C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Manager thwarts attempt to defraud bank of crores
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, February 21
A Rs 5 crore fraud allegedly by a builder of Mumbai and a Chief Manger of the State Bank of India, Sector 17 branch, was averted by a bank manager here today, according to the police.

Chief Manager Rajiv Bhardwaj, a former bank employee and a consultant of builder, Deepak Agnihotri, and Farooq Fakir Munshi, alias Jaysh Kumar Patel (a cousin of the builder), have been arrested when the manager of Union Bank of India’s Sector 35 branch, V.K. Gaba, trapped them inside the bank branch.

Mansoor Abdul Sattar, the builder who had gone to fax a document, slipped away.

Mr Gaba informed the police that Bhardwaj had informed him that a friend of his former colleague Deepak Agnihotri wanted to take a loan.

Mr Gaba agreed on the condition that Agnihotri’s friend Patel would have to give FDR details to the bank. On February 11, a fax from Mumbai came to the Union Bank branch in Sector 35. Mr Gaba got the FDR details verified from the Baroda branch of the Union Bank. When the Baroda branch detected that the FDR details were forged, Mr Gaba planned to draw the alleged cheats to the bank and get them trapped.

After the FDR details were given, Mr Gaba feigned to agree with the details and offered to give them the loan. He, however, asked them to personally come to the branch. When they reached there, Mr Gaba engaged them in a conversation till the time the police arrived there.

The DSP south, Mr S.S. Randhawa told media persons that Deepak Agnihotri was a colleague of Rajiv Bhardwaj before he took voluntary retirement about three years ago. After that, Deepak joined Mansoor as his advisor.

A case has been registered.



SC upholds ban on commercial use of Forest Hill Club
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, February 21
The Supreme Court on Monday refused to lift its order preventing any commercial activities in the controversial Forest Hill Resort and Country Club near Chandigarh, saying that at this stage no such order could be passed.

“At this stage stay on the high court order cannot be lifted. We think what is the position today, it should continue,” a Bench of Mr Justice Y K Sabharwal and Mr Justice P P Naolekar observed.

The apex court on December 6 last year had restrained club owners from making any commercial use of it, while staying the Punjab and Haryana High Court’s order for demolition of all constructions on the club land.

The court had also directed club owner B S Sandhu to maintain trees and greenary in the club.

Former Attorney General Soli J Sorabjee, appearing for Sandhu, made a plea for lifting of the stay, promising that they would not allow any construction on the club land.

“We are not going to construct any building, we will not induct new members and permit any function inside it, but the old members should be allowed to go there,” Sorabjee said. Punjab’s Advocate General Harbhagwan Singh questioned the need for lifting of the stay, saying there was no occasion for such an order at this stage.

When Sorabjee pointed out that the club needed to be maintained properly during the interim period, the Advocate-General said the apex court, while issuing a notice on the club owners’ plea on December 6, had taken care of this aspect also and had passed appropriate direction regarding this.



Lawyer’s heroics send Lior back to jail
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, February 21
Lior Avi Ben Moyal, an Israeli who was arrested for possessing 155 kg of charas, was nabbed by Rajneesh Sharma, a lawyer, with the help of some bystanders near Sector 25 this morning.

Lior had escaped from the custody of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) on Saturday.

Mr Sharma, who lives on the Panjab University campus, was on his way to court on a scooter around 9.30 am when he noticed a man resembling Lior walking down the road separating Sector 14 and 25. The fugitive’s face was partially covered with a blanket.

After ascertaining that the man was a foreigner, Mr Sharma followed Lior and accosted him. But, Lior avoided him and tried to run away.

Mr Sharma recognised Lior by his shoes, which he had seen him wearing when he was presented in a court a few days ago.

Mr Sharma rang up Mr Ravi Kant Pawar, Investigation Officer (IO) of the NCB, who is handling the case.

Mr Sharma followed Lior on the road and tried to nab him. Lior attacked him in a bid to flee and also tried to hit him with a stone.

Mr Sharma, despite an injured left hand, managed to overpower the fugitive, who has a black belt in marshal art.

Seeing the commotion, some passersby gathered at the spot and helped Mr Sharma in securing the fugitive.

The police was informed after which NCB and police officials reached the spot and took Lior into custody.

SHO of Sector 3 police station Kulwant Singh Pannu said they had received a message from the police control room that a man resembling Lior had been noticed in Sector 25.

During search, the police found Rs 13 on Lior. He had stolen the blanket lying on a motor cycle. The SHO said Lior had been hiding in the jungles of Dhanas.

According to the NCB officials, Lior was unable to contact anybody during his escape and had been wandering in the city to find an escape route.

Lior told NCB’s Zonal Director Shrikant Jadhav that he had planned to kill himself after he was caught carrying contraband.

Lior, who is divorced, has a two-month-old daughter. During the period of escape, Lior’s girlfriend had tried to contact him over the phone from Israel but NCB officials did not inform her about his escape.

Lior was today produced before a local court by the police and NCB officials. The court remanded him in two-day NCB custody followed by a 14-day judicial remand.

A case under Sections 333, 353 (causing hurt to prevent a government servant from discharging his duty), 451 and 224 (obstruction by a person to his lawful apprehension) of the IPC has already been registered.



Acting CJ changes Judges' roster
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, February 21
The Acting Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court, Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi, today effected some changes in the roster of Judges.

Mr Justice Singhvi today took over as Acting CJ following the transfer of previous CJ Mr Justice B.K. Roy to the Guwahati High Court as CJ.

According to available information, Mr Justice Singhvi will sit in the Division Bench with Mr Justice A.K. Mittal and handle taxation matter.

Mr Justice Singhvi, it may be recalled, is under transfer to the Gujarat High Court. He has to join there by February 28. Apart from him, Mr Justice V.K. Bali and Justice V.M. Jain have been transferred to Rajasthan and the Himachal Pradesh High Court, respectively.

The other Division Benches are Mr Justice V.K. Bali and Mr Justice Nirmal Singh (Civil and Criminal); Mr Justice H.S. Bedi and Mr Justice Viney Mittal (Green Bench and Criminal); Mr Justice S.S. Nijjar and Mr Justice M.M. Aggarwal (Civil); Mr Justice J.S. Khehar and Mr Justice S.N. Aggarwal (Civil); Mr Justice Amar Dutt and Mr Justice Baldev Singh (Civil and Criminal); Mr Justice N.K. Sud and Mr Justice Pritam Pal (Civil); Mr Justice J.S. Narang and Mr Justice Rajive Bhalla (Civil); Mr Justice Mehtab Singh Gill and Mr Justice Nirmal Singh (Criminal).

The roster of Judges, who will sit singly, has also been ordered. It includes Mr Justice V.M. Jain, Mr Justice A.K. Goel, Mr Justice Ashutosh Mohunta, Mr Justice M.M. Kumar, Mr Justice Jasbir Singh, Mr Justice Tapen Sen and Mr Justice Hemant Gupta (all civil cases).

Of these, Mr Justice Kumar will handle liquidation matter also.

Mr Justice K.S. Garewal, Mr Justice Uma Nath Singh, Mr Justice Virender Singh, Mr Justice S.K. Mittal, Mr Justice S.S. Saron, Mrs Justice Kiran Anand Lall and Mr Justice Surya Kant will sit single to hear criminal cases.



Poor response to bandh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 21
Claims of the Chandigarh Beopar Mandal (CBM) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) notwithstanding, the half-day bandh against the “anti-trader” policies of the government, including the imposition of VAT from April 1, evoked poor response in the city today. While a majority of the shops and commercial establishments remained open, the shops which downed their shutters in the morning were open by noon. The CBM had called a bandh for the first half of the day in protest against VAT, property tax, inspector raj and service tax.

A visit to Sectors 17 and 22 revealed that the bandh had little impact with shoppers thronging the shopping centres. In Sector 22-D, only the booth market observed a complete bandh.

In Sector 17, only a few shops remained closed. The situation in other markets in the city, including Sectors 47, 32, 20 and 21 was no different. However, a majority of the shops remained closed in Sector 23.

On the other hand, the CBM spokesman, Mr J.P.S. Kalra, claimed that the bandh was “near total” and almost all shops remained closed. Shopkeepers in various markets downed their shutters and protested peacefully by organising dharna in the respective markets, a CBM press note claimed. It claimed that different teams of the CBM activists visited various markets to take stock of the situation.

Meanwhile, Mr Jagdish Arora, CBM president, while thanking the traders for maintaining peace during the bandh, pledged that the peaceful agitation would continue.



Mixed response to stir against VAT
Our Correspondent

Mohali, February 21
The markets witnessed a mixed response to the bandh call given by the Vyapar Mandal in protest against the implementation of VAT by the government from April 1.

While most of the shops remained closed in the morning, some of the traders started opening the shops as the day advanced. However, during the later half of the day most of the shops were seen functioning in the normal way.

Members of the Vyapar Mandal, headed by Mr L.D. Jindal, organised a protest march which was started from near the Silvi Park in Phase X and it culminated in Phase 1. The protesters raised slogans against the government for forcing VAT on them.

On the other hand some shopkeepers wore black badges to protest against VAT but carried out their business in a normal way. Mr Sham Bansal, president of the Kiryana Merchants Association, had opposed the bandh call on the ground that such activities not only created problems for customers but also resulted in a loss of revenue to the government.



Education, awareness can eradicate leprosy, say experts
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 21
Education and awareness is the only way to eradicate leprosy from Chandigarh that falls in the moderate incidence zone. Voluntary non-governmental organisations and the administration hope that the leprosy will be eliminated from the country over the next two years. The huge task of educating people about the curability of leprosy has been taken up by children from five city schools jointly with the Indian Leprosy Foundation with highly successful results.

Dr. A.R.K Pillai, President of the Indian Leprosy Foundation (ILF), told The Tribune that the number of leprosy patients in India had gone down from around 40 lakh in 1982 to less than three lakh at present. But unfortunately inadequate awareness about the disease had limited the pace of eradication of the disease in northern India to a much slower rate as compared to south where states like Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh have virtually eliminated the disease.

Nearly 75 per cent of the world leprosy population lives in India and 63 per cent of them live in what is known as COWBUJ comprising the states of Chhattisgarh, Orissa, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand. There is a clearly marked shift of the disease from the southern parts of India to the north, primarily due to better awareness and people will to get treated there. Chandigarh too has had a very good response to the Indian Leprosy Foundation effort to eradicate the disease from the city since the last two years, when this NGO started work here.

Coordinator of the Indian Leprosy Foundation, Mr. Narayan B. Iyer, who has been working closely with five city schools, namely Bhavan Vidyalaya, Moti Ram Arya Model Senior Secondary School, Mount Carmel, St. Mary's and St. Stephen School says, "once we tell the children what the disease is all about and that it is curable, they in turn educate their parents and in the process people look at the disease with a different outlook altogether".

The ILF along with these children are involved in spreading a message that reads "whenever you see a patch on the skin and have a loss of sensation, consult your doctor and three miracle drugs can cure you anytime between 3 to 12 months". Chandigarh or Punjab is not the first place the ILF has done voluntary work. It supports 120 hospitals throughout the country from funds raised on their own. It does not depend upon the government for any grants, Dr. Pillai disclosed.

The ILF has managed to collect 87 lakh last year merely from coins collected by students in schools across the country. Rs 50 lakh have been spent on rehabilitation of school children this year out of these funds. The ILF hopes to reach a population of 100 million each year for the purpose of relief and rehabilitation, Mr. Iyer said.

In Chandigarh, it is the migrant population that is causing the problem; otherwise the disease would have been eliminated from here long ago. After helping patients get cured, the ILF also helps patients with rehabilitation by imparting vocational training to them. In Maharastra and Rajasthan, the ILF has adopted several villages where it is educating people about diseases like TB and AIDS, Dr. Pillai said.

The ILF has asked the Chandi Kust Ashram Society in Sector 47 to give a list of all those children who have been cured of leprosy and now need rehabilitation. These children would be sent to school and the cost of education would be borne by the ILF. The ILF has expressed its gratitude to the schools that have been participating in its programs and the Chandigarh Administration for supporting the NGO's leprosy elimination drive that is expected to be achieved by 2007.



Homoeopathic dispensary sans doctor
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 21
Patients visiting the government homoeopathic dispensary in Sector 47 are a harassed lot. The dispensary has been functioning without a doctor and lower-level staff. Patients have to wait for hours together to get medicines.

The process from the registration to getting medicines is a lengthy affair with only pharmacist posted at the dispensary performing multifarious duties. Sometimes, we have to wait for at least four hours to get medicines, alleged Ms S. Sharma, a patient.

Sources said on an average over 100 patients are registered at the dispensary every day. In the absence of proper staff, several patients had to go home disappointed without medicines after the closing hours of 2.30 p.m, the sources added.

Sources said till recently the situation was better with a Class IV employee helping the pharmacist in registration and dispensing medicines to patients.

However, following his transfer to the Sector 34 homoeopathic dispensary, the situation had become worse. The present Class IV employees is reportedly illiterate and had difficulty in the registering the patients and dispensing medicines, the source added.

It is learnt that the pharmacist had written to the Director Health Services to provide additional staff. But his plea fell on deaf ears.



Land meant for village playground sold illegally
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 21
A government servant has allegedly illegally sold a part of 10 kanals of a disputed land on which Mauli Jagran Panchayat had planned a playground for schoolchildren. The piece of land is estimated to be worth Rs 5 crore.

The gram panchayat had passed a resolution in 1976 that the land be given for a playground as the panchayat considered it as a shamlat land (land for common purpose.)

There has been a dispute between the gram panchayat and Jaspal Singh, a government servant, over the piece of land for more than three decades.

According to Sub-Divisional Magistrate (East), Ms Padmini Singla, under the law a disputed property can not be sold unless its title has been decided in favour of a party.

According to some members of the panchayat, Devi Dayal, Naresh Kumar, Jagdeep Singh, Rulda Singh and Santosh Kumari, sarpanch Om Prakash, panchayat members Keshar Singh and Darbara Singh and Jaspal Singh are allegedly involved in the land scam.

The Tribune is in possession of a receipt in the name of Mr Jaspal Singh, who had allegedly sold a part of the land for Rs 5 lakh, despite the fact that a dispute on the title is pending in the SDM’s court.

One of the villagers, Chanchal Singh, had made a complaint on an affidavit to officials of the Chandigarh Administration, Prime Minister, police and other authorities exposing the scam, which according to him, involved panchayat members and the sarpanch.

Surprisingly, Darbara Singh, who is accused of selling the land, had earlier made several complaints to the authorities saying that the land belonged to the panchayat and there were attempts to grab it.

According to the complaint, a part of the land was sold to one Kulwinder Singh on an alleged forged sale deed and on a power of attorney. Village nambardar Natha Singh has attested the documents despite doubts that he could even sign any document.

Interestingly, the description of land mentioned on the general power of attorney is different from the description shown in the sale deed registered by the Sub-Registrar, Chandigarh, as per sale agreement. Moreover, the site plan has been attested by sarpanch Om Prakash. Sarpanch is supposed to fight the case of protecting the land.

According to panches, who have stood up for saving the land, a part of the plot had been given to the government for building a community centre. The members said 8 kanals of the property had been donated for a playground for a village school through a resolution passed by the then panchayat in 1976.

According to sources, land grabbers had been eying the piece of land and a former sarpanch was also suspended for allegedly colluding with a land mafia.

Mr Chanchal Singh alleged that Ajit Singh and his sons, including Jaspal Singh, had been fighting the case in several civil courts and when they failed, they tried to grab the land in connivance with several panchayat members.

The four panchayat members today also gave a petition on an affidavit to several officials exposing the scam. They said the matter be referred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as their appeals to UT officials to stop encroachment on the land had been falling on deaf ears.

Deputy Commissioner Arun Kumar said following the receipt of an affidavit, he had asked Ms Singla to inquire the matter in which allegations had been leveled against several persons, including panchayat members.



Passing Thru

Lawrence Fray, Curriculum Director of The British School, Panchkula

How is the UK education system different from the Indian system?

While the Indian system of education lays a lot of emphasis on bookish knowledge and the standard of content is very high, UK-syllabi is skill oriented. Under the Indian education system, the papers are very predictable and even though a student can come out with flying colours, it doesn’t necessarily imply that he can apply the knowledge in daily life.

What are you trying to change by bringing in the Cambridge curriculum?

I am not saying that the Cambridge curriculum is the best. I don’t believe that by taking something from UK and bringing it into India, people will accept it on face value. Instead at The British School, Panchkula, we are trying to systhesise the skills of the Cambridge curriculum with the content of the Indian syllabi.

What is your basis of evaluation going to be?

We have prepared our own schedule wherein children will be taught with a targeted approach. While field trips and experimenting in the classrooms will be a regular feature of our studies, we will meet parents every month and discuss child’s progress on a set pattern.

— Geetanjali Gayatri



Chandigarh Calling
Power nap

There are many reasons for taking an afternoon nap. Some call it beauty sleep and wake up refreshed to party in the evenings. Very often the tedium or monotony can also send people dosing at the most inappropriate place. Such was the scene at a rather dry seminar of grey-heads in the city last week. In fact the chief guest, a minister, was seen catching a quick wink. But he realised it and shook himself awake in a jiffy. Well, he need not have worried for he was just the chief guest. In fact the members of the audience smiled to one another when the chief organiser, sitting right there on the podium, was not just seen sleeping for a while but snoring too. Would this be called a power nap?

Spirited enterprise

It is difficult to keep soaring spirits down. So it was seen at in the case of a roadside liquor shop in the Union Territory village of Kishangarh, near the entrance of the much-publicised Chandigarh Technology Park. Unfazed by the demolition of the liquor vend, the owner moved to the nearby green fields. Rising like the proverbial Phoenix, the profitable venture was under the blue sky in the very lap of nature. Displaying the bottles there on a steel stand was enough for the followers of Bacchus to throng there.

Warm and snug

The weather in the city and surrounding areas has been blowing hot and blowing cold throughout the past week. One day it has been bright and sunny and the next day it is chilly and raining. The sun, too, has been playing truant and choosing very often to hide behind grey clouds. The sunshine that followed the February showers was much sought after with the people wanting to make hay while the sun the shone.

In the picture, our lensman Karam Singh captured a rickshaw-puller taking a nap while precariously perched on his rickety vehicle. This picture was taken in Sector 29 when the sun came out after a spell of heavy rain. But even with the sunshine, there was a nip in the air and so, while basking under it, the rickshaw-puller snuggled under his warm shawl.

Turning green

The north-south divide has long existed in the city. The southerners have felt at a disadvantage, mostly because the northern sectors were laid out and developed much earlier. Turning green at the bounties of the north like the Sukhna Lake, the Rock Garden, the Golf Course, the Lesiure Valley and more, the folks down south too are crying for more green belts and gardens. This demand is coming more from the areas through Sectors 39 to 47, which are very thickly populated. A scare has been caused by the Administration acquiring forestland through Sector 50 to 55, and some more west of Sectors 39 and 55. They are hoping that that the greens will not be replaced by the greys of the concrete structures.

Cry of peacock

The cry of the peacock, the twittering of the parrots and the songs of the nightingales can actually be heard in the forestland adjoining Maloya village. This area with the Patiala ki Rao choe has abundant mango trees, besides eucalyptus plantations and thick undergrowth around the choe. The residents want this area to be brought under the cover of the Forest Department and preserved as such. All very well, but greens sometimes have to go to house the growing population of the city.

In memoriam

Talking of spirits, one is reminded of a poet of the city. He was Kumar Vikal. He loved his drink a bit too much and this led to his rather early death in 1997. But he died after contributing significantly to modern Hindi poetry. His friends and admirers, including writers, artistes and journalists, have made a tradition of holding a function around February 23 to mark his death anniversary. This year, however, the function, which is usually in the shape of a poetical symposium, is being pushed to March because some of his admirers from Delhi and other cities also want to come and pay tributes in memoriam to the poet who had written so many verses.

Parking blues

People are getting tired of the rough behaviour of the parking lot staff near the OPD of the PGI. Even though the vehicle owners holding the master donor card of the Blood Bank are exempted from paying charges, one such donor was being bullied into doling out the money. The matter was settled when a senior security officer came and gave a bit of his mind to the extortionists.

Parallel tracks

An atheist seeing the merry mix of traffic on Indian streets with bullock- carts, cycles, push-carts, rickshaws moving alongside motorcycles, cars and jeeps is said to have remarked: "God may not exist elsewhere but he certainly exists here!" We Indians take pleasure in evading traffic rules and this can be seen right here in the city where the cyclists and rickshaw-pullers choose to avoid the narrow lanes that run parallel to many of the main roads. The traffic cops seem to be directing the slow-moving traffic thence.

Style statement

There are enough college-going students in the city who choose to evade helmets one way or the other because they feel it just does not look good. The girls in particular would rather cover their heads with colourful dupattas and scarves than wear the life-saving caps. Boys too try tricks by keeping the helmets at hand but they don them only when the traffic cops are spotted. For it is a style to let the wind play with their hair as they zip about on two-wheelers. What the city youth requires is some creative designer who will make a style statement with helmets on!

Feel-good factor

There are ever so many international days for this or that. So an SMS doing the rounds on city mobiles is mocking at it by saying: "Today is International Good Looking Day. Send this to someone who you think is good looking. Don't send back to me as I have got hundreds of such messages already!" Fine, since modesty is not the order of the day.

— Sentinel



‘Despite pressures democracy in India a success’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 21
Despite pressures over the past five decades, Indian democracy, the world’s largest, still stands as a symbol of success in the world. A delegation of 20 members on the Constitution of the Swedish Parliament (Riksdag) was quick to learn from Indian experience.

“We have come to India from Europe because it is the largest federal democracy in the world and has existed despite numerpressures from all sorts of forces. We can learn something from the Indian experience,” said Mr. Goran Lennmaker, Chairman of the Committee of the members of parliament of Sweden, Riksdag, after learning about the intricate Centre -State relations in India after a round table conference organised at Panjab University today.

In the backdrop of integration and segregation in Europe, with countries breaking up and yet coming together under the umbrella of European Union, the visitors had plenty to learn from the Indian experience as the speakers spoke on facets of the ever-evolving relationship between the Central government and the state governments.

Former Chief Secretary, Punjab Rajan Kashyap spoke on the Indian nation following integration of princely states and other territories that were ruled by the British on distribution of finances to the states by the Centre, Mr Kashyap however pointed out that lacunae in the system where the richer states do not get their due share of the revenues as the funds are given more to the poor states. “For, the federal structure of the polity ensures that even the weakest is helped out by the richer states,’’ he said.

Mr Shastri Ramachandaran, Associate Editor of the Tribune spoke on new opportunities and threats have that come now into play. Increased liberalisation has actually reduced the dependence of the well performing states on central funds and thus has given them more autonomy. ``It is impossible for the Centre, especially for any coalition government to ignore regional interests, demands and sentiments when engaging with neighbours and in dealing with internal security too,’’ he said.

Prof M Rajivlochan of the department of History, PU said that the relationship between the Centre and the States in Indian democracy is substantially mediated by the popular will. ``Often the interests of the two do not match, especially in cases where the state government genuinely represents the will of the people. In such circumstances stresses develop and it becomes difficult for the centre to bully the states,’’ he said.

Mr. Sameer Sachdeva, an advocate gave introduction to the legal underpinning of Centre State Relations. He informed about the federal provisions in the Constitution and the division of power and authority between the states and the centre.



Over 1,000 mango trees axed for widening road
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, February 21
Over 1,000 mango trees along the road leading to the upcoming IT Park in Kishangarh village have been felled while many more are waiting for their turn to be axed.

The administration has been widening the road at the cost of acres of mango orchards which have existed there for over two decades.

Though the residents of the villages alleged that the administration axed the trees without seeking permission from the Environment Ministry, the administration claimed to have felled the trees only after obtaining permission from the Advisor to the UT Administrator.

Moreover, litigation was pending in the court in this context, the villagers claimed.

While talking to the Chandigarh Tribune, Mr V.K. Bhardwaj, Chief Engineer of the UT Administration, made it clear that the trees were felled on the permission of the Advisor under the Chandigarh Tree Preservation Order, 1952. He also claimed that no illegal works was being done in developing the IT Park.

Mr Bhardwaj also claimed that 1,141 trees had been identified for removal along the road. Of them, 88 fruit bearing trees of less than 20 cm girth have been safely lifted and placed in nursery for transplantation during the coming monsoon while 125 were still standing on the road berm.

In total 928 trees would be felled for widening of the road. To compensate the loss, the Horticulture Wing of the UT Engineering department has already acquired land at various places in the city and would plant 3,000 trees during the coming monsoon.

Official of the horticulture wing alleged that some villagers chopped off canopies of over 200 mango trees on Saturday night and took away the wood.

Mr Harjit Singh, Assistant Landscaping Officer of the department, has already lodged a complaint in Mani Majra Police station.

The administration has appointed Mr Ishwar Singh, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Chandigarh, as an inquiry officer to find out the reasons which prompted the villagers to cut the trees and the alleged involvement of some government officials in the case.



Reception of IT czar’s daughter held
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 21
Wedding reception of Farah and Eric, daughter and son-in-law of Fred Ebrahimi, Chairman, Quark City, Mohali, was held at Rock Garden, Chandigarh. Around 300 guests attended the reception.

As the reception started, it began to pour and people had to scurry for shelter. Umbrellas were held over heads of guests by helpers employed for the job. “The couple got married in the USA last week. Every guest was taken care of personally at the reception,” said a guest.

City’s top businessmen, editors of select newspapers, bureaucrats and politicians attended the reception. The Punjab Governor along with his wife, Chief Secretary, Punjab, Secretary (Industries), Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, Finance Minister, Punjab, Animal Husbandry Minister, Punjab, and MLA Kharar were in attendance.



Will Fire Officer attend meeting on NOC to Quark City?
Kulwinder Sangha

Mohali, February 21
A fire station officer here, who had objected to the giving of a no-objection certificate (NOC) for fire safety to Quark City, has been transferred even as a meeting at the government level in connection with the NOC is fixed for tomorrow.

Mr Bhupinder Singh Sandhu, Fire Station Officer, has been transferred to the Municipal Council, Sangrur.

Confirming the transfer of Mr Sandhu, the president of the council, Mr Kulwant Singh, told Chandigarh Tribune, today that orders of Mr Sandhu’s transfer, issued by Mr B.R. Bajaj, Principal Secretary to Government of Punjab, Department of Local Government, were received by the council on February 17 and Mr Sandhu was relieved of his charge here on February 18.

It is learnt that the office of the Director of the Local Government reportedly rang up the council office here today to check whether Mr Sandhu has been relieved or not.

According to sources, Mr Sandhu, along with the Ropar Deputy Commissioner, Ms Seema Jain, and the Executive Officer of the local council, Mr H.B. Garg, was to take part in the meeting scheduled to be held tomorrow in the office of the Principal Secretary to Government of Punjab, Department of Local Government. The letters to the three officials to take part in tomorrow’s meeting were issued on February 16. But on the very next day, the transfer orders of Mr Sandhu were released.

The sources said earlier on October 21 last year the Ropar Deputy Commissioner had directed the officials of the local fire brigade to visit the proposed building site and submit a report after proper inspection so that the matter of issuing of an NOC to Quark City could be further taken up.

The proposed building site was visited by Mr Sandhu, who then sent a report in this regard to the Deputy Commissioner on November 19 last year in which he objected to the giving of an NOC for fire safety to Quark City on various grounds.

The sources said it had been pointed out in the report that the construction activity was going on at full swing without taking the required permission in this regard. It was stated that on one side of the building being constructed by Quark, an industrial unit run by Godrej was there in which explosive gases and different types of oils were stored. Across the road Ranbaxy was setting up a plant. On the third side of the proposed city there was a paint factory running by the name of ICI. The raw material of the factory, which remained stored on the premises, consisted of highly explosive items. On other side, Quark was running a unit in which high speed diesel (HSD) had been stored underground. The management of this unit had allegedly not made fire-fighting arrangements according to the Part 4 of the National Building Code, 1983.

It was further pointed out in the report that residential colonies, markets, theatres and offices would be coming up in the proposed city and as such a large number of people would be living and visiting the area. In case any untoward incident took place around the proposed city, it would create a lot of panic in the area. The district administration was already facing problems because of Ranbaxy Laboratories, which was located next to the residential area. Keeping the above factors in mind the office of the fire brigade had strong objections to the giving of the NOC to Quark City.



Plot allottees to step up stir against PUDA
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 21
Working committee members of the Allotment Sangharsh Committee met here today and decided to intensify struggle for an early allotment of their plots in Sectors 76 to 80 in Mohali. The committee has been formed by over 3900 allottees who had been given letters of intent by the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority for allotment of plots in these sectors in 2000 but have not been given the possession of plots.

According to a press note issued by president of the committee Sucha Singh Kalour, 3,950 plots of various sizes in these sectors were approved and draw of lots was held in March, 2001. The successful allotees had also paid 25 per cent of the allotment price to PUDA which collected over Rs 80 crore. It was promised that physical possession of the plots would be given by the end of December, 2002, but so far the plots had not been allotted.

The members pointed out that PUDA could have easily gone ahead with partial allotment of plots on over 100 acres in these sectors that was free of litigation.



Rs 57,350 donated for tsunami-hit
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 21
A delegation of the Residents Welfare Association, Sector 38 (A and B), presented a cheque for Rs 57,350 for the tsunami victims to the UT Administrator, Gen SF Rodrigues (retd), here today.

According to a press note, General Rodrigues appreciated its gesture. The delegation was led by Mr K.C. Sethi and Maj D.P. Singh (retd), president and general secretary, of the association.

Meanwhile, the Senior Citizens Welfare Association, Patiala, has sent a bank draft for Rs 21,000 to The Tribune for the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund.



Fauji Beat
Army poised for greater challenges ahead

NEVER in the past the public discipline in the country has been so low as it is now. Majority of people want maximum money for minimum work. The satisfaction level, in general, is at its nadir. Add to this, the criminalisation of politics, politicisation of the civil services and the police forces.

Murders, rapes, duping, drug trafficking, crime, corruption and lately brutal kidnappings of children have recorded an all-time high. The law and order machinery seems to have become ineffective. All this needs a deep analysis with a vision for the future as the situation is turning worse rapidly.

At this rate, the day is not far when the last resort (the Army) will become the first resort to bring the situation under control. We had raised Rashtriya Rifles, an adjunct of the Army, a few years ago to control militancy in J and K and other affected states. This was because the police and paramilitary forces had failed to measure up to their tasks.

Though the primary role of the Army is to fight external aggression, it is evident that the Army in the coming years would be inexorably committed to restore internal order.

Rather than being unprepared, as we always have been in the past, the political hierarchy should deliberate over this point with all seriousness. It would be prudent to tackle the falling public discipline and law and order situation in a more realistic manner.

Interaction at Fortis

The first-ever interaction of the ‘ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS)’ members with the Fortis Heart and Multi-speciality Hospital, Mohali, was held in the last week.

More than 300 ex-servicemen from Mohali, Chandigarh and the surrounding areas attended the seminar at the hospital.

Dr Jaswant Rai, Director, Orthopaedics, while speaking on osteoarthritis of the knees said it was a very common problem in the old age.

He said, “Motion is lotion for joints”. And the belief that knees should not be bent more than 90 per cent, one should not walk, sit on ground or climb stairs were myths.

Physical exercise reduces pain and strengthens the muscles, he added. Aerobic exercise, he said, was essential for one’s health because inactivity would increase the chances of heart disease and diabetes.

He further said when the joint pain became unbearable even at rest, one should go for the total knee replacement, which had proved very successful in 90 per cent cases.

Dr Arun Kochhar, Consultant, Interventional Cardiology, laid stress on keeping cholesterol level low and keeping weight, BP and diabetes under control. Besides, one should alter the life style, he said, to combat the growing menace of cardiac ailments.

Dr Gurbir Singh, Medical Superintendent of the hospital, assured the ex-servicemen that they would be provided the best health care at Fortis.

Mr Ashish Bhatia, Director, Administration of the hospital, also had an interesting interaction with ex-servicemen during the tea break. The seminar was organised on the recommendation of Lieut-Col S.S. Sohi (retd), President, Ex-servicemen Grievances Cell, Mohali.

ECHS contribution revision

It was the second time in January that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) changed the contribution rates for the ‘Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme’ members. This time the contribution rate has been changed because of the 50 per cent DA having been merged with the basic monthly pension from April 1, 2004.

As a result, those ex-servicemen who became members since April 1, 2004, can claim the refund of additional contribution paid by them.

This decision has riled those ex-servicemen who had become members before April 1, 2004. For, they cannot claim the refund in accordance with the current rates which are lower. The response given by the authorities to them is that since the 50 per cent DA was merged with the basic pension from April 2004, their cases are not covered under this rule.

They say that they are the pioneers of the ECHS because they opted for this soon after it was launched. In all fairness, they say, that their case should be taken up with the MoD.

— Pritam Bhullar



Exhibition on gender awareness ends
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 21
An exhibition on gender awareness organised by the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (DAVP) concluded here today.

Photo exhibits at the exhibition included photographs on the status of the girl-child, women empowerment besides issues of health, nutrition, education and equal opportunities for women in the society. The exhibition got a good response from the public as well as the Central Government officials. More than 100 visitors viewed the displayed items and also shared their views.

The exhibition was a part of the two-month Multi-Media campaign from February 1 to March 31 on ‘abolishing female foeticide’ run by the Inter-Media Publicity Coordination Committee (IMPCC) of Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India for Haryana, Punjab and UT Chandigarh.



Training programme on road safety
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, February 21
The Traffic Awareness Organisation, a city-based NGO, organised a training programme on road safety and traffic rules at the Children Traffic Park (CTP), here yesterday. Traffic police officials, members of the organisation as well as general public took part in it.

Documentary films on traffic violations followed by CD presentation on the traffic rules and road safety was shown by Ms Jaswinder Kaur, Sub-Inspector and In-Charge of the CTP. Mr Amar Manchanda, founder president of the NGO, said a quiz on road signs and traffic rules would be conducted by the organisation at the forthcoming Rose Festival in the city.



Duplicate matchboxes on sale
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 21
Duplicate products are taking customers for a ride. Wimco’s Homelites is one such product which is being duplicated and Wimco officials are trying their best to stop this. The company’s brand name matchsticks are being duplicated by other companies, some local and others based in the South, and are being sold at similar rates.

Inferior in quality, similar in design and colour to the original “Homelites” and not adhering to safety norms, these duplicates were found to be easily available in most of the markets. The regional sales manager is now trying to undo the damage caused to their sales and reputation by approaching shopkeepers who are selling these match-sticks.

“We first found duplicates being sold in Ludhiana and carried out an exhaustive exercise to check their sale. When we came to the city, we found the same story repeated here as well. These companies are trying to tarnish the goodwill of our company by selling substandard look-alikes. They even use names like Winco, Radhko and Kimco, so that nothing seems out of place to a buyer at the first glance,” Mr J.S. Singh said.

While the company officials have already held a meeting with the shop owners of Sector 26 and are approaching market welfare associations to discourage keeping the look-alikes in their shops.

Stating that this puts the customers at a disadvantage since these are unsafe in comparison to the original, Mr Singh pointed out that they were producing carbonised sticks. “The difference lies in the fact that our matchstick burn only to a certain level and extinguish after that. The duplicate matchboxes have sticks which can cause serious accidents,” he added.

The company is also considering filing a formal complaint against the look-alikes with the police. The dealers sell these duplicates for higher margins.

“We are launching similar drives in Amritsar and Jalandhar as well and are working out ways of educating the customers through exhaustive advertising and holding lectures,” he maintained.



Five-yr-old hit by motor cycle, hurt
Our Correspondent

Mohali, February 21
A five-year-old child was injured when he was allegedly hit by a motor cycle near the Phase-III B2 market here today. According to the police, the child, Ankit, was taken to a private hospital.

In another case a motor cycle and a Maruti car collided near Ambedkar Institute in Phase III B2 today. Though, no one received serious injuries both the vehicles suffering damage.


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