary arrangement of power before embarking upon any such drive. Now the entire row of shops was suffering due to the fault of a few.

Another suggestion of the owners in the area has fallen on deaf ears of the power department. The owners had suggested that the cut could be in the area where the MC team was working at given point of time. It was pointless to cut off the entire area in one go whereas the removal of encroachment was being carried out in a small area. Segregation of power supply was possible.



Education board suspends 2 clerks for indulging in fraud
Our Correspondent

Mohali, February 7
Two clerks of the Punjab School Education Board, working in the examination wing were today suspended for misappropriating the examination fee of 16 students belonging to Fatehgarh Sahib district. They will also be issued a chargesheet.

The two suspended clerks, Manjit Singh and Surinder Singh, work in examination branch III which deals with plus two classes. They were suspended on the recommendation of the Controller of Examinations, Mrs Sukhwinder Kaur Saroya.

The examination forms of 16 students sent through Government Senior Secondary School, Manaili, Dhanola, bore a fake attestation. The stamp of the district manager of the text book sales depot, Fatehgarh Sahib, on the forms was also fake and these forms had not been entered in the challan book. The required fees in this regard had not been deposited at the depot. The receipts, which were issued on November 23 last year in connection with the deposit of the fee, were also fake. So much so that even the address mentioned in the forms of all 16 students was similar.

It is alleged that the fraud came to light after the two employees had a quarrel with each other and Manjit Singh took out the forms which were lying in the draw of Surinder Singh and brought these to the notice of the authorities concerned.

Mrs Saroya then asked two assistant secretaries of the examination branch, Mr Sukdarshan Singh Bajwa and Mr Sardool Singh, to probe the matter. it had been pointed out by them in the report that both the clerks were involved in the alleged fraud and efforts were made to help students to appear in the 12th class board examination.

Mrs Saroya gave a personal hearing to both the clerks but both of them kept leveling allegations against each other.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the board, Prof Harbans Singh Sidhu, conducted a surprise check to see the attendance of employees in the conduct and the examination wing in the evening. Professor Sidhu said that four employees, including two superintendents, were found absent. he said that an explanation would be called in this regard.



Centre ‘forcing’ small units to close down
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
“Industrial environment in respect of the small-scale sector is being vitiated by a planned strategy of the Centre to bring this sector to the brink of extinction”, says Confederation of Indian Pharmaceutical (small-scale).

“It could not be a matter of chance that firstly the Patent Act was introduced curbing the expansion of the industry, which was followed by mandatory application of amended schedule ‘M’, the provisions of which have been straight lifted from the United States Federal Drug Agency (USFDA). Not content with these stifling provisions, the government proposed a set of rules related to the trade margins of the industry, which, though have not been enforced as yet but are under active consideration.

“The last nail in the coffin of the SSI industry was hit through the January 7 notification of Maximum Retail Price (MRP)-based Central Excise Duty. All these events during the last five years are an indication of the intentions of the government to be follow the US pattern of industry, where there is no room for small scale sector.

All these observations were made by members at an emergency meeting of the representatives of small scale pharma industry affiliated to the Confederation of Indian Pharmaceutical Industry (small scale) in New Delhi yesterday. They met to discuss the lethal effect of various laws being enacted by the Union Government, particularly the MRP-based Central Excise Duty.

Talking to The Tribune here this afternoon Mr Jagdeep Singh, president, Drug Manufacturers Association, Mohali, said that the implications of notification of January 7 levying Central Excise Duty on retail price of medicines instead of hitherto practiced norms of payment of Central Excise Duty on ex-factory price has brought the whole pharma industry in general and the small scale industry in particular to the crossroads, where they have no option except either to close shop or move to some tax free zone.

Small-scale units account for nearly 50% of total drug production in the country and a majority of the rural demand of medicines is met by SSI sector by supplying low cost medicines.

“Since the financial viability of SSI units after applications of this notification is threatened, most of these would close down, causing unemployment,” said Mr Singh.

Further, infrastructure worth thousands crores, which was recently created to comply with norms of amended schedule ‘M’ would, go down the drain. Prices of medicines are most likely to go up due to the impact of MRP-base Central Excise Duty. Availability of medicines shall be affected particularly in the rural areas.

“This notification levying excise duty on 65% of retail price is neither consumer friendly nor revenue friendly. We appeal to the Government of India to keep this notification in abeyance till the whole issue is examined afresh. Small units can help bring down prices by ensuring availability of quality medicines at affordable prices,” he added.



Army Aviation Corps set for great UN feat
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
The Army Aviation Corps is set to make a mark in international peace-keeping operations. For the first time, men and flying machines of this corps will proceed overseas to operate under a United Nations mandate.

It is learnt that five Cheetah helicopters from an Army Aviation squadron operating in the western desert, along with aircrew and support personnel, will be leaving for Congo shortly. According to sources, they are expected to be deployed in about two months.

Sources said that the aircraft were in the process of being modified. It includes retrofitting the aircraft with night vision equipment and other avionics like the global positioning system. They would also be re-painted in the UN colours.

The Cheetahs, which are the lightest aircraft in the Indian inventory and are always in the limelight for their role in Siachen, are expected to be operated on aerial recce and communications duties in Congo.

Sources said that the Aviation Corps personnel would be deployed to Congo on a rotational basis so that a greater number of men got the opportunity to serve overseas.

Army officers said that India had a five-year commitment with the United Nations for undertaking peace keeping operations in Congo and the Indian Army was contributing a bridge-sized formation comprising 2850 troops.

The brigade comprises troops from 10 Bihar, 22 Grenadiers and 3 Mahar along with mechanised elements and support elements from other arms and services. About 1,500 troops have already been deployed during the past two months. The Indian contingent, commanded by Brig Vikram Puri, has the challenging task of establishing conducive conditions in Eastern Congo, which is tense after recent between local Mai Mai militias and Rawanda-backed Hutu rebels. Besides the Indian troops, several thousand UN peacekeepers are assisting Congo authorities in a campaign to disarm local militias.

The Army has been participating in UN peacekeeping missions since 1950 and has contributed over 70,000 troops for 39 UN Missions. But it has so far depended upon the IAF for aerial support elements. The IAF has also sent six Mi-8 choppers to Congo.

Besides ferrying troops and supplies, the IAF has also contributed helicopters for UN Missions. IAF Chetaks', MI-8s and Mi-35 have been in the news recently for their role in such missions.

Recently, an IAF Mi-35 gunship had to be repaired and retrieved under difficult conditions during a peace-keeping operations and a team from Chandigarh had accomplished the task. 



Passing Thru

Vivek  Shokeen
Vivek Shokeen, young tennis player

You have reached zenith of glory by being number one in the under-18 group in tennis. How do you feel about it ?

Success and winning is not on my mind when I go to play game. I just want to enjoy the sport. Also, I feel that during a game, all that matters is stamina, agility and perfection. Success is just byproduct of this effort.

Why did you choose tennis over the other games?

The proximity to a tennis court near my aunt’s house in New Delhi spurred me to take this game. Since then I have been focused and the environment has been congenial to prompt me to pursue my game. I took to tennis as fish takes to water.

How do you maintain a balance between your studies and game ?

It is all about time management. I divide my schedule between my two activities and keep a balance by assessing my performance in both. I devote four to five hours everyday to game.

What brings you to Chandigarh ?

I have been to the city so many times and always feel jubilant among the people here. This time I have come here to participate in the Grade 3 ITF Junior Tennis Tournament at CLTA Stadium, Sector 10 Chandigarh.

— Dipika 



Chandigarh Calling

Lunch is what the city discusses the most — at least for two hours. What if the city does not match up to the political and cultural clout of Kolkata, the City Beautiful has one thing in common with the city. Babus — bureaucrats and senior police officers — are commonly found on lunch break between 1 and 3. In fact people seem to have forgotten the actual lunch timing in offices. With their bosses home, junior staff of different offices choose to loiter around in markets. A large number of people say it would be cheaper for the government if lunch was provided to all in offices, instead of official cars being used to carry officers home and back. The productive time lost on extended lunches and damage to the environment is even heavier. Some say the lunch break is the time when employees pick up their children from schools. And most of the times, official vehicles are used for the purpose.

Roundabout siesta

So what the state government employees have to work from 9 am to 5 pm? They can still enjoy their winter siesta — if not at home. Lush green gardens and roundabouts near Sector 5 of Panchkula are the spots where one can find them. As soon as the clock strikes 1.30 pm, hundreds of employees posted in various boards and corporations make a beeline for the gardens and roundabouts. For almost two hours, these gardens prove perfect retreat to those craving for a short nap in the winter sun.

Brave hearts

Rickshaw-pullers constitute a sizeable chunk of city’s migrant population, who are leading a life of hardship. Driven by adversities, these lesser mortals leave their homes and land in the city in search of home and livelihood. They eke out a living by ferrying people and earn a meagre sum ranging from Rs 25 to Rs 100 a day. A fair share of their earning goes to their homes and a very little is left to meet an exigency. Life has not improved much for them with time. They continue to spend their nights on the corridors of markets year after year. (See picture)

Unfair MC!

The enforcement staff of the administration and the MC, Chandigarh, seem to have adopted a pick-and-choose policy for removing encroachments here. While it has gone overboard in removing encroachments from corridors of different markets, those on roadsides seem to have gone unnoticed. Scores of roadside “phariwalas”, barbers and tea stalls continue to dot roadsides. Only time will tell how fair the authorities concerned actually are.

Seasonal vendors

Makeshift chicken and tomato soup stalls, spotted in markets in winter, are nowhere to be found. Rising temperatures in January and falling demand, it seems, sent them all packing a little too early. Besides, they were not expecting lady luck to smile anymore and closed down the business for the season. However, with a drizzle here and a pour there, the winter has staged a comeback. The demand is up again as office-goers are on the lookout for soup vendors. The always-on-the-boil soup suddenly has takers but no vendors.

Candlelight show

The Pracheen Kala Kendra was not prepared to welcome the unassuming Sant Balbir Singh Seechewal on Sunday. Just when the function organised in his honour was to start, there was complete confusion at the venue. With power outage, darkness took control and the generator refused to oblige for a good half an hour. The worst was the repeated appeal the organisers of the function made to kendra caretakers. Even as they laboured to put the generator back in place and get the show rolling, Baba Seechewal sat in darkness, wearing a smile on his face and wondering why the show should stop for some technical error. It was only after 30 minutes of toil that sense finally prevailed among the organisers. The show started in candlelight, much to the delight of Sant Seechewal.

Good way to work

Late night parties are becoming popular among businessmen for business promotion. For one they can unwind themselves from their busy schedule and secondly can share their ideas with their fellow businessmen. And if lucky, they end up finalising a deal too. They also gauge the pulse of the city and what is in demand. Another reason being they can also establish rapport with the social circuit. Combining business with pleasure is a good way to work.

Rain game

Whenever city plays host to a international tennis meet at CLTA Tennis Stadium, Sector 10, rain god has to shower his blessing. For the past three years, almost every ITF meet — whether for juniors or seniors, ITF Futures or ATP Challenger — has been affected by rain. It has led to rescheduling of most of the meets. On the very first day of the ITF Grade 3 meet on Monday, overnight rain delayed morning matches. Evening matches had also to be delayed due to the rain. This calls for an urgent need for an indoor tennis stadium in the city on the pattern of SAAP Indoor Tennis Stadium at Hyderabad ,where Hyderabad-2005 WTA Tennis Meet is being held.

Taking on bulls

A philanthropist like Naresh Thapa can serve as an inspiration to most to come forward and help the needy. He might not be a millionaire, but he has a heart of gold. Greatly disturbed by the tsunami tragedy recently, he devised a novel, and truly brave, way to come to the aid of those affected. He has forwarded a request seeking permission to fight bulls at an event organised to urge people to contribute for the tsunami affected. He has written letters to the Governor, Adviser to the UT Administrator, Home Secretary, Deputy Commissioner and MC Commissioner. He is an employee of the MC working in the enforcement wing. He says: “I will fight with four bulls, one by one, and will be responsible for any injury inflicted on me,” the letter reads. One brave man indeed! — Sentinel



Tibetan students carry out relief work in tsunami-hit village
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
Five Tibetan students from Chandigarh have developed an emotional stake in one of the villages devastated by the tsunami. Called Karikartukupam, this one is lesser known than Nagapattinam because not many people from relief groups or the media landed here.

These five Tibetan friends returned with a very heavy heart, feeling the pangs of sorrow which separation from family brings.

Naturally for these Regional Tibetan Youth Congress (RTYC) volunteers who lived with the villagers for about 25 days, life would never be the same again.

Talk to them and they recount the horrors of tragedy, making sure that faith makes an occasional appearance in the otherwise languid conversation. “The villagers were tormented and shocked. It took us a great deal of emotional energy to put their lives back on rails. To begin with, we gave them 20 boats fitted with engines. They entered the sea on January 17, a day after we landed in Chennai. And they entered on borrowed hopes,” said Tensing Norsang, President, Chandigarh chapter of RTYC, who led four of his friends to Karikartukupam recently.

The group first went to Chennai with eight monks of the Namgyal Monastery, Dharamsala. The monastery donated 20 boats for the fishermen of Karikartukupam, which hardly had any NGO presence when the volunteers landed there.

In fact, Tenzing, along with his colleagues Copsong, Phuntsok, Chorden and Chokdup, first surveyed the entire tsunami-hit belt. It was only after a thorough reconnaissance of the area that they camped in Karikartukupam, where not a single relief operation was being carried out.

“The first step was buying food packets for the victims. The second was installation of liveable camps. Before we erected plastic camps for them they were all huddled together in a tattered cloth camp. Infections were rampant, so was disease,” said Norsang, who returned to Chandigarh yesterday, after running a relief camp for almost a month.

The other significant task which the volunteers took up was building a makeshift school for children and providing new books for students who have to take their Class X and XII exams.

“We distributed books in three villages, including Karikartukupam. The other two were Salvam and Mayurkupam,” Norsang said.

Interestingly, the volunteers did not allow language barriers to impede the progress of relief work at Karikartukupam. They used signs and gestures to communicate with children and locals, helping them with everything from erection of plastic camps to provision and preparation of hygienic food.

Among the best gifts which the visiting volunteers gave to their friends at Karikartukupam were toys for children. Such toys were distributed in all the 203 families which once lived happily in this coastal village.

However, much of the relief work in Karikartukupam was undertaken under the care of RTYC volunteers and Namgyal Monastery monks who are still camping in Chennai to ensure a smooth flow of support, both emotional and moral.



Charisma of Yogi Harbhajan Singh lives on
Nirupama Dutt
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
The charisma of late Yogi Harbhajan Singh, who set up the first-ever nursery of Sikh religion in the US and brought into the Sikh fold a phenomenal number of Americans, Latin Americans, Japanese and Africans, has outlived him. This was evident today at the function of the release of a book in Punjabi called, 'Singh-Yogi', co-authored by Shameel and Balram.

At a function organised at the Shri Guru Gobind Singh College by the publishers, claims and counter-claims were made by Sikh scholars on the placement of the Yogi in the context of the history of the Sikh religion. Speaking on the occasion, Sikh scholar Prithipal Singh Kapoor said that he was a Sikh missionary who had contributed to the religion by bringing many Westerners into its fold rather than merely being a spiritual leader with a cult following. However, Ranbir Singh, older son of the Yogi, said that his father was a Sikh but not a Sikh missionary. "His mission was to make his followers live a better life," said Ranbir.

Co-author Shameel said that the greatest contribution of the Yogi, who passed away on October 6, 2004, was popularising Kundalini Yoga among the masses. It may be recalled that Yogi, who was earlier a Customs official with the government, had learned Yoga and he migrated to Canada as a yoga teacher in 1968. In the early seventies he moved to Los Angeles in the US and his first disciples were from among the adrift generation of the flower children or the hippies. Shameel added: "The Singh-Yogi was able to wean them away from drugs and intoxicants by giving them training in yoga as well as baptising them as Gursikhs. All spiritual leaders try to make their followers live a better life but in the methodology that he used he certainly proved himself a Sikh missionary.

Inderjit Kaur, the Yogi's widow, who was earlier to grace the function could not make it as she fell sick. The function was, however, attended by his sons and a number of American Sikh followers. The Yogi had set up a large self-sustaining ranch in New Mexico. He established several new age corporations in the areas of health and medicine, natural food and also a security service company with a view to giving employment to his followers and rehabilitate them. Besides, he set up a software company, a website called 'Sikhnet' and a new-age magazine called 'Beads of Truth'.

The Yogi had received recognition as a Sikh missionary first from the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee when late Gurcharan Singh Tohra was the chief. The book 'Singh-Yogi' is an attempt to assess the contribution of this charismatic spiritual leader.



Water blues in winter for Panchkula residents
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 7
With winter still around, residents of the township have already started facing water shortage.

Residents claim that the problem of low water pressure is plaguing even two and three storey houses here. The pressure, complain residents, is so low that water tanks atop such buildings are not being filled up.

Residents belonging to Sectors 4, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 18 and 19 and surrounding villages complain that they receive water supply for just three hours a day, which includes morning and evening hours.

Mr S.K. Nayyar, president of the Citizens Welfare Association, said they were getting water on first and second floors only till 7.30 in the morning.

“The problem generally persists during summer, but this time around the water supply is inadequate even during winter, when water requirement is generally low,” he said.

Mr Brajesh Gupta, a resident of Mansa Devi Complex, Sector 5, says even storing water for drinking had become a problem. “There is no action by the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) to make adequate arrangements for drinking water supply,” he rues.

Sources in HUDA said 10 new tubewells had been installed in various parts of the township recently, which include Mansa Devi Complex and Panchkula Extension.

It may be mentioned that the town relies for water on tubewells. About 110 tubewells have been installed for meeting the water requirement (27 MGD) of Panchkula.

HUDA officials say water supply in the township is enough to meet the requirement, while admitting that the water pressure is low.

With groundwater level in the township going down by eight to 12 feet each year, HUDA officials say they cannot install more tubewells.

It is learnt that as against the earlier water table depth of 150 feet, it had gone down to 175 to 250 feet.



EPF staff call on minister
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
A delegation of All-India EPF Staff Federation called on the Union Labour Minister, K. Chandrasekhar Rao, in New Delhi, and submitted a memorandum of demands.

According to a press note by Mr Vijay Sharma, secretary general, here today the main demands of the employees included the implementation of the organised accounts department scales to the EPF employees on par with other central government employees, finalisation of the cadre review committee report and filling of posts.

Regularisation of the bonus for the period of 1995-96 to 1997-98, conversion of existing LDCs and ad hoc UDCs as Social Security Assistants and doing away with the 5 per cent limit regarding the compassionate appointments were the other demands listed in the memorandum.

Mr Anirudh Rai, Central PF Commissioner, Mr ML Meena, Additional Central PF Commissioner, and Mr Rajasekhar Reddy, OSD to the Labour Minister, were present at the meeting.



Power boards' employees stage dharna
Swarleen Kaur

Chandigarh, February 7
Thousands of employees of electricity boards from all over northern India converged on the city on a call given by the National Coordination Committee of Electricity Employees and Engineers and sat in dharna at Parade ground, Sector 17, Chandigarh, in protest against the Electricity Act, 2003.

The workers from Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, Delhi, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh and Chandigarh participated to express their anger against the Electricity Act 2003.

Addressing the rally, General Secretary, Electricity Employees Federation of India, Mr B S Meel, said, "Under this Act, State Electricity Boards are being privatized. In the states where this Act has been implemented, people are paying increased rates due to hike in the cost of the power".

Mr B. S. Meel also said that they had already submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister, Mr Manmohan Singh, and now they were planning to meet the Union Power Minister Mr P.M. Sayeed, for their proposal. He said if their demands were not accepted, the federation would launch a nationwide strike on March 9, 2005.

Urging the UPA government to review this Act he said that if serious efforts were not made then the government would have to face serious consequences. Moreover, the Union Government was offering guaranteed profit of 16 per cent to private contractors of the transmission, generation, and distribution departments.

This will result in hike in the power rates of electricity. At present only 44 per cent of the population of the country have access to regular electricity supply, the remaining 56 per cent of the populace, specially those in rural areas, will be deprived of electricity for private contractors would only invest in the profit-oriented zones

Mr Y. D. Sharma, President, Delhi Power Generation Employee Association, said while on the one hand, the department was stressing voluntary retirement of employees, on the other it was appointing the retired employees for consultation.



Punwire staff hail Sun Group’s move
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 7
Employees of Punwire here have hailed the decision of the Sun Group, New Delhi, to buy the company and consider its revival. This was stated by union president Shahid Ahmed in a press note issued here today.

Stating that more than 500 former employees of company assembled yesterday at the Balongi barrier, Mr Shahid Ahmed pointed out that for many employees, Punwire was still their only hope for employment.

On February 4, the Sun Group deposited Rs 2 crore with the official liquidator, Punjab and Haryana High Court, as part of the Rs 12-crore bid for the company. On January 28, the court had stayed the registration of the sale deed of a part of Punwire sold to Chandigarh-based industrialists in December, 2004, by the official liquidator following a consolidated bid made by the Sun Group to buy the entire assets of the company.

The Sun Group has been asked by the court to deposit Rs 2 crore by February 4 and the next date of hearing of the case has been fixed as February 10.



MLA accused of shielding encroachers
Our Correspondent

Mohali, February 7
The Citizens Welfare Federation here has urged the Punjab Chief Minister to order a high-level probe into the failure of the authorities concerned to remove illegal colonies.

In a letter to Capt Amarinder Singh, federation president B.S. Tej said there seemed to be a deep-rooted conspiracy behind the non-removal of the unauthorised colonies. He said there was political interference in this regard. He urged the Chief Minister to stop Kharar MLA Bir Devinder Singh from allegedly acting against the public interest by such interference.

According to the federation, the illegal colonies existed in the Sectors 48, 49, 55, 69 and 71 and in the industrial area (Sectors 73 and 74). These colonies were mostly occupied by migrant labour. The federation said most residents created unhygienic conditions in the surrounding areas and some allegedly indulged in criminal activities. The PUDA authorities had made plans on several occasions to evict the encroachers on the government land worth crores of rupees, but it remained unimplemented due to political interference. He opposed the allotment of plots to such persons as they often sold these off and again encroached on land elsewhere.

Mr Tej said in his letter that in the case of Guru Nanak Colony in Sector 49, a plan was drawn up in 1995 to remove the colony. However, residents of the colony filed writ petitions in the Punjab and Haryana High Court which were later dismissed. Then another plan was made in 2003 for the removal of the colony, but at the last minute its implementation was stopped due to political interference.

Mr Tej said once again last year all arrangements were finalised by PUDA for eviction, but Mr Bir Devinder Singh wrote a personal letter on November 18 in this connection to the Housing Minister. The letter was presented by the minister in the Vidhan Sabha, Later, this letter was sent to PUDA which again brought the removal plan to a halt.

The federation president accused the MLA of siding with the migrant labour and ignoring the interests of the 2.5 lakh population of the town. He said by such actions the Kharar MLA had gone against the assurances given by the Congress.

He said the MLA should ensure cleanliness in the town by seeing to it that the unauthorised colonies were removed.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh told Chandigarh Tribune that though he had written to the Housing Minister in connection with the removal of Guru Nanak Colony, he was not opposed to the removal of illegal colonies. He only wanted that a rehabilitation package should be offered to those who were to be evicted. In many cases, he said, residents of such colonies had been living in the town for the past around 25 years and had contributed to its development.



Estate Office seals guest house
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
The Estate Office today sealed Himachal Palace, a private guest house in Sector 10, for allegedly violating rules.

The guest house owners had earlier declared that it had been closed. But it was found operational when an Estate Office team raided the guest house. The Estate Office was tipped off about the guest house by somebody.

This is the eighth guest house which has been closed for alleged violation of norms. Cases of others are pending in courts.

The Estate Office proposes to initiate action against 11 other guest houses in case they do not comply with the norms.

Cases of these guest houses are at various stages of litigation and the owners are being advised to get all formalities completed at the earliest.

There are 55 guest houses running in Chandigarh under the jurisdiction of the Estate Office. The Deputy Commissioner-cum-Estate Officer, Mr Arun Kumar, said that out of these 55 guest houses, 10 have got their plans sanctioned and conversion done. The other nine have got their plans approved and conversion done but some of them are still violating some norms which they should comply with immediately.

The Estate Officer further said that on Saturday four guest houses were sealed.

However, the Estate Officer has requested these guest house owners to contact the Estate Officer or Assistant Estate Officer in case of any difficulty regarding their conversion and plan sanction.



Police station sans shelter
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 7
The police station at Mullanpur Garibdass, a village less than 5 km from Chandigarh, has 48 villages an its jurisdiction, but the police here has been ‘stationless’ for almost an year now.

Policemen, including the SHO, sit in the open in the day on a small piece of land donated to them by the village panchayat. The accused also sit in the open. Since they cannot be put behind bars or handcuffed, two sentries are put on duty to sit next to the accused and keep watch on them.

At night, the policemen put to use two small rooms of a nearby government dispensary. These rooms are used as the police station’s maalkhana and record room in day and lock up and resting room in the night.

Last year in March, following court orders, the Mullanpur Garibdass police was forced to vacate the house it was using as a police station. For almost a month the police had not even land to use. During this period three SHOs were posted here one after the other but all of them asked to be transferred for lack of basic amenities, like having a place to sit.

“It is obviously not easy to work. When the last SHO, Ms Raka Ghira, came she brought the situation under control and requested the dispensary doctors to let them use these rooms. Following which the villagers got together and donated a small piece of land to the police. Then started the herculean task of getting funds to start construction and we have by now just managed to get the bare walls built,” pointed out Mr Arvind Puri, a resident of the village.

“We cannot get any funds for the construction of the station since it is not a registered police station. A police post was created here during the days of terrorism to tackle a dreaded extremist from this area, Jarnail Singh Jaila. Later, the presence of the police became permanent here,”related the SHO, Mr Bhagwant Singh.

Explaining the importance of the maalkhana and the record room, Mr Bhagwant Singh added that there was a small corner which was being used as the wireless room. “And this is our mess,” said Mr Bhagwant pointing to another corner where fire wood was being used on a chulha to cook food for the policemen and the accused.

When The Tribune team visited the police station, one of the accused who was under arrest for kidnapping another villager on his tractor, was being asked to help start a police Gypsy. The accused, driving the tractor, pulled the Gypsy with an iron cable. “Normally we have to dhakka start it. Now since we have a tractor why not use it?” quipped a policeman at the station.



Poor response to commercial sites’ auction
Only 23 out of 40 PUDA shops have buyers
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 7
For the first time in the past three years, the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) registered an unenthusiastic response to its auction of commercial sites in the township held here today.

Hundreds of buyers had, however, collected at the auction site to bid for four residential MIG built up houses in sector 70, all of which were lapped up within minutes, at five times the reserve price.

Out of the 40 sites advertised for auctions today, only 23 were sold with PUDA collecting Rs 6.44 crore , the lowest total in the past two years.

Buyers were not ready to shell out any money for PUDA’s large commercial sites in Mohali. There were no takers for either the shop cum flat (SCF) sites in phase 11 or the various single storey shop (SSS) sites in Sector 71, Phase IX and Phase X. The reserve price for the three SCF sites in Phase XI was Rs 86 lakh each. In the last auctions, these sites had sold for more than Rs 90 lakh each.

Similarly, all 10 SSS sites remained unsold. The reserve price for these sites in Phase IX was over Rs 35 lakh while in Phase X the reserved price of semi-industrial single-storey shops was over Rs 76 lakh. In the last auctions, two adjoining single storey shops in phase IX had fetched the PUDA Rs 85 lakh each.

Only a single SCF in Phase VII was sold through the day at Rs 1.58 crore, the highest bid of the day. However, the auction price was not, too much above the reserve price which was Rs 1.43 crore. A similar site had fetched PUDA Rs 1.79 crore during the last auctions.

PUDA was, however, able to dispose off a large number of its booth sites in various sectors. Booths in Sector 59 with reserve price of Rs 14 lakh each were sold at an average rate of Rs 18 lakh each. Booths in Phase VII with reserve price of over Rs 18 lakh each were sold at an average rate of Rs 24 lakh each. Booths in Phase IX with reserve price of Rs 12 lakh, each were sold at an average rate of Rs 15 lakh each. Booths in Sector 71 with reserve price of over Rs 20 lakh each were sold at an average rate of Rs 22.5 lakh each.

The biggest attraction of the day remained the four MIG built-up houses that PUDA had decided to auction instead of going through the whole process of draw of lots. Priced at Rs 7.4 lakh each, these MIG houses of size 1472 sq feet were sold at five times the reserve price. House number 2750-C was sold for Rs 31.10 lakh, house number 4504-A sold for Rs 32 lakh, house number 4517-C was sold for Rs 30.35 lakh and house number 4563-C was sold for over Rs 30 lakh. 



Bank staff protest against victimisation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
Award staff and officers of Central Bank of India held a demonstration in front of the Zonal Office of the bank in Sector 17 today evening. Employees of the Haryana unit of the Employees Union, affiliated to the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) were protesting against the victimisation of the union members.

Mr B.S. Gill and Mr H.S Vedi, general secretaries, of the Central Bank of India Employees, Union and the Central Bank of Officer Congress respectively urged upon the management of the bank to implement recommendations of committee of petitions of the Rajya Sabha under the chairmanship of Mr P.G. Narayan on matters relating to uniform treatment to the office-bearers of associations/unions. They said the bank management had overlooked these guidelines.

Mr Gill pointed out that violations in the posting of head cashiers in the bank had created resentment among members of INTUC unions. He demanded that anomalies in this regard be removed. Similar demonstrations were held by INTUC affiliated unions at all zonal centres of the bank across the country.



Fauji Beat
Redefine criterion for gallantry awards

The number of soldiers that we have lost in the proxy war in J&K since 1989 and in counter-insurgency in the North-East, is much more than our casualties in all wars after Independence. Most of the casualties suffered in J&K were in face of terrorists. Our officers and men displayed rare bravery in actions against these terrorists and made supreme sacrifice of their lives.

Capt Sajjan Singh Malik, from Rajasthan, was awarded Kirti Chakra (posthumously) on the Republic Day. After tracking a group of terrorists for a month in J&K, he ambushed them and killed two of them on July 7 last year. He was hit by three bullets. Ignoring his injuries, he motivated his men to prevent the third militant from escaping. Meanwhile, he closed in on him and gunned him down, before succumbing to his injuries.

The last war that we fought was in 1971. There are minimal chances of a conventional war in the prevailing scenario because of the nuclear threat.

A gallantry award can be won only in a war in face of the enemy. Does this mean that despite their exceptional bravery and sacrifice in action against the terrorists, the present generation of soldiers will never get gallantry awards? This needs rethinking.

Dental treatment

A retired Wing Commander from Patiala writes that the dental treatment provided at the Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) polyclinic, is elementary. Since the specialised treatment is free for ECHS members, those needing such treatment should be allowed to get it done at private clinics, he says.

According to Echs rules, the members get free treatment at empanelled hospitals. Only in an emergency, can a member go to the nearest private clinic, for which he has to pay. He can get the amount reimbursed later.

All government hospitals are empanelled for the ECHS members. In Patiala, it would be better to get oneself referred by the polyclinic to Rajindra Hospital, which, being a government hospital, will give free treatment but for the expenditure incurred by the hospital on any fixture, the payment will have to be made. Any such bill should be submitted to the polyclinic concerned for reimbursement.

Alternatively, the hospital should be requested to give an estimate of the cost of treatment. On submission of this estimate to the polyclinic, 80 per cent of the amount could be paid in advance.

For the remaining 20 per cent, the bill should be submitted to the polyclinic for reimbursement within 30 days of the treatment. However, if the same treatment is available at the Military Hospital, Patiala, the best option would be to go there.


There is nothing strange if both Army Commander Lieut-Gen S. Pattabhiraman, a paratrooper, and Chief of Staff Lieut-Gen P.K. Grover, of the Western Command, are from the Corps of Engineers. For, many times in the past, infantry officers have held these appointments at the same time.

The Corps of Engineers is an arm third in the order of precedence. The first and the second being the Armoured Corps and the Artillery, respectively.

It is said that a sapper is an infantryman first and then an engineer because he is also in the forefront to lay and lift defensive minefields, construct and clear obstacles and build bridges. Engineers also carry out patrolling like infantry to obtain engineering information.

At present, we have two engineers as the Army Commanders. The other one is Lieut-Gen Ram Subramanyam, GOC-in-C, Central Command. Several engineers have been Army Commanders in the past — Lieut-Gen P.S. Bhagat and Lieut-Gen J.S. Dhillon, to name only two. Gen Bhagat, a Victoria Cross winner in World War II, was the first Army Commander of the Northern Command. Gen Dhillon, Commanded the first Republic Day Parade in New Delhi.

Pritam Bhullar



Mohali flower festival postponed
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 7
The Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) here has postponed the two-day Mohali Flower Festival from March 5 and 6 to March 12 and 13. Additional Chief Administrator Mohali, Yashvir Mahajan said here today.

Stating that this had been done in view the Indo-Pakistan Cricket Test Match to be held from 4-8 March-2005 at Punjab Cricket Association Stadium, Mohali. The II Flower Festival by PUDA and the Municipal Council (MC), would be held at Silvi Park, Phase 10.

Various flower and plant competitions would be organised. These include a drawing/painting competition for different age groups; artificial flower making competition; ground/lawns/roundabout competition; display of potted plants competition and arrangement of flowers/bouquets/garland competition. Mr Mahajan revealed that nominal fee would be charged from the participants.

Besides, competition for schoolchildren in Bhangra, Giddha, Solo songs, group dance, solo dance, folk dance, classical dance etc. may also be organised.



CRPF man killed in mishap
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
A Head Constable (42) of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) today died when his cycle was allegedly hit by a motorcycle at the Hallomajra roundabout.

The victims Diwan Singh was coming from the CRPF camp in the village when the motor cycle coming from the village and heading towards Ram Darbar allegedly hit the cycle. Diwan Singh was taken to the GMCH where he was declared brought dead.

The motor-cycle borne youths Vinod and Parvin also received injuries and are stated to be out of danger. Vinod did not have a helmet on. 



PUDA plan on colony wall rejected
Our Correspondent

Mohali, February 7
The Citizens Welfare Federation has rejected the plan of the PUDA authorities to construct a wall around an unauthorised colony in Sector 71 here.

The federation said the construction of the wall around Jhota Kutt Colony would amount to a step towards the regularisation of the illegal colony. It would also help the residents of the colony to back up any case filed in a court in this connection by them.

The federation president and general secretary said the colony was an encroachment on government land worth crores of rupees and demanded its removal.

They said the demand was made at a meeting of federation representatives with the Chief Administrator of PUDA at which other problems of the town were also discussed.



Patient’s death: doctor is unqualified
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
The Mauli Jagran-based private medical practitioner after whose treatment a woman died recently is suspected not to have any degree or diploma.

Dr H.P. Diwan, with whom private practitioner Kuldeep Singh had worked 20 years back, said the man was a helper at his clinic and had studied only up to eighth standard.

Dr Diwan was running a clinic in Bapu Dham in 1981 when Kuldeep Singh worked at the clinic as a helper. Dr Diwan said Kuldeep had worked with him for six months and had no degree or diploma.

Dr Diwan said Kuldeep Singh had special skills in injection and medication despite being little educated.

According to Dr Diwan, Kuldeep Singh had a clinic in Sector 31 and Ram Darbar. It is surprising that he had been practising for so many years without any degree and the health authorities did not notice his credentials.

Director Health C.B. Bansal told The Tribune that an inspection team would visit the doctor tomorrow and seek proof of his credentials.



Decomposed body found in sewer
Our Correspondent

Panchkula, February 7
Decomposed body of an unidentified man was found from the sewerage treatment plant in Sector 20, here this morning.

An employee deployed at the plant Mr Harihar Yadav, noticed the body floating and he informed the police. The body had green shirt on remains and a belt around the waist.

The body was taken out the sewerage treatment plant in the supervision of Station House Officer, Sector 20 police station and sent to the General Hospital, Sector 6, for a postmortem examination.

Mr S.P. Ranga, Superintendent of Police, said that the body had decayed to such an extent that hair from the head has peeled off. The body might have been in the sewer for over three months.

He, however, did not rule out the possibility of a murder.

MISHAP: A motorcyclist Jitendra Singh received injuries after a car (MH-14D-4780) hit him at the local bus stand of Barwala village, here today.

According to the police the car driver, Hardeep Singh was driving rashly. The scooterist has been admitted to the General Hospital, Sector 6, Panchkula. The police has registered a case of negligent and rash driving against the car driver at Chandimandir police station on the complaint of Mr Ram Nath, father of the victim. No arrest has been made.

EVE-TEASING CASE: Mr Balbir Singh, a resident of Pyarewala, has been booked for eve-teasing case on the complaint of a woman of the same village. The woman had alleged that Balbir Singh misbehaved with her

Raipur Rani police station has registered a case.



Muskan murder: poisoning angle to be examined
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
The police has not yet gone into the poisoning angle of call girl Muskan who was allegedly murdered by a boyfriend of her old friend-turned foe in Shivalikview Hotel.

DSP S. C. Sagar said this angle could not be explored as the viscera report had not yet reached the investigating team from Patiala.

Muskan was allegedly drowned in the bath tub of a room in Shivalikview Hotel and the post-mortem examinations also confirmed asphyxiation as the cause of death.



Father, son attacked
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
A man accused of harassing his wife today attacked his father-in-law and brother-in-law near the Rock Garden to coerce them into withdraw up a harassment for dowry case.

Braham Dev, a former joint Director in the Punjab Public Relations Department, and his son Vivek were coming back from the Punjab and Haryana High Court when they were allegedly attacked by three motor-cycle borne youths, including his son-in-law Ankur Chhabria from Jalandhar.

Mr Bhalla and Chhabaria had gone to the Court in connection with a matrimonial dispute. Mr Chhabria had allegedly harassed his wife.

The sources said Chhabaria and his unidentified men first blocked the path of Mr Bhalla’s car, dragged them and allegedly attacked them with rods.

Mr Bhalla received injuries and his son in the leg.

The alleged attackers threatened the two to withdraw the case.



Handicraft exhibition opens

Chandigarh, February 7
An exhibition of handicrafts and handlooms, organised by Purabshree Emporium, a branch of North Eastern Handicrafts and Handlooms Development Corporation, opened today at Lajpat Rai Bhavan, Sector 15. Bamboo cane furniture is the main attraction. Paintings made of Palm leaves toys, sarees, suits, jewellery and duppattas are on display. Range starts from Rs 15. Mayor, Anu Chatrath inaugurated the Exhibition. It will continue till February 18. OC


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