C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Tribune Exclusive
Govt says HC stayed it, but is there stay?
NAC status to Naya Gaon
Maneesh Chhibber
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 3
On November 15, 2001, the then Punjab Governor had issued a notification for constituting a notified area committee (NAC) or Nagar Panchayat for the Naya Gaon area. The villages of Karoran, Nadha and Kansal were to be part of the proposed NAC, which was to have an area of around 2000 acres.

The Secretary, Department of Local Government, Punjab, then invited objections from residents of the area within a period of 21 days from the date of publication of the notification.

However, since then there has been no forward movement in the matter. The official take on this is that there “is a High Court stay on any action” in this regard.

It now seems that the stay on the notification was conditional and since the petitioner could not fulfill some conditions imposed by the High Court Bench which stayed the operation of the notification, there has been no stay for the past many years.

But, the government continues to hold the view that the notification is still stayed, thereby depriving over one lakh residents of the area basic civic amenities.

Following the issuance of the notification, one Dr B. Singh filed a PIL in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, challenging the legality of the notification.

On November 28, 2001, the Division Bench of Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Mr Justice M.M. Kumar stayed the operation of the notification till further orders. While notices were accepted by the law officers of Punjab and Haryana in the court itself, notices to the remaining respondents, including the Union of India, were issued Dasti.

On the next date, December 18, 2001, the Bench noted that “as per office report, notice could not be issued to respondent number 1 (Union of India) because the same had not been collected by the petitioner”.

The Bench then directed the petitioner to serve notice to respondent number 1 before the next date (February 5, 2002), “failing which the interim order passed on November 28, 2001 will get vacated”. This meant that if the petitioner failed to serve notice on the Union of India before February 5, 2002, the stay on the operation of the notification for constituting NAC for Naya Gaon would automatically stand vacated.

On February 4, 2002, one day before the hearing, the High Court officials sent a note saying that the counsel for petitioner failed to file the process fee and therefore notice could not be served on respondent number 1.

On February 5, 2002, the Bench took the written statement of the Punjab Government (respondents 8-10) on record, while asking the State of Haryana and Chandigarh Administration to file their replies to the petition within four weeks. It listed the case for arguments on March 22, 2002.

However, there was no order for the extension of the stay on the impugned notification.

Incidentally, even on this date, there was no counsel to represent the Union of India in the matter, as notice had not been served on it.

But, when The Tribune talked to the Punjab Government’s Principal Secretary, Local Government, B.R. Bajaj, for the reasons coming in the way of declaring village Naya Gaon as NAC, he replied, “What can we do? There is a High Court stay.”

Minister for Animal Husbandry Jagmohan Singh Kang, who is the local MLA, also gave the same reason. The grant of the NAC status to Naya Gaon and other surrounding villages was part of his election-time promise.

His stand: “Though we want to do it, the stay is coming in our way. The day it is vacated, we will start the process.”

Meanwhile, some residents of the area have written to the Punjab Government, seeking necessary steps for the constitution of NAC for Naya Gaon so that some development can take place in the area.



Parents take back abandoned children,
plead forgiveness

Jean Rodrigues takes interest in children’s rehabilitation 
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
The worst of wrongs stand corrected if only God wills. In a surprising twist of fate today, a sordid tale of abandonment took several vague turns to end on a pleasant note. By the fall of the day, sun was again shining brightly on the lives of Bhavna (6) and Himanshu (3) who were braving the gloom until yesterday.

Just a day after the Tribune shared the children’s trauma with its readers, they were reunited with their mother Santosh who appeared on the scene this morning. Pleading for forgiveness, she prayed her children be returned to her. But caretakers did not oblige her until she returned with an undertaking “never to repeat the despicable act”. Also she, along with her second husband Vinod, was made to produce two villagers as witnesses.

Only after the future of Bhavna and Himanshu had been secured did the Chandigarh Child Welfare Committee member Ms Madhu Singh allow them leave. The farewell scene at Missionaries of Charity, Sector 23, where children lived for eight days, was truly overwhelming. All inmates came to see Bhavna and Himanshu. Even as the mother beckoned Himanshu, he clinged on to another inmate whom he must have taken as family in the past few days of his stay at the Home. But once the formalities were over, the children had to depart. They had arrived in tears, but they left with a gift of smiles and sweets from the Home.

Ms Madhu Singh was naturally touched. She had been keenly awaiting the return of children’s parents since February 23 when the case was referred to her. “We have counselled the mother and have warned her of dire consequences of such behaviour. She has produced some arguments which seem plausible to an extent. Poverty she says is the cause but that does not give her a licence to leave her children in unsafe hands,” said Ms Madhu Singh. The children were recovered when Sector 11 police received an anonymous call that they were crying somewhere along the Sarangpur road.

While Bhavna and Himanshu have returned to the luxuries of home, Pooja will have to wait for a day before she can see her parents again. In response to The Tribune report highlighting the children’s plight, Ms Jean Rodrigues, the wife of the Governor of Punjab, Gen S.F. Rodrigues, personally intervened to ensure their rehabilitation. She made enquiries at the Director Social Welfare (DSW) office today and will be at the Nari Niketan tomorrow to announce financial aid for the children. Also present will be Director, Social Welfare UT Ms Madhavi Kataria who told The Tribune that, UT Red Cross would also spare funds.

While Pooja awaits tomorrow’s dawn, her parents are building arguments to explain their “irrational decision.” The mother said today, “We had to rush to Muzaffarnagar where my father-in-law reported seriously ill. Because there was no money to take the children, I left them with Bunty, an old acquaintance, requesting him to lodge them at a gurdwara. When I returned children were gone. I have been hunting for them.”

Though Santosh’s statement is corroborated by the police statement of Bunty, it has some loose ends. Pooja had earlier said that Santosh left them at a gurdwara and told them to wait until she returned with some food. Also Santosh took over a week to resurface.

While the truth is yet to surface, today’s reality is the family reunion which will be incomplete until Pooja walks back home. And that would be



Jewellers observe strike
Excise on branded jewellery a retrograde step: BIS
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
Marriages and family functions in the city scheduled for the next few days, it seems, will have to take place without the glitter of gold. Jewellery shops all across the city, today, began their indefinite strike to protest against 2 per cent excise duty imposed on branded jewellery. The excise duty was announced by Finance Minister P. Chidambram, during his Budget speech on February 28.

Perturbed over the announcement, the jewellers said the government had changed the definition of “branded” to include all jewellery which had any kind of marking, design or symbol rather than jewellery which came with a company’s name. Two per cent excise duty on this would imply that for every one kg of gold, jewellers would be required to pay nearly Rs 13,000 to the Excise Department.

The president of the Chandigarh Gold council, Mr Anil Talwar, stated that a meeting had been held to bring all jewellers under one umbrella and present a united front against this proposal of the government. “This is the first time that jewellers have been pushed to the wall and we will not give in. The government cannot get away with the duty,” he stated.

“We would first have to register with the Excise Department, get our gold passed and pay a duty on that. This would be in addition to Rs 55 per piece we are already paying for hallmarking. On the one hand the Ministry of Consumer Affairs is asking us to bring in international quality standards by getting all jewellery hallmarked, on the other since hallmarking would also bring it under the category of branded, they are taxing us for the same,” Mr Talwar maintained.

All city jewellers, with prior orders for marriages and functions, were flooded with phone calls from anxious families awaiting their orders. “Since we had decided that no shop would be opened, we could do little to help the customers. This time we will not relent whatever the cost and consequences till our demand is met,” the general secretary of the association, Col S.N. Duggal of Elite Jewellers, said.

Nearly 400 jewellers from the city are putting up stiff resistance against the government proposal on excise and are regularly in touch with other jeweller associations of the region and country. At a meeting held to finalise their course of action, today, they went to the extent of saying that by introducing an excise duty on jewellery, the government was only trying to encourage sale of impure and substandard ornaments.

AMBALA: Sarafa Bazars in Ambala Cantonment and Ambala city will remain closed on Friday and Saturday.

Mr Gian Chand Aggarwal, general secretary, Haryana Pradesh Sarafa Association, said the association has decided to observe a two-day strike as a protest against imposition of 2 per cent excise duty on all branded jewellery.

Patiala: The goldsmiths today downed shutters to protest against the imposition of excise duty on branded jewellery.

The local Sarafa Welfare Association president, Mr Susham Singla, in a statement here said gold traders would continue to close their shops for another two days.



Udhampur, Rajouri students visit Chandimandir
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
For a group of 72 school students from Udhampur and Rajouri districts who had never ventured outside Jammu and Kashmir, an Army-sponsored trip to the city and its environs has provided a foray into a whole new world.

Under Operation Sadbhavana, the students are on a three-day visit to Chandigarh. They visited Chandimandir today where they interacted with the GOC-in-C, Western Command, Lieut-Gen S. Pattabhiraman. The General said the tour provided the students with an opportunity to meet children from other parts of the country and see different facets of the country. Besides places of interest in the city, they also visited the Army Public School in Dagshai and the Yadvindra Gardens in Pinjore.

They are also scheduled to meet the Governor of Punjab and visit the local AIr Force Station and the Bhakra Dam. They are also scheduled to participate in a debate programme tomorrow where militancy in Kashmir is one of the topics. For many, life had not been easy. Living under the shadow of guns and in constant fear has had an impact on them.

Speaking to mediapersons, they were of the view that a definite solution to end violence in the state was the need of the hour as the present situation had taken a heavy psychological and materialistic toll on the local population. Tariq Hussain, a non-medical class 11th student from Akhnoor, felt that similar tours to Kashmir for students from other states should also be organised for an open interaction and learning about each other's ways and means. Imran Akram, the youngest of the lot, said he had immensely enjoyed the tour and expressed his desire to join the forces.

The students are being accompanied by four teachers and an Army officer, Major Stanley. One of the teachers, Zakir Hussain, said many of the students were from remote villages and had seen trains and metalled roads for the first time in their lives.

This year, the Army is spending Rs 35 crore on Operation Sadbhavana.

Another major project, Operation Ujala, has been initiated by the Army at Navapacchi, a remote area located several days trek from the nearest road. The Army posts there are maintained entirely by helicopters. About Rs 2 crore have been sanctioned to undertake developmental works in 12 villages in that area.

A student from Rajouri clicks away at the GOC-in-C, Western Command, Lieut-Gen S. Pattabhiraman in Chandimandir on Thursday. Tribune photo: Pankaj Sharma



Post offices stop sale of revenue stamps
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 3
Thousands of people in Haryana and Punjab are facing a lot of inconvenience after most of the 6500 odd post offices in the two states have stopped selling revenue stamps.

The post offices across Haryana have stopped procuring fresh stocks of revenue stamps from treasury offices. The existing stocks of stamps vary at different post offices in the state, and once these stocks are exhausted, the post offices will no longer be selling the revenue stamps.

Though people living in the district/ tehsil headquarters can buy these stamps from licenced stamp vendors, people in rural areas are already facing a lot of inconvenience as most post offices in rural areas have exhausted their stocks. These villagers, who could earlier buy revenue stamps from post offices now have to travel all the way to tehsil/ district headquarters to buy the stamps.

While post offices in Punjab had discontinued the sale of revenue stamps in October last year, the Haryana circle of the Postal Department has issued directions to post offices not to procure fresh stocks of revenue stamps since February. A senior official of the Haryana circle of the Postal Department says that they have stopped stocking the revenue stamps after directions to this effect were received from the Indian Postal Directorate.

The instructions by the central headquarters of the Postal Department were issued after the Haryana Revenue Department failed to concede to the Postal Department’s demand for a 6 per cent commission on the sale of stamps. Officials in the Haryana Postal circle inform that since they were procuring the stamps and selling these for the Revenue Department of Haryana, the latter owe them a commission for services rendered.

“The postal circles are being asked to generate maximum possible resources. We cannot improve on infrastructure and have additional staff because of paucity of funds. Under the existing arrangement, the state government treasury procures the revenue stamps from Government Printing Press at Nasik, and these are further sold to the Postal Department for counter sales. On October 1, 2003, the Central Government had directed the state governments across the country to pay a 3 per cent commission to the Postal Department for selling revenue stamps. They had proposed that the commission be hiked by 3 per cent every year, and our share of commission was to increase to 6 per cent from October 1, 2004,” informs a senior official.

The official says that they have taken up the matter with the Chief Secretary, Haryana, requesting that the commission be paid to Postal Department. “However, the Chief Secretary, failed to respond to our pleas, following which we decided to discontinue the sale of revenue stamps from the 2247 extra- departmental and 483 departmental post offices in Haryana,” says Ms Meena Dutta, Chief Post Master General, Haryana.



Now pay before filing consumer complaints
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
There is bad news for consumers filing complaints before district and the state consumer forums all over the country. The filing of the complaints will no longer be a free affair with the Central Government imposing court fee in the consumer forums.

The imposition of the fee follows a recent amendment in the Consumer Protection Act(CPA),1986, by the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.

According to a notification received here, the litigants filing a claim up to Rs 1 lakh would have to shell out Rs 100. However, for persons coming under the below poverty line and holding Antyodaya Anna Yojana cards, there would be no fee.

Apparently aimed at raising additional resources for the consumer fora and discouraging the "frivolous litigation", the decision will affect thousands of persons in the country picking up holes in government's claims of providing "free and speedy" justice to the consumers.

The claims from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh will have to be accompanied by a fee of Rs 200 and the claims from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh by Rs 400. The persons claiming a compensation from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 20 lakh will have to pay Rs 500.

Meanwhile, the government decision had come in for severe criticism at the hands of the consumer organisations. Terming it an attempt by the government to abdicate its "social responsibility", Mr R.K Kaplash, Vice-Chairman of the local consumer forum, alleged the common man would be adversely affected by the decision.



Pran, Kamini Kaushal to get awards in Pakistan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
This year’s World Punjabi Conference in Pakistan will be a glittering affair, with the organisers sending in invites to celebrated Indian film personalities. If all goes well, the conference beginning in Lahore from April 16 will witness the participation of legendary Indian performers like Dalip Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan, Dev Anand and Ramanand Sagar.

Sunil Dutt and Dharmendra have already sent in their consent to attend the annual show, which is organised to strengthen Indo-Pak ties. The best attraction of the function will be the conference of lifetime achievement awards on famous Indian actors Pran and Kamini Kaushal.

Announcing the schedule of the conference in Chandigarh on Tuesday, Mr Fakhar Zaman, Chairperson of the World Punjabi Congress (Pakistan), said the invites had been sent out for the conference which would wind up on April 19.

Also in the guest list is lyricist Gulzar.

On the political side, the organisers are looking forward to the presence of Delhi Chief Minister Ms Shiela Dixit, Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh and Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan CMs. Mr Om Prakash Chautala is also among the political guests.

After announcing the schedule, Mr Zaman, accompanied by some Pakistani friends, called for removal of bureaucratic hurdles like visa regime. Talking at the Punjab Book Centre today, he said the permit system should be implemented and the city specific visa rules should be done away with. Welcoming the Amritsar-Lahore and the Muzaffarabad-Srinagar bus service, Mr Zaman called for rechristening Samjhauta Express, saying, “The term spells lack of trust. It could be called Dosti Express.”

The visiting Pakistani also added that if the visa rules could not be relaxed immediately, multiple visas should be issued. He also called for greater exchange of youth who wished to study in each other’s educational institutions.

“Right now the conference is limited by the participation of elite classes. We will gradually work to include farmers and labourers who could benefit from one another’s experiences,” he said.



Passing Thru

Mr Manik C. Das
Mr Manik C. Das, Senior Administrative Officer (Education and Law), High Commission of India at London

Is education in the UK really class apart?

Institutions like Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College, University College, London School of Economics and the Queen Mary College are the best in the world. But it is not easy to get admission there. So, many people choose second rung institutions that are no better than institutions here.

What will you tell students wanting to study in the UK?

They must look for admission only in accredited institutions. The list is available with Regional Offices of British Council and Indian High Commission in London. Choosing just any institution to get a lable of studying abroad is simply wasting money.

But not everyone can get into Cambridge or Oxford?

If someone cannot secure a place in a good institution, it is better to study in India. Cambridge and Oxford rate institutes like the IITs in India at par with themselves.

What brings you to Chandigarh?

After paying obeisance at the Golden Temple, I wanted to meet some friends in Chandigarh. I find the place very nice, environmentally friendly and hospitable. It truly reflects a progressive city.

— Naveen S. Garewal



Kharar Murder Case
Sedatives purchased from Mohali
Our Correspondent

Kharar, March 3
The sedatives given to Bhupinder Kaur, who was allegedly murdered by her daughter and lover of the girl here on Monday night, were purchased from Mohali.

According to the police, Deepak, alleged lover of Inderjeet Kaur, had asked a friend, who was staying in Mohali, to buy the sleeping pills for him. The police has so far not been able to nab this friend. The SHO (City), Mr Harjinder Singh, found an empty strip of Diazepam tablets from the kitchen of the deceased today.

The SHO said after Bhupinder Kaur went off to sleep, Inderjit Kaur called Deepak to her house. He was allegedly under the influence of liquor when he entered the house from the rooftop. They then both tried to suffocate Bhupinder Kaur with a pillow.

The victim fell off the bed. Both of them then put her back on the bed. They then tied her arms and legs. Once again a pillow was pressed against her mouth by both of them with a greater force this time. Later when they found that her pulse was still running, they cut the veins on both wrists.

A few friends of Deepak, who had been contacted on the mobile phone by him during the past several days, were called to the police station for questioning.

It is reported that certain chemists were also questioned by the police to find out from where the sleeping pills were purchased. The police is also trying to find out whether the sedatives were purchased on a prescription.



Reverification drive in illegal colonies from March 15
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
The Estate Office will hold a reverification-cum-confirmation survey of residents of colony Number 5 for a week beginning on March 15.
A committee headed by the Sub Divisional Magistrate (South), Mr Preetdev Singh Shergill, and comprising the Tehsildar, Mr B.D. Bishnoi, and the Superintendent (Colony), Mr R.K. Arora will go from street to street to confirm the data of the survey, which had already been done in December 2003 and January 2004.

Estate Officer Arun Kumar said that these camps would be organised in all unauthorised colonies of the city. He said that the exercise had been undertaken to incorporate suggestions and corrections made in the last survey.

The orginal list would be displayed and read out in the colony before the community leaders, opinion makers and the residents before being finalised.

As per the last survey, there are about 70,000 persons living in 18 unauthorised colonies with colony Number 5 being the largest with 6.500 dwelling units housing between 19,000 and 20,000 persons. The colony is spread across 60 acres.



Kalagram to be promoted on Suraj Kund pattern
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
Kalagram is going to emerge as a major centre for the promotion of art and culture with annual fairs on the pattern of Suraj Kund.
An announcement in this regard was made at the combined 21st meeting of the executive board and 19th meeting of the governing body of the North Zone Cultural Centre (NZCC) held under the chairmanship of Governor of Punjab and Administrator, Union Territory, Chandigarh-cum-Chairman, NZCC, General S.F. Rodrigues (retd), at Jaipur.

All the member states, including Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and UT, Chandi-garh, participated in the meeting.

Addressing the members of the governing body and executive board of the centre, the Governor said that Kalagram would be made the focal point for the promotion of art and culture in the region. The artistic excellence of amateurs such as sculptors, potters and ceramic artists would be given impetus and encouragement. Simultaneously, all efforts would be made to popularise traditional forms of dance and music and to identify and nurture talent in the weaker sections of society. Consequently, this would help in the revival of interest in indigenous folk arts. He emphasised the need to develop facilities and infrastructure at Kalagram and felt that an area should be made functional there to impart training to budding artists belonging to poor and down-trodden strata of society and amateur artists. 



Leg amputation case: no relief for family
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
The State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has dismissed the petition of the mother of the 15-year-old student of St John’s High School, Abhishek Ahluwalia, whose leg was amputated following the alleged negligence of two doctors of a leading private hospital.

In their order, Justice K.K. Srivastava, president, Maj-Gen S.P. Kapoor (retd), and Ms Devinderjit Dhatt, both Members, ruled that the complainant had failed to prove the allegations of medical negligence on the part of Inscol Hospital, Sector 34, and its two doctors — Dr Sanjay Saluja and Dr Yogesh Caplash.

Abhishek had fractured his left leg while playing football in the school grounds on July 11, 2003. Subsequently, he was shifted to the Inscol for treatment where his condition deteriorated. With his condition showing no signs of improvement, his left leg had to be amputated on August 1. Later, a case against Dr Saluja and Dr Caplash was registered in the Sector 34 police station on August 26.

Charging the hospital with “utter casual and negligent approach” towards treatment, Abhishek’s mother, Ms Anuradha Ahluwalia, in an application before the commission, had demanded Rs 97,88,192 for mental and physical torture of the boy.

Later, when the case came up for hearing on December 2, 2003, the demand for compensation was scaled down to Rs 15,23,192. However, a revision petition was also filed before the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), New Delhi, which directed the state commission to decide the case “on merit” on May 19, 2004.

Regretting the amputation of boy’s leg, the doctors pleaded that the amputation was not the result of “any wrong treatment.”

Meanwhile, expressing unhappiness over the order, Ms Ahluwalia, said she was likely to move the NCDRC, after the examinations of her son, a Class X student of St John’s School, were over on March 24.



Stray dog bites 15 persons
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 3
It was a rude shock for almost 15 persons, when a stray dog suddenly pounced on them near Sector 6 market, and bit them one by one. The dog was later done to death by shopkeepers and cops.

The incident took place around seven in the evening. Ms Poonam, 35, who was standing outside her house, was the first unsuspecting victim. The dog reportedly pounced on her and bit her at several places. Just as she screamed and cried out for help, a number of labourers, who were working in a nearby house, came out .

As the labourers tried to rescue the woman, the dog pounced on them and bit some of them at four or five places each. As the labourers pushed the dog aside, it bit some children and a cobbler, 66-year-old Kanhaiya Lal, sitting across the road. As the horrifying scene continued, some shopkeepers in the market took out sticks and lathis and rushed to the hapless victims’ rescue.

By this time, the police in Sector 6 had also received information and it too rushed to the spot. The dog was then bludgeoned to death and the victims were rushed to the General Hospital.

While six of the victims were rushed to a private hospital, nine of them — Poonam, 35, Dhiraj Kumar, 25, Kanhaiya Lal, 66, Pooja, 10, Karan, 5, Usha, 5, Kiran, 4, Gupul, 6, and, Budhdev, 14, were referred to the General Hospital, Panchkula, for treatment. Most of them were bitten many times.



Delimitation Board meeting cancelled 
Our Correspondent

Mohali, March 3
The very first meeting of the Delimitation Board, which was scheduled to be held in the office of the Chairman of the board - cum-SDM tomorrow, has been cancelled.
The meeting was to be held for discussing the delimination of municipal wards as elections to the civic body are due this year.

Nine members of the board, including the Kharar MLA, were intimated on March 1 that a meeting in connection with the delimitation of wards had been fixed for March 4. The very next day another letter was sent to the persons concerned that the meeting had been cancelled in view of the Indo-Pak Test match that was going to be held in the town here. However, the next date of the meeting had not been fixed so far.

It is learnt from the office of the SDM that the meeting had to be cancelled as the SDM had been asked by the Ropar Deputy Commissioner to attend two meetings daily (one in the office of the Deputy Commissioner and another at the PCA Stadium here) in connection with the match.

The 12-member Delimitation Board had been constituted by the Governor for the purpose of delimitation of municipal wards in the town. The notification in this regard had been issued on February 3 by the Principal Secretary to the Government of Punjab, Department of Local Government, Mr B.R. Bajaj. A copy of the notification was received by the council office on February 14.

Out of the 12 members of the board, five are municipal councillors. The other members are the Ropar Deputy Commissioner or her representative, Kharar MLA, the SDM (Chairman), Deputy Director, Urban Local Bodies, Ludhiana, president and executive officer of the civic body and a nominated member from Phase VII.



Experts welcome new savings  proposals
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
The Budget proposal allowing deduction of up to Rs 1 lakh of savings from taxable income and rationalisation of exemptions offered to investors under various sections of the IT Act will give a boost to the insurance sector. Officials and agents of various insurance companies maintain that this will give the investors liberty to decide the product they want to invest in to avail tax exemptions.

Mr Kapil Khanna, a leading income tax consultant, told Chandigarh Tribune that life insurance companies stand to gain with the government’s move to channel domestic savings into the capital markets. Even though Sections 88 and 80 L had been abolished, a person could now get tax exemptions up to Rs 1 lakh, which would be directly deducted from the gross total income before calculating tax income, he said.

“The people can now also invest the entire amount of Rs 1 lakh in life insurance premia or any other saving instruments,’’ he added.

The rationalisation in the personal income tax regime and removal of sectoral limits would certainly mean more business for the insurance sector as they could now offer more options to the investors for their policies, said Mr N.P Chawla, Senior Divisional Manager of the LIC. Besides the salaried class, the insurance companies would now be able to focus more on those in the high-income group as the exemption of Rs 1 lakh from taxable income was valid even to those who have an annual income of Rs 10 lakh. In fact, the insurance companies would now be looking at this category of investors for their schemes with a higher premium, he added.

“An individual earning over Rs 500,000 per annum would now be able to save Rs 24,000 due to tax rationalisation, according to estimates. At the same time, he will be able to invest Rs 100,000 under the new scheme to save another Rs 30,000 in taxes,” he explained.

Tax payers in every tax bracket would gain from the reforms in the tax structure and this would enhance investments in various savings instruments substantially , including life insurance premia. Currently, benefits were available only under Section 88 for up to Rs 70,000 and that too would fetch a maximum rebate of 20 per cent, said Mr Jaideep Sharma, a Chartered Accountant. But now the ceiling had been raised to Rs 1 lakh and one could now easily invest up to Rs 1 lakh and avail tax benefit under Section 80 CCC.



Budget ‘leaves senior citizens poorer’
Our Correspondent

Mohali, March 3
A former member of the Consumer Court, Chandigarh, Mr H.S. Walia, said here today that the Union Budget proposals had adversely affected senior citizens making them poorer by thousands of rupees.

Mr Walia, a resident of the town, said the only segment of tax-payers which had been chosen for harsh treatment by the Finance Minister was senior citizens, who otherwise constituted a special class deserving special treatment, as their survival usually depended on their pension and interest income. That was why they were hitherto fore enjoying a tax rebate of Rs 20,000 under Section 88 B of the Income Tax Act, which now virtually stood reduced to Rs 5,000, making them poorer by Rs 15,000.

Mr Walia said the new provision of a threshold exemption limit of Rs. 1.50 lakh fixed for senior citizens seemed to be camouflaging the loss actually caused to them by the omission of Section 88 B of the Act. Under the new slab system, on an income of Rs 2.50 lakh, while an ordinary tax-payer would pay a tax of Rs 26,000, a senior citizen would be required to pay Rs 20,000, with a benefit of Rs 5,000 out of a tax rebate of Rs 20,000 to which he was entitled earlier. The effect of the new provision was the withdrawal of the benefit of a tax rebate of Rs 15,000 from him.

He said the matter could be looked at from another angle too. Taking into consideration the tax rebate of Rs 20,000 earlier admissible to be a senior citizen, his income up to Rs 1,95,000 (which included Rs 1,53,000 representing a tax rebate of Rs 20,000 plus Rs 30,000 as standard deduction and Rs 12,000 as interest income) was not taxable even without availing himself of any tax rebate on investments. Under the new provisions, a senior citizen’s earlier non-taxable income of Rs 1,95,000 had been virtually reduced to Rs 1.50 lakh, making him liable to pay Rs 9,000 as tax beyond his exemption limit.

Mr Walia said that Section 88 B needed to be retained, while senior citizens should be treated on a par with others in so far as the exemption limit was concerned, as was the position earlier.



Sales tax  collections up
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
Sales tax collection in the city has shot up by more than 21 per cent from Rs 306 crore in February last year to Rs 372 crore in the corresponding period this year.

Periodic checking's, better enforcement and other efficiency measures have also led to an increase of 20 per cent in the overall collection of revenue in the city from Rs 387 crore to Rs 462 crore, Deputy Commissioner Arun Kumar said here today.

He said there had been an increase of 14 per cent in excise duty collection and 16 per cent in entertainment tax during the same period.



200 attend yoga camp
Tribune Reporters

Chandigarh, March 3
Over 200 persons are attending the ongoing yoga camp being organised by the Gayatri Parivar in the Sector 46-C park here.
According to a press note, the camp was being conducted by Sarita Gupta, Pariyanka Rai, Preeti Tonk and Vinita Singh. Aasanas, pranayam, dhyan and accupressure are the highlights of the camp.

A demonstration of various aasanas and sale of books will be organised on the concluding day, March 9, the press note adds.

Meanwhile, one month workshop on “Yoga for healthy living” organised by the Centre for Adult, Continuing Education & Extension concluded at Panjab university here today. More than 35 employees from various departments of the university and their family members benefited from the Yoga Asanas.

Mr Raman Sharma, Yoga Instructor from Gandhi Samarak Bhavan, Sector 16 conducted the workshop and taught various Asanas like Vajarasan, pranayam, kapal bharti, alom vilom, shav asan and shirsh asan for the benefit of mental and physical health of the participants.

Dr Parveen Kwatra, an ayurvedic doctor from P.U. Health Centre, demonstrated various hand mudras.

She opined that if these mudras are done properly and regularly, could help in controlling blood pressure, joint pains, indigestion, lack of concentration and various blood diseases. Dr Pankaj Mala Sharam, former Head of the Music Department, traced the roots of yoga to spiritualism. She was of the view that “Yog” though draws its basics from spiritualism are quite scientific. She gave practical demonstration of ‘Om Dhawani’ and other asanas.

Dr Sween, Director of the centre, said similar long duration workshops would be held by the centre, specifically aiming at stress bursting, cervical problems, backache problems, weight shedding and teaching relaxation techniques.



Langar for hospital patients starts
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 3
The Vishwas Foundation, Panchkula, has started a free langar for poor patients and their attendants at General Hospital, Sector 6. The foundation volunteers will every day provide lunch to about 100 persons on the premises of the hospital.

The service was started yesterday, and over 500 poor patients and attendants were distributed meals. The Director of the Panchkula branch of Vishwas Foundation, Rishi Sankalp Vishwas, says that they have made arrangements to provide meal to 100 poor persons each day, as the number of residential patients was about 100.

The foundation stated this humane service after general secretary of the foundation Sadhavi Neelima Vishwas, during her visits to the hospital found that there was no arrangement for poor patients to eat lunch, and attendants had to carry lunch from home, or forced to buy expensive food from outside. She then thought of starting it.

The food is ferried to the hospital at 12.30 pm. “We have specially hired a chef for preparing meals, and menu consists of two dishes,” said Rishi Sankalp Vishwas. 



Creche for children of working women opened
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
The Kanopi Kids Club, a creche, for keeping the children of working women was launched in the city yesterday.
Ms Ruchika Jain said, “Today, most of the parents are working and staying in nuclear families. They go to work carrying the guilt of leaving their little ones in the care of the maid. Time and again we come across newspaper reports of maids becoming violent and sometimes even kidnapping the kids.

The club would provide all sorts of indoor and outdoor activities. Public speaking through talk shows, conversation sessions, art and craft, theatre, dancing, singing, paper recycling, fun activities in form of ball game, ring game, dart game, basket ball, carom, ludo etc. Basics of Yoga where the child’s concentration is improved, reading habits would be stressed upon through story books, she added.



Black-badge protest by insurance staff
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
A massive demonstration was organised by employees and officers of four public sector joint insurance companies in front of the regional office of New India Insurance Company Ltd to press the management for an early acceptance of their genuine demands. The ongoing agitational programme of demonstrations will culminate into a two-day national-wide strike on March 23 and March 24.

Agitated employees of Oriental Insurance; New India Assurance, United India Insurance and National Insurance Company Ltd wore black badges to show their resentment towards the indifferent attitude of the management towards their long pending demands. These include the immediate resumption of stalled wage negotiation, which is due since August 1; conducting immediate promotion exercise for both officers and Class III and Class IV employees and completing the same by March 31.

The other demands are the abolition of brokers system in all four companies to prevent outsourcing of jobs and a review of transfer and mobility policy for the employees and officers. 



CAT upholds plea of 2 librarians
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) today stayed the move of the UT Education Department to withdraw the arrears amount paid to two librarians after the revision of their pay scales.

The Tribunal while hearing the plea of the applicants directed the Education Department not to withdraw the amount deposited in their accounts. The applicants had stated that after paying the arrears, the department had directed them to deposit the amount back.

It may be mentioned that teachers had gone to the CAT against the administration for not fully implementing the revised pay scales.

The beneficiaries were teachers working as work experience instructors, drawing teachers, librarians and table instructors.



679 youths clear Assam Rifles physical test
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 3
Despite tough physical standards laid down for candidates, a good number of youth form Punjab cleared the physical test conducted by the Assam Rifles at the Police Lines, Sector 26, here. The Liaison Officer of the Assam riffles told Chandigarh Tribune today that the youth from the state were so keen to join the paramilitary force that they offered to re-run the race if they failed to make the mark”.

The Liaison Officer, Col V. K. Singh, said till today 679 candidates had cleared the physical test. Apart from 10,000 candidates, who came for the test yesterday, another 7,000 turned up today. While talking about the general health of the Punjabi youth, he said on an average 30 youth out of 100 cleared the physical test. Normally four to five candidates clear the physical test due to tough physical standards laid down by the Army. He added that they were interested in taking more youth from the state to fill the vacancies. 



Sanchar Nigam employees stage dharna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
About 150 members of the All-India Sanchar Nigam Limited Executives Association (AIBSNLEA) and the Sanchar Nigam Executive’s Association, India SNEA (I), Chandigarh, jointly protested against the “indifferent attitude” of the BSNL management and staged a dharna in front of the office of GMT, Punjab, Sector 34, and the office of the Principal General Manager, Sector 18, here today.

The employees wore black badges in protest against the non-fulfilment of terms and conditions offered to the employees at the time of its merger with BSNL, including their demands like implementation of the non-post based time-bound promotions. 



Maximum temperature up in city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
The skies cleared up today and the maximum temperature touched the 32ºC mark and this was at 6 degrees above the normal. The minimum temperature recorded was 15ºC, 4 degrees above the normal.

The temperature on March 3, 2004 was 28.2ºC and the warmest day recorded in March last year was 36ºC on the March 18.

The Meteorological Department believes these fluctuations and the varying degrees of warmth and coolness are a normal pattern for this time of the year as they expect it to get warmer every time the cloud cover disperses.

However, if the city does get a smattering of rain today, do not be surprised if you need to pull your woolies out again.



3 hurt in group clash at Fun Republic 
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 3
The viewers watching the movie, “Page 3”, at Fun Republic last night, were taken aback, when two groups of boys allegedly clashed with each other. At around 11:30 pm suddenly there was a commotion inside the hall. The people were surprised to see two groups of boys assaulting each others with batons.

Mr Gurpreet Singh of Mukherjee Nagar, New Delhi, who lodged a complaint with the police, alleged that Randeep Singh of Mansa Devi Complex had attacked his friends. As a result of which Adarsh Kumar, Dharmbir and Naveen Kumar sustained injuries and were admitted to the PGI.

According to the police, a boy of the complainant’s party unintentionally hit one member of the other group sitting in the front row. However, they apologized for this unintentional act. When the same thing happened again, the boys sitting in the front row objected saying that they were indulging in eve-teasing. As a result of this the two groups stated fighting inside the hall. Randeep and his friends assaulted Gurpreet along with his friends. Two of Gurpreet’s friends suffered head injuries while one of them had received injury on his hand.

A case under Sections 147, 148, 149, 323 and 307 of the IPC was registered in the Mani Majra police station. Randeep was arrested and produced before a local court today. The court remanded Randeep in one day police custody.



Showroom burgled in Panchkula
Our Correspondent

Panchkula, March 3
Close on the heels of a burglary in a Sector 21 house, a gang of burglars again targeted a showroom in the densely populated Sector 16 market and decamped with goods and cash worth lakhs of rupees in the wee hours today.

The burglars entered the showroom No. 196 after cutting the locks of the shutters with the help of a wire-cutter early this morning. Bedsides Rs 1,000, the burglars took away mobile phones and other electronic goods.

The owner of the showroom, Mr Mohit Gupta, has a franchise of a telecommunication company in the market.

The incident came to light this morning when Mr Narinder Kumar, an employee, reached the shop around 10 am and found the locks of the shutter cut. He immediately informed his employer.

Mr Gupta reached the shop and found that the burglars had also broke open the lockers of almirahs, drawers and cupboards apart from ransacking the entire showroom.

While talking to Chandigarh Tribune, Mr Gupta revealed that the burglars took away mobile phones, electronic goods and Rs 1,000 in cash. The burglars had also left a wire-cutter at the scene of crime, which they used to cut locks. He claimed that all his employees had left for home after locking the showroom around 9.30 pm yesterday.

After receiving a complaint, the police reached the showroom and a team of forensic experts and a dog squad were pressed into service. The police has registered a case of burglary.

Sources said that the police had questioned the employees of the showroom and detained some other suspects in the incident.

Mr Gupta, president of the Market Welfare Association, said that the watchman employed by the shopkeepers was also on duty the whole night. He, however, suspected that the burglars might have struck early morning.

The shopkeepers alleged that the police had not been conducting regular night patrolling in the area allowing unscrupulous persons and anti-social elements an opportunity to strike. 



Restaurant owner’s son booked
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 3
Manu Sethi, son of the owner of Gazal restaurant in Sector 17 here, has been booked by the police for allegedly threatening to kill a Canadian national, Mr Sanjiv Mahan, outside the Chandigarh Club about a fortnight ago.

The police, which had been procrastinating for some time, had to register the case after the Canadian national reported the matter to the consulate of his country. However, the police denies that the case was registered because of the intervention of the Canadian authorities.

A case under Section 506 of the IPC has been registered in the Sector 3 police station. However, no one has been arrested.

Mr Mahan, who is presently living in Sector 2 of Panchkula, alleged that on February 18 he saw a waiter of the Chandigarh Club serving liquor and eatables to some persons who were sitting in their cars in the parking lot of the club.

The catering service to the Chandigarh Club is provided by the owner of Gazal restaurant. Mr Mahan, who is a member of the club, objected to this, and also stopped the waiters from doing so.

The waiters reported the matter to the restaurant owner, and Manu Sethi came to the club after some time. Mr Mahan alleged that Manu pointed his revolver on his chest and threatened to kill him if he intervened in their business. On seeing this, people gathered on the spot and pacified them. Mr Mahan also added that he apologised before Manu and thought the matter was resolved.

But in the night, Mr Mahan allegedly received threatening calls on his mobile phone from Manu late in the night.

Next day, he reported the matter to the Panchkula police, which did not take any action on his complaint. On February 19 during the night, Manu again reportedly called him and threatened him.

On February 20, Mr Mahan reported the matter to the Sector 3 police station. But no action was taken by the police against the accused. 



Youth hangs himself to death
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 3
An 18-year-old youth ended his life by hanging himself at his residence in Daria village late last night. He was noticed hanging from a girder with a dupatta by his father this morning.

According to the police, Amarjit came back home around 10:30 pm yesterday. He went to his room around 11 pm. In the morning, his father went to his room and noticed that the light was on and his son was hanging from a ceiling girder. He informed the police about the incident.

The investigating officer, Mr Ram Parkash, said no suicide note was found near the body. The members of the deceased family also expressed their ignorance about the reason behind this extreme step of Amarjit.

Aramjit was working in a sweet shop in Sector 18 in Chandigarh and had returned from job last night. He is survived by his three siblings, including a married sister, besides his parents. He was unmarried.

His body was taken to the General Hospital where it was later handed over to the members of his family by the police after the post-mortem. The police has initiated the inquest proceedings under Section 174 of the CrPC.



Two held on theft charge
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 3
The local police has arrested two persons accused of stealing in separate cases and another person for gambling while a shop was burgled in Sector 22-C, as per a press note issued by the local police here, today.

Mr Gopal Sharma, Work Manager of Track Innovation India Limited, near the Railway Chowk in Mani Majra reported to the police alleging that Jakhu Shah, a worker of the said firm, had stolen steel roller from the factory premises yesterday. The police later arrested Jakhu Shah. A case under Section 381 of the IPC has been registered in the Mani Majra police station.

In another incident, Mr Om Prakash of Colony Number 5 filed a complaint to the police alleging that Surinder Rajwar of Kakori Dawakal in Jonpur district in Uttar Pradesh had stolen his TV from his residence on the night of March 1 . The accused was later arrested from near the kerosene pump in Sector 45 yesterday. The police recovered stolen goods from his possession and booked him under Sections 457 and 380 of the IPC.

Shop burgled: Mr Sunil Puri of Sector 22-C reported to the police that articles valuing about Rs 80,000, including Rs 15,000, were stolen from his shop.

Mr Puri, owner of a dry clean-cum mobile phone sale shop told Chandigarh Tribune that when he came to his shop this morning he noticed that his shop was ransacked and 17-18 mobile phones, some clothes and cash was missing.

As the front shutter of the shop was intact he inspected the shop and found that the grill and a window pane in the rear wall of the shop had been removed. A case has been registered.

Car stereo stolen: Mr Buta Singh of Sector 39 filed a complaint to the police that a car stereo of Sony was stolen from his car, which was parked outside his residence during the night of February 28. A case of theft under Section 379 of the IPC has been registered.

Held for gambling: The local police has arrested Neeraj Gupta of Daddu Majra Colony from near a tube well in Sector 25 for gambling at public place yesterday.

The police recovered Rs 1,815 from his possession and booked him under Sections 13, 3 and 67 of the Gambling Act



Gang of looters busted
Our Correspondent

Mohali, March 3
The police busted a three-member gang involved in the looting of people after drugging them here today.
Although the police declined to confirm the arrests, sources said that gang members were picked up from the Phase VII industrial area.

The sources said that the gang was planning to strike in Chandigarh. It is reported that with the arrest of the three persons, three cases relating to looting at Ambala and Kharar may be solved


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