C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Admn told to pay benefits to Kansal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 18
The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) today quashed the condition of pending departmental proceedings against the Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner (AETC), UT, Mr S. P. Kansal, and directed the Chandigarh Administration to release his all consequential benefits like pay allowances, increments and other pending dues within two months.

The applicant, who had remained under detention for more than 24 hours after being booked in a case of corruption by the CBI, had been suspended in March, 2002. Following the closure of the CBI inquiry, the suspension orders were revoked by the Administration, subject to the final outcome of the departmental proceedings pending against the applicant.

Stating that the Administration did not want him to work as AETC, the applicant in his plea said it wanted to give the work of AETC to an officer much junior to him.

He further pleaded that he had been duly exonerated after a through inquiry by the CBI in all charges levelled against him. The Special Judge, CBI, not only considered the closure of the report filed by the CBI but also rejected the objections filed by the Administration to the report of the central investigating agency.

After hearing the arguments of the applicant and the respondents, Mr L. M. Goyal and Mr Jasbir S. Dhaliwal, Vice-Chairman and Member, respectively, of the tribunal observed that after receiving a suo motu advice for taking departmental action, nothing was done by the Administration to issue the charge sheet for which one month was prescribed.

The objection petition filed by the Administration regarding departmental and criminal misconduct of the applicant was rejected.

If the Administration was serious that certain serious departmental irregularities had been committed by the applicant even though he had been exonerated in the CBI inquiry, it was duty-bound to take a prompt action in issuing the charge sheet and complete the departmental proceedings.

To stick to the time frame fixed by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), the Administration did not even initiate action after a lapse of eight months from the date of revocation of the suspension order.

Under the circumstances, the Administration was not justified in imposing a condition which they did not order of revocation of suspension.



Peeping Toms create panic in Sector 7 colony
Bipin Bhardwaj

Chandigarh, March 18
Peeping Toms have created panic among the residents of the Central Government Employees Colony, Sector 7, for the last over six months. Over six incidents have come to light in the past when women of the locality noticed youths watching them through the windowpanes of their toilets.

The miscreants have been targeting various houses in this sector where various VVIPs, including politicians, top brass bureaucrats of Punjab, Haryana, and Chandigarh besides advisor to the Administrator to Chandigarh have been residing.

The police, however, claimed it to be the handiwork of a group of drug addicts who have been peeping through the windows into the private lives of the residents.

The residents of the locality have nabbed two young men in last three days and have handed them over to the police after giving them a sound beating.

On March 13, a youth under the influence of some narcotic substance, was caught by the wife of a UT police Assistant Sub Inspector while he was peeping through the window of her bathroom at about 7.30 p.m.

The daring woman, a resident of house No 401 (ground floor), noticed a youth of the same locality sneaking his head inside the window of her bathroom. She noticed his movement and walked to the backyard of the house and pounced upon him.

She dragged him to the courtyard and raised the alarm. The women of the neighbouring houses assembled and thrashed him. The women of the area subsequently informed the Sector 26 police station and the youth was handed over to the police. He was later identified as Vicky (20), a resident of the same colony.

Residents of the area alleged that the police let off Vicky without taking any action against him.

Another youth, aged about 23, broke the windowpane of another house in the same locality on Sunday. The woman inside the house raised the alarm following which the colony residents assembled at the spot and thrashed the youth.

In a similar incident, a couple of weeks ago, a girl of the area noticed a stranger peeping into her bathroom while she was taking a bath. She informed her parents and the chase for the stranger proved futile as he managed to give the residents a slip in the dark.

The addicts have been peeping into the private lives of colony residents. The families residing on the ground floor of various houses in this colony are proving easy prey for these antisocial elements, claimed Mr Raj Kumar, a resident of the colony.

On Tuesday evening two youths consumed alcohol and targeted another house. They smashed the windowpane of the house after pelting stones from the backside.

The woman residing in the house raised the alarm following which the colony residents assembled and caught one youth while his accomplice fled from the scene. He was also thrashed and later handed over to the police. The police later identified him as Sham, a Sector 28 based part-time auto mechanic.

While talking to Chandigarh Tribune, Mr Jarnail Singh, Station House Officer (SHO), Sector 26, police station, said that Sham had been remanded to police custody. He also added that Sham had been booked for the third time for such incidents in the past. He, however, claimed that Sham was the only person involved in previous incidents.

When contacted Mr Vijay Pal Singh, Deputy Superintendent of Police, expressed his ignorance about such incidents. He, however, said that he would check up the matter.

The three incidents in last one week have created an atmosphere of insecurity and panic among the residents, especially among women and girls. The scared women have started seeking company of their neighbours till male members of their families return to their respective homes.

Mr D.S. Dod, general secretary of Residents’ Welfare Society of Central Government Employees Colony, Sector 7, Chandigarh, added that the menace of drug addicts has multiplied in the area for the last some years.



Art college row
Students fail to turn up for questioning
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 18
Tension continues to prevail at Government College for Art, Sector 10. NSUI activists yesterday went on strike to protest against the failure of the college authorities to take action against a lecturer, Sanjeev Kumar. They alleged that he shared a very close relationship with a girl student of the college and had always favoured her and her friend. These two girls in return complained to the police about being sexually harassed by two boys of the fourth year Sculpture Department, Rajeev Subha and Manpal Singh.

The police called these students for questioning today. But the girls failed to turn up on the pretext that someone has died in their family. Mr Kulwant Singh, SHO of Sector 3 police station, said, “Earlier Principal gave us an application signed by students saying that we don’t want any case. But then they went to Vivek Attray with their complaint. Today we had called the students for questioning but the girls failed to turn up”. The students would again be called tomorrow so that they could talk face-to-face. We will also call Sanjeev Kumar. Till now no case has been registered, the SHO added.

The Principal of the college, Mr Braham Prakash, said, “Classes functioned as normal and no strike was organised today. I have received complaints against Sanjeev Kumar earlier also and the departmental inquiry was being taken against him”. However, Sanjeev Kumar refused to comment in this regard.

Mr Vivek Attray, Joint Secretary of Technical Institution and Head of the Department, said, “I have received complaints against him earlier also and I have called the meeting of college faculty tomorrow”.



Land prices may go up in city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 18
Though brought about with good intentions, yet the recent changes in the land allotment policy by the Chandigarh Administration are all set to push the property out of the reach of the common man.

In fact, the decision, apparently based the logic of paucity of land in the city, has absolved the administration of its social and administrative obligation to offer affordable accommodation to local residents. The decision of disallowing the allotment of land to the genuinely deserving bodies and individuals will be another addition to the “anti-people” policies of the administration, Mr R.P. Malhotra, president of Samadhaan, a pressure group for social justice said.

The decision is certainly going to further exaggerate the existing “out-of-reach situation” in the real estate sector. The immediate effect of the decision would be felt in the very first month of the coming financial year. Not only this, the property on the periphery, the only solace for those seeking affordable accommodation, would also witness the affect of this decision, he added.

Since the changes in policy are not going to affect the projects of the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB), the only agency offering built-up dwelling units, it would give the agency the right to further capitalise on the factor of paucity of accommodation.

It may be recalled that Samadhaan had earlier suggested inviting private colonisers and builders to build rental accommodation in the city to ease the rentals and property prices. The suggestion if accepted shall bring competitively-priced qualitative accommodation breaking the monopoly of the CHB.

Meanwhile, the group also flayed the decision of the administration for continuing with the leasehold auction in the case of non-residential properties.



Advocate, wife held for tampering with HC order
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 18
Advocate Satish Kumar Grover and his wife, Dr Reena Bala, were arrested from Dhakoli, Patiala district, last night on the orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The couple has allegedly tampered with an order of the High Court.

According to the police, the couple had moved an application in the High Court for an anticipatory bail on May 28, 2004. The couple was reportedly involved in a civil dispute at Jagadhari in Yamuna Nagar district. Mr Justice S. K. Mittal had dismissed their application for anticipatory bail maintaining that it did not fall under his jurisdiction.

The Judge had also directed them to move the District and Sessions Judge concerned for anticipatory bail. The couple allegedly made an addition “arrest stayed” in the order and produced the same in the court in Jagadhari.

The court got suspicious of the orders and initiated an inquiry. The matter was brought to the notice of the High Court and Mr Justice Mittal confirmed that his orders were tampered with by the couple. A case under various Sections of the IPC was registered. The police also conducted raids at their Panchkula residence.

Meanwhile, the local court has remanded the couple in judicial custody.



80 PU scholars not receiving fellowships
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 18
There are more than 80 research scholars who were selected for the Council for Science Industrial Research (CSIR) fellowships in Panjab University but most of them are not receiving them regularly.

Panjab University is rated as heaven for research scholars. Its excellent infrastructure, laboratories and other facilities for young science researchers have been attracting the best brains. But things are different now.

Ashok Kataria, a senior research fellowship holder, Department of Chemistry, narrated his woes to Chandigarh Tribune. “I have not received my monthly fellowship of Rs 9,000 since July2004 till today even though we got confirmation letter from CSIR. Whenever we try contact officials concerned we get a standard reply “your cheque has not arrived from CSIR”. To continue with our research work we need chemicals most of which are costly and not easily procurable. Since I cannot afford to waste much time I am spending from my own pocket”.

Being married Ashok, who has to bear household responsibilities, feels the maximum pinch. “It becomes difficult to manage home without money.” Totally disillusioned, he said he would discourage the youth form undertaking research work especially in this university.

Dinesh, research scholar, Department of Pharmacy, is not too happy either. “I have not received the monthly grant of Rs 11, 500 since October 2004. Sometimes it becomes difficult to fund the research work.”

However, Ashok Raj Bhandari, Finance and Development Officer, Panjab University, said, “I have not received even a single complaint from any student. I think they should have approached me so that I could look into the matter. According to me the fellowship is arriving on time and there is not any kind of delay from CSIR”. 



Vultures declining due to use of diclofenac
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 18
Nature’s sturdiest bird, the vulture, faces death and the reason lies in diclofenac, also known as a vet’s aspirin for treating common ailments in livestock. It is targeting the bird through the food chain, causing renal failure which leaves the bird dead within one month.

Now, a detailed documentary titled, “The Last Flight”, made by Nutan Manmohan, to be aired on Discovery Channel on March 26, spells this out clearly. Screened for journalists of the city here today, the idea behind the film, also honoured with the Environment Conservation Award 2004, is to reach out to the man in the fields.

“We are in the midst of an environmental crisis which will ruin our eco-system. We want a movement against the use of diclofenac for treating ailments like joint pains and fever in animals. For this, we need a drug that’s equally cheap and effective. The government, on its part, is thinking on the lines of opening more breeding centres for vultures and creating awareness among the farming community to discard this drug which is upsetting the ecological balance,” says Dr B.R. Lal from the Ministry of Environment and Forests.

Holding that diclofenac is responsible for wiping out 95 per cent of India’s vultures, an avian scientist, Dr Vibhu Prakash, from the Bombay Natural History Society, said the reason for the declining population had only recently been discovered.

“Earlier, we were under the impression that it was a viral infection that was taking a toll on the bird population. However, in 2004, it was found that the vultures feeding on carcasses of livestock that had been administered diclofenac was the reason for the mystery deaths,” he maintained.

The extent of the damage by the drug can be gauged from the fact that 1 per cent content of diclofenac causes a crash of 95 per cent in the bird population. To deal with the crisis, the government is not only working on a “vulture recovery plan”, but has taken up the responsibility of creating awareness among people. It is also contemplating phasing out diclofenac and substituting it with melexicon and ketoprofen. However, any measure to check the declining vulture population will only show results after 10 years.

“A vulture lays only one egg during the mating season. But it has been noticed that after nesting in on a tree and laying an egg, the vulture is not showing an interest in protecting it. This, too, is a cause of concern for us,” adds Dr Prakash.

Interestingly, the documentary shows that the villagers are as concerned about the rapidly falling number of birds as the environmentalists. With these scavengers out of action since the 1990s, they are forced to cremate carcasses of livestock which were, traditionally eaten away by the bird or face a threat of an epidemic in their area.

A lot of brains are presently working on ways for reviving the vulture population comprising the white-backed vulture which has experienced a 95 per cent decline, the slender billed (the rarest in the world) which has declined by 85 to 90 per cent, and the long billed which has fallen by 90 to 95 per cent, conservationists say. Their fingers are crossed as they wait to see the flying machines soaring in the sky again.



Passing Thru

Why is vulture population declining in India?

Vultures are dying due to various reasons, including the veterinary use of the drug diclofenac. The drug is widely used on livestock in India. Its effect is more on the Gyps species — the white-backed, the slender-billed and the long-billed vultures.

How much is the decline in the Gyps species of vultures?

Almost 97 per cent of vultures of the Gyps species have been wiped out from Indian skies since 1990. As many as 353 vultures were recorded in 1987-88 at the Bharatpur sanctuary, Rajasthan. After 2000 no bird was sighted. Other vulture species are also witnessing a decline.

What is the best option to conserve them?

Capture young vultures and breed them in captivity. This is the only way to save the special “ambassadors” of nature. At present, the Bombay Natural History Society is running a vulture breeding and care centre with the assistance of the Haryana Government at Pinjore. The centre, set up in 2001, has 42 vultures.

—Vishal Gulati



Rodrigues for core group to desilt Sukhna
Gayatri Rajwade
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 18
Gen S.F. Rodrigues, UT Administrator, has asked for the constitution of a “core group” of environmentalists and experts to prepare an action plan for suggesting ways and means of de-silting and preserving the ecological balance in the catchment area of the Sukhna lake by instituting a scientific and workable mechanism.

The National Shipbuilding and Design Corporation of India at Visakhapatnam had submitted a proposal to de-silt the lake and increase the depth of the lake to 18 feet. A presentation of the plan was made by them today. The process, which is scheduled to take five years, would remove three million cubic feet of silt deposits accumulated over the years and would cost around Rs 80 crore.

A public interest litigation was filed against the proposed Rs 80 crore plan. The hearing is scheduled for March 22.

Dr G.S. Dhillon, a water resources consultant, has been deeply involved with saving the Sukhna lake. Dr Dhillon was privy to the original design plans of the lake way back in 1958. He says the maladies have grown over the years.

“The three radial gates of 60 feet span and 12 feet depth to regulate the outflow from the lake have not been attended to properly in all these years. The gates must be made leak proof otherwise their purpose is lost. We should go up rather than go down if there is a need to restore the capacity of the lake. If there is flooding upstream, the banks can be raised and it will only cost a few lakhs to do this. Only 3 to 4 inches of silt is being deposited each year. The check dams and forestation have resulted in a small inflow of silt.”

Mr V.K. Bhardwaj, Chief Engineer for the UT Administration, says, “The National Shipbuilding and Design Corporation of India have been asked to make certain modifications in its design. The corporation has been asked to give fresh estimates of the de-silting plan. He adds that with this, “costs will come down.” Mr Bhardwaj also says that other options will be explored.

A former Engineer-In-Chief, Irrigation Department, Haryana Government, Mr S.P. Malhotra, has his own estimates about the cost involved in the de-silting work. He claims that it can be done with a mere Rs 15 crore by emptying the lake or working on it during the dry season. “And even this will not be necessary if the government adopts the scheme of filling the lake with de-silted water, the model of which had been presented last year at the Institute of Engineers.” The plan was proposed at a cost of Rs 50 lakh, a fraction of what the suggested cost is now. Mr Malhotra believes that the work can be completed by June 1, 2005, if the government wants it.

In 2002, the UT Administration raised the maximum water level in the lake to El. (elevation) 1163 ft from the original level of El 1160 ft. At the cost of just under Rs 20 lakh, there was an increase in the storage capacity by 13.7 per cent, raising it from 34 per cent to 47.7 per cent and the water depth of 13 feet, which was considered ample with the prevailing silted bed of El. 1150 ft.

Dr Dhillon believes that the administration needs to appoint independent consultants. Earlier suggestions by Dr A.N. Khosla, then working as the Chairman of the Planning Commission, Government of India, were not implemented completely. He had suggested that “Sedimentation Tanks” should be built to work on the “Still Pond” principle and trap the silt and let clear water flow into the lake. The construction of the sedimentation tanks at the location indicated by Dr Khosla was never taken up.

Similarly, Dr H.L. Uppal, employed at the Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, after retiring from the Punjab Irrigation Deaprtment, was consulted. He had suggested that “a joint approach channel” be created by combining the flows of all the choes and taking measurements for building a “silt excluder” for removing silt from combined flows before it entered the lake. Dr Uppal’s suggestions too were not carried out in toto. No reasons have been given for the partial implementation of these suggestions.

Experts hope that with the communiqué of General Rodrigues, the lake will finally find voices that will save the fate of this beautiful landmark before it is too late.



Ex-servicemen flay Central Govt
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 18
The Indian Ex-Services League, UT, has criticised the Union government for the non fulfillment of its assurances that defence personnel would not be required to spend money on medical treatment under the Ex-Servicemen’s Contributory Health Scheme.

The league also expressed its resentment over the frequent changes in the rules, which have put ex servicemen at a disadvantage vis-a-vis the benefits that could have accrued from scheme.

Brig Sant Singh (retd), president of the league said in a statement that the contributions from ex srvicemen were being charged at rates higher than those of the civilian government employees. He also expressed unhappiness about the cumbersome procedure of refunding of excess charges.

The members criticised the government for dithering on the issues of setting up of the sixth pay Commission. They said that the fifth Pay Commission had recommended that the sixth commission should be set up in 2003.

They demanded that in the interest of justice of the personnel of defence forces, a separate pay commission should be set up immediately.



10 pc profit for MC contractors

Chandigarh, March 18
The Municipal Corporation has decided that contractors organising day markets adjoining apni mandis will get a share of 10 per cent out of the total profit.

In order to give suitable place to rehriwalas, the corporation has decided that day markets will be organised at the venue adjoining apni mandis. Mrs Anu Chatrath, Mayor, has declared 10 per cent of the profit share for contractors and it has been approved by the corporation.

Profit share will be given to the contractor in lieu of all arrangements at the venue of the market. He is expected to maintain cleanliness and provide infrastructure. The corporation will provide mobile toilet vans.

The corporation has decided to invite open applications from contractors. The committee on apni mandis has been asked to work out the finer details of the day markets. TNS



Chander Mohan felicitated
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 18
The Traders Association of Sector 17 (A and B) felicitated Mr Chander Mohan, Deputy Chief Minister of Haryana, at a function here last night.

Addressing the function, Mr Chander Mohan thanked the AICC president, Ms Sonia Gandhi for its elevation to the post of the Deputy Chief Minister. The president of the association, Mr Kamaljit Panchhi, hoped that Haryana would make an overall progress under young leaders like Mr Chander Mohan.



Kambala road closed for work on rail line
Our Correspondent

Mohali, March 18
The road connecting Industrial Area, Phase IX to Kambala and other villages was today closed by Railway officials after taking the police help.

The work on the Chandigarh-Ludhiana rail line has been going on for the past quite some time. The Railway officials had to close the Kambala road as a part of planning and an alternative route had been provided to people coming to Mohali.

But people of the affected villages had been protesting in this regard and the work of the Railway authorities had also been got stalled by them on several occasions. They did not want the road to be closed as it had been there for decades and provided a direct route to people who wanted to come to Mohali.



Farmers flay land price recommendation
Our Correspondent

Mohali, March 18
The Kisan Hit Bachao Committee (Periphery Area) today condemned the recommendation on the price to be given for land being acquired by PUDA in 10 villages.

The convener of the committee, Mr D.P. Singh Baidwan, said the recent meeting of Ropar district officials and representatives of PUDA which recommended the compensation amount for the land was held in the absence of the duly elected representatives of the people, including the MP and the MLA concerned. He described this meeting of the District Land Price Fixation Committee as illegal.

Mr Baidwan said in 1997 the Punjab Government had promised that farmers would be given market rates for land acquired from them. The recent recommendation on the price went against that promise of the government.

Mr Baidwan said the price recommendation exposed the working of government officials, who had not even cared to wait for the report of a high-powered committee set up under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary to look into demands of the farmers to be affected by the land acquisition. 



Scooterist killed in accident
Our Correspondent

Mohali, March 18
Mr Kaushal Malhotra, who hailed from Ghaziabad district and was an employee of Quark, was killed and another person seriously injured when a truck hit the scooter they were riding near the Quark premises on Thursday night. The deceased was returning after his duty along with Gaurav when the truck hit their vehicle and sped away. They were taken to the local Civil Hospital. A case has been registered under Sections 279, 337 and 304-A of the IPC.

Hurt in mishap: Ms Lajwant Kaur, a resident of Phase VII here, was seriously injured when the Hero Puch, two-wheeler she was riding was hit by a car here on Friday. She was going towards Phase VIII here when the car collided with her vehicle and sped away. She was admitted to a private hospital here.

Liquor seized: The Sohana police seized 59 boxes of liquor from a Trax jeep coming from the direction of Chandigarh on Friday. The seizure under the excise laws was made at a police naka set up at the Sohana bus stop. Two persons, Mandeep Singh and Balwinder Singh, were arrested in this connection.

Attack attempt: Mr Jagmohan Singh complained to the police on Thursday that two armed persons made an attempt to attack him on Wednesday. He said that the persons, who were in a white Maruti car, stopped it in front of the vehicle he was driving in the Phase IX, Industrial Area here. He said one of the armed persons opened the driver’s door of his vehicle but he somehow managed to drive away safely. He said he suspected that the persons had been sent by a resident of Sector 47, Chandigarh.



Man commits suicide
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 18
Ran Singh, a 45-year-old-rickshaw puller and a resident of Janta Colony, Sector 25, ended his life by hanging himself at his residence, today.

The police said, Ran Singh was found hanging by his children at around 12 noon. The deceased took the extreme step when no one was at home. His children were playing outside and his wife had gone for some work. He locked the room from inside and hanged himself with a dupatta from the ceiling hook. The suicide was noticed when the children returned home and knocked at the door. Finding no reply from inside after their repeated attempts, one of them peeped from a window and found Ran Singh hanging. The broke open the door and the police was informed about the incident later.

The police said it found no suicide note and the family members of the deceased told them that there was no dispute in the family. He is survived by four sons and two daughters.



Woman booked for filing false report
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 18
The local police has booked a city-based woman, who had allegedly filed a report of a missing passport to obtain a duplicate one for her son, on the charges of cheating.

The police said Gauri Singh, a resident of Sector 44-D, had got separated from her husband Mr Manpreet Singh after some family dispute. She has a five-year-old son from the marriage. After their separation the court had handed over the child’s custody to the mother and also directed her against taking the child abroad. Her son’s passport was lying with her husband Manpreet.

The woman made repeated attempts to obtain the passport from her husband, which he refused to give. She then filed a complaint with the police by submitting a false affidavit mentioning that she had lost the passport. 



Army man commits suicide
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, March 18
An Army man, who had been absent from duty for the past one-and-a-half years, allegedly committed suicide by consuming some poisonous tablets yesterday.

Harinder Singh (25), a constable and resident of Fatehpur Behra village, had came home on a long leave but never rejoined his duty. The defence authorities had declared him absent from duty and asked the local police to enquire about his whereabouts.

According to the police, Harinder Singh allegedly consumed poisonous tablets yesterday. He was rushed to the Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, Chandigarh, as his health deteriorated. After struggling for life for more than six hours he died last night.

The body was handed over to the family after a postmortem examination today.

The Dera Bassi police has initiated inquest proceedings in the case on the complaint of Mr Sant Singh, father of the deceased. In his complaint to the police Mr Sant Singh said that Harinder Singh had been ailing after he came home on leave. Harinder Singh was married for over a year.

He was mentally upset and was undergoing treatment. He mistakenly consumed some poisonous tablets.

Sources in the police revealed that the defence authorities at Ambala Cantt wrote to the Dera Bassi police to inquire from the family and find out what circumstances forced Harinder Singh not to join duty.

Following the directions of the defence authorities, the Dera Bassi police had asked the village panchayat to produce Harinder Singh in the police station for questioning. He was supposed to visit the police station yesterday.


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