C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Congress sway over mining operations in Ghaggar
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 21
The change in government has affected on the mining operations in the Ghaggar river bed and other rivulets in Panchkula district. The mining contractors, who were affiliated with the previous Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) government, have now lost control on mining of river bed material (RBM) to supporters of the newly elected Congress government.

The mining contractors say that the clubbing of all quarries as a unit has brought monopolisation in the trade and thus led to hike in prices of river-bed material like stone and stand. Since all quarries were grouped together and auctioned off to a single firm, any price quoted by the contractors was fixed for the consumers. As a result, price of construction material had increased by five times during the past three years. They say that the quarries should be divided into separate zones so that small contractors can bid for these zones and for allowing competitive prices to consumers. The auction of all 55 quarries is due after the contract expires on March 31, 2005.

Well-placed sources say that contractors owing allegiance to Congress leaders have taken over the firm — Maa Shakti Royalty Company — which had been awarded the contract in 2002. One of the previous contractors was close to a former minister in the INLD government and another partner was close to the top brass in the then INLD government. A senior INLD leader was also a minor partner in this firm.

In fact, there were 34 partners in Maa Shakti Royalty Company. But after the contract was awarded to the firm, the partners owing allegiance to the INLD top bosses refused to share the profits with some partners who collectively had a 40 per cent share in the firm. These partners, who were chucked out after a few months of the contract being awarded in 2002, had started warming up to the Congress leaders after the parliamentary elections last year. Immediately after the Assembly election results were announced on February 27, the push and pulls for gaining control of the mining operations started and after a few minor clashes, the control of all mining in river beds now rests with contractors enjoying the support of Congress leaders.

There are 55 stone quarries in the district and mining contract is given for a period of three years. For the first time in 2002, the Department of Mines and Geology had clubbed 44 quarries as a single unit, saying that this was economically viable. The remaining 11 quarries falling in the Barwala and Raipur Rani area were auctioned in 2001 and this contract expired on March 31, 2004.

It is alleged that after the contract expired in March 2004, mining in these 11 quarries was done illegally for three months till a new contract was awarded for Rs 1.70 crore annually (or a total of Rs 5.10 crore in three years) in June 2004. However, the contractors failed to make monthly payment of contract money to the Department of Mines and this contract was cancelled on October 25, 2004. Since then, the department made at least three bids to auction these quarries, but to no avail. The mining in these quarries is now being done on permits, which are issued for a maximum of 30 days. The mining permits for these were also being awarded to contractors owing allegiance to the INLD. But the latest permit to have been issued on March 11 has now been awarded to the contractors enjoying the support of the present Congress regime. They have formed a separate company by the name of Ramgarh Royalty Company, which has now been issued the permit.

Though officials reason that the auction of these 11 quarries has been unsuccessful as contract money was raised from Rs 1. 20 crore in the last auction (in 2001) to Rs 1.70 crore now. But it is alleged that the contractors, who were close to the political powers in the state, were unwilling to invest the money for the fear that with the change in political leadership, they would lose the contract and their earnest money. Thus, they were pushing for a change in policy, whereby they wanted that the royalty should be reduced and that contract period should be increased from three years to five years. However, before a decision in this regard could be taken by the government, the elections for the Vidhan Sabha were announced and the proposal was stalled.



Heavy showers lash city, suburbs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 21
Chandigarh and its adjoining towns of Mohali and Panchkula received heavy showers this afternoon with the city recording 15 mm of rainfall by 5:30 pm.

The maximum temperature recorded was 24.6° Celsius and the minimum temperature was at 19° Celsius. Less than a 100 km away, Ludhiana recorded 27 mm of rain.

A western disturbance over Jammu & Kashmir and adjoining Himachal Pradesh and an induced upper air cyclonic circle over central Rajasthan extending up to 2.1 km at sea level drove the rains.

The heavy rains clogged drains with leaves that shed naturally at this time of the year. Pools of water formed all over the city with people having to wade through ankle-deep water in some areas. Some die-hard walkers at the lake had to abandon their quest for physical activity when the rain poured down.

The forecast for the region spells light to moderate rainfall or snow for Himachal Pradesh. Rain or thundershowers are anticipated in Haryana and Punjab and hailstorms or thunder squalls with wind speeds exceeding 35 km per hour are likely in isolated places in Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab.

The rains may cause some worry to agriculturalists if the downpours continue in the region. The Indo-Gangetic plains form the most important wheat area. “Too much rain at this time of the year may cause fungus to the crop and may delay harvesting,” says a spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture for Punjab.

The wheat crop is harvested when the grains harden and the straw becomes dry and brittle. “Rains affect the grain formations and due to retention of water the crop gets heavy. Rains like these are accompanied sometimes by high velocity winds which flatten the crop”, believes Dr. R S Mehla, Additional Director, Department of Agriculture, Haryana.

The Met Department in Chandigarh says heavy showers at this time of the year are not unexpected.

The Indian mango flower is intolerant to humidity. Therefore, the flowering groves of mango running through the length of Purva Marg right up to Transport Chowk are bound to have got affected by the rain. According to horticulture experts, unexpected downpours like this during the flowering season could result in large-scale dropping of flowers. The winds accompanying downpours like this weakens the stem and too much moisture in the air causes diseases to set in. The mango flower is particularly sensitive to climactic changes at this time of the year.



Father alleges foul play in daughter’s death
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, March 21
A former sarpanch of Naraingarh Jhungian village has complained to the Inspector General (Patiala Zone) of Punjab Police against his daughter’s in-laws.

In his complaint to the IG, Mr Surjit Singh has alleged that his daughter, Manmohan Kaur was forced to commit suicide by her in-laws for bringing inadequate dowry.

He also alleged that his son-in-law Gurpal Singh, and his father Baldev Singh had been harassing his daughter for dowry even after five years of her marriage.

He said his daughter was married to Gurpal Singh, a resident of Ramgarh Sainia village in Fatehgarh Sahib district in March 2000. After her marriage Manmohan Kaur had complained about harassment by her husband Gurpal Singh and father-in-law Baldev Singh.

He also alleged that her daughter’s in-laws admitted her to the Government Medical College and Hospital in Sector 32, Chandigarh, on March 5 in a critical condition without informing him.

The father have also sent the copies of his complaint to the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Patiala, and the SSP, Fatehgarh Sahib. 



Parents allege favouritism in admissions to MBA course
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 21
The final merit list of the students aspiring to get admission in the MBA course under the NRI sponsored category at the University Business School (UBS) has surprised parents who resented that in many cases the students who had a lower marks in the Common Admission Test (CAT) have managed to score a much higher rank in the final list after the interview and the group discussion.

The complaining parents while talking to The Tribune today alleged that while there is substantial difference in the ranks of the candidates, the final list prepared after adding just 15 marks of the GD and Interview have “marred the chances of their wards getting admission as the ranks are very low.”

“My daughter had a score of around 67 in CAT but her final rank is beyond 300. In the same list there are some candidates who got less score in the CAT but got a final rank within the first 100 in the list. The difference in the ranks is glaring as just 15 marks are for interview and GD and 85 per cent marks are for the written test,” said parents of an aspirant, who requested anonymity and added that they will move the court against the admissions.

Chairman of UBS, Prof Satish Kapoor, while talking to The Tribune, however said due to the very low scores in the CAT written test this year, the difference of the absolute marks is negligible among the candidates, though their scores after interview and GD, differ substantially. This is creating confusion among the parents.

“When the interview panel sits to select the students, they are not provided the lists of their scores in the written test. This is done to avoid any bias. However, this year the actual scores in CAT were very low. That is why, though the percentiles have differed but the difference on the actual scores is not much and the absolute scores of the interview and GDs have made a difference.” He also ruled out any “favouritism’” behind the ranks awarded.



India worried over Pak cricket fans’ disappearance
Sanjay Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 21
India is worried over disappearance of between six and 14 Pakistani nationals who had come to Mohali to watch the first India Pakistan Test.

The Union Ministry of Home has taken the disappearance seriously and issued look-out notices to Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan to find out if those reported missing were in their states.

The police has also gone knocking at the doors of those with whom the Pakistani nationals had put up during their stay in Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula. Interestingly, the Chandigarh Police during its investigation over disappearance has found out that it had got C forms (with particulars of foreigners and their local address) about only 1000 Pakistani. This form is required to be supplied to the police within 24 hours by the person with whom a Pakistani or Bangladeshi national stays.

The police does not have any clue with it as the Pakistani visitors were this time exempt from the police reporting in which they used to be under surveillance at the places they were putting up.

Sources in the Chandigarh Police say there are only six persons who have not yet been found.

While not ruling out suspicion on those Pakistani nationals left behind, the government agencies draw solace in the fact that inquiries from around 20 Pakistani citizens who crossed the border after their scheduled departure from Wagah, revealed most of them could not leave for Pakistan on the scheduled day as they took a chance of visiting Delhi, Agra and Ajmer Sharief, which their visas did not permit. Couple of them fell ill and lost their passports.

The sources said 34 Pakistanis were reported missing on March 14 when most of them were scheduled to leave India.

However, 20 of them later surfaced and were sent back to Pakistan through the border post.

None of the states has yet reported registration of any case of overstay as intention of those sent back were found friendly but “adventurist.”

The sources in the police and intelligence agencies said they were impressed with Pakistani citizens’ general reciprocation of Indian friendship.



Quark to hold public hearing on environment impact issue
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 21
Quark would soon be holding a public hearing in Mohali as part of the environment impact assessment study. The study has been undertaken by the company in compliance with the Government of India notification on the issue.

Stating this, executive director of the company P. S. Sehgal today stressed that Quark would abide by all laws set by the government for ventures like theirs. “We have started the process of getting the requisite approval of the Ministry of Environment and Forests from the Government of India. There was initially some confusion if Quark came within the purview of the notification but it seems the Government of India clarified the matter only by October,” he said.

The Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) had refused to give Quark an NOC on the grounds that the company did not have the requisite environment impact assessment (EIA) clearance in compliance with a July 2004 notification of the Government of India. Stating that Quark City would have to get the clearance from the Centre for the project, the Chairman of the PPCB, Mr Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, today reiterated that Quark’s venture did come under the purview of the notification.

The said notification issued on July 7, 2004, has to be complied with by all construction projects in the country with an investment of Rs 50 crore and above or which would employ over a 1000 persons or which would discharge 50000 litres of sewage every day.

Once nod from the public is given to Quark, the pollution board would be granting the company an NOC and forwarding Quark’s case to a special committee that has been constituted to consider project that are covered under the GOI notification.



Passing Thru

What genre of writing interests you?

So far, eight of my books have been published. Out of these, three are travelogues, three are short story books and two books are on Punjabi poetry and I also work for the ‘Daily Khabren’, one of the most reputed newspapers of Lahore. I comment on editorial columns.

This being your fourth visit to Chandigarh, is there something special that brings you back here?

There is something very reassuring about this city. On every visit, I take back a lot of love and affection from Chandigarhians. They are adorable and well-mannered. Moreover, there is no hassle in coming here again and again as we the people of Pakistan’s Punjab share the same language and the same features with the people here. We also have similar eating and dressing habits.

What are the major differences between Lahore and Chandigarh?

This place is culturally more vibrant than Lahore. Back home, the so called western influences can only be seen among the upper class Pakistanis, but here it seems all pervading.

— Akash Ghai



Chandigarh Calling
Spring rain

JUST as the sun was showing its heat in the merry month of March and people had taken out their summer wear, the weather gods turned benevolent. First came the cool breeze, then the clouds and finally the rain. So light shawls and silks are being pulled out of the trunks again. Spring rain has the power to instil romance even in the most prosaic hearts. The cool climate is welcome and city folks are now saying that the sun will turn its heat again only after the festival of Holi. However, the rain this month saddens the tillers of the land as the wheat crop now needs the sunshine to ripen to gold.

Brave hearts

Mention the word snake and children are bound to get afraid but not two little boys of a jhuggi colony in Ram Darbar. Rakesh and Vijay had to face an unwelcome guest in their abode while their parents were away to work. Seeing the four-feet-long snake they did not scream, shout or run out. Instead they took sticks and dealt with it. The brave hearts happily pose before the Tribune photographer Karam Singh with the trophy in their hands on Thursday afternoon. Circumstances often instil courage in young hearts and so it is with the twain.

Sense and sensitivity

Barely out of her teens, a GCG-11 student volunteered at the Olympic for Special children held some time back. She wants to share how this simple act changed her perception about life: “More youngsters should volunteer to help with special children. It is a realisation to see how little things like watching balloons fly can bring a smile to their faces. One also learns to count one’s blessings and value whatever we have.” A young city needs to sensitise its youngsters. Before you know Bashir Badr’s ‘Koi haath bhi na milaega miloge gale jo tapaak se, Yeh naye mizaj ka shehar hai, yahan faasle se mila karo’, might become a city with a heart. How about taking time off to take your kid to an outing with a difference?

Tricky terrain

What happens when a monk meets men in khaki? Sparks fly, of course. The occasion was a panel discussion in the Government College, Sector 46, on a provocative topic, “Monk, media and the men in khaki, the problem of guardianship.” An interesting debate focused on the responsibility of the media and the role the police. The atmosphere became charged when the swamiji from the Ramakrishna mission in his lecture mentioned how Vivekananda had sublimated his sexual energy. Another panelist was quick to retort that this was ‘abnormal.’ The swamiji was equally emphatic that if he had been invited, he had every right to express himself and a right to be heard. “When you call a monk, you should be prepared to listen to him.” Valid point. So the monk made it and departed even before the discussion had ended. Defining morality is indeed entering a tricky terrain.

Man with polish

He does not sing the song from the famous Raj Kapoor film of yesteryear ‘Boot Polish’_ Ham matwale polish wale. But meet Rangi, a cobbler working from the market corridor of Sector 17, and one is pleased by the joy this 46-year man takes in his work. In fact people come seeking him out for he has earned a reputation for excellent workmanship. He came to the city some four decades ago with his father from Rajasthan. Hardship made him take to this trade when still a boy. However, he always did a sincere job of it. In fact he is thrilled when some well-known Punjabi singer comes to him for a shoeshine. “Maine Pakistani mehmanon ke joote bhi khoob lishkaye,” he says. The reward for the hard work is that his children are going to school.

Road report

A road that needs urgent attention is the one leading from the Sector 31 and Sector 32 crossing to the Sector 48 and 49 chowk. This is also the road that is used by the residents of Phase 9 and 10 of Mohali. Popularly known as the truckers’ road, as trucks on the Punjab-Himachal route use it, it is in bad shape with potholes, cracks and scattered gravel. Driving down this road is risking an accident. Will some VIP if not VVIP plan to pass this way so that the Chandigarh Administration may take the trouble of repairing it?

Write people

Writers are the right kind of people to educate the neo-literates about words. It was with this purpose that the Regional Resource Centre for Adult Continuing Education in Panjab University, Chandigarh, organised a five-day workshop last week of Punjabi writers. The aim of the workshop was to generate literature for the neo-literates. The writers well realised that while writing for the literates came naturally to them, a greater effort was required in writing for the neo-literates. Among those who participated in the workshop were some well-known writers like Santokh Singh Dhir, Mohan Bhandari, Rama Rattan and Pal Kaur.

Return of Karmawali

Many years ago a Tribune story of a mother and son, separated at the time of the Partition, meeting again had inspired city-based Urdu writer Kashmiri Lal Zakir to write a novel called Karmawali. This novel caught the attention of famous theatre director M.K. Raina and he turned it into a play with artistes of the repertory of the National School of Drama. The play had in the lead well-known actress Seema Biswas of Bandit Queen and Kamal Tewari had made the music. Now a city director is taking a fresh look at it. Zulfikar Khan has scripted it afresh and he calls it Safar Ik Dard Ka.


A wayward bull set about trying to break the gate of the Sector 45 gaushala last week. Vijay Kumar, chowkidar, tried to capture it. But the bull got furious at this interruption of his choice of freedom at midnight. Finally he was captured with the help of the staff of the Municipal Corporation. But all this was accomplished after a keen bullfight. The chowkidar reveals that he has often had to battle with bulls that turn rebellious at night.

Teyyam from Kerala

Folks will get a chance to watch the traditional ritual dance form of Kerala called Teyyam for the first time in the city. The occasion for this rare fare from God’s own country is the anniversary of the Ayyapa Temple in Sector 31. Artistes are coming all the way from Kerala to perform it. A procession with Teyyam artistes performing will pass through Sectors 31 and Sectors 47 and then culminate at the Ayyapa Temple. Teyyam is an art form of north Kerala that combines dance, music and martial arts. It is a centuries old tradition that has been kept alive till date. While the Malayalis are thrilled at the chance of witnessing the ritual, others too are curious. The daylong celebrations will end with a community meal in the evening followed by fireworks.

Costly call

Mobile addicts better be warned that they should not use the mobile while driving for the call may prove too costly. For one it is a driving hazard and for the other it could mean a heavy fine. Recently, a friend was fined a rather auspicious amount of Rs 1100 by the city cops for ‘mobiling’ while driving.

— Sentinel



Ranbaxy told to improve fire-fighting capability
Kulwinder Sangha

Mohali, March 21
The Director, Local Government, Punjab, has asked the Municipal Council here to get the recommendations of an eight-member sub-committee in connection with fire fighting arrangements at Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd implemented at the earliest.

It is learnt that the Director, Mr G. Vajralingum, directed the Executive Officer (EO) of the civic body, Mr H.B. Garg, today to get a compliance report from Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd asking them for an early implementation of the recommendations made by a Fire Station Officer, the EO and six municipal councillors in August, 2003. In case the industrial unit failed to implement the recommendations, it should be brought to the notice of the Directorate.

After visiting the factory on August 19, 2003, the sub-committee had pointed out that though the fire fighting arrangements at Ranbaxy were good, they were not adequate enough to fight a major fire. A sense of insecurity prevailed in the minds of people living close to the factory. As such Ranbaxy should equip itself with modern techniques to fight a major fire.

A major fire had taken place in Ranbaxy on June 11, 2003 which took the lives of a few persons, apart from creating panic among people living in the surrounding areas. After the fire incident, the civic body had constituted an eight-member team to inspect the fire fighting arrangements at the factory. Apart from the EO and the fire station officer, the other members of the team were Mr Rajinder Prasad, vice-president of the council, Mrs Daljit Kaur, Mr Ghanshyam Bansal, Mrs Indu Sehgal, Mr Bharat Bhushan Maini and Mrs Manmohan Kaur, all councillors.

The members of the committee had pointed out that the unit should be shifted from the residential area in public interest. Till the shifting of the unit was not done, some improvements should be brought about in the fire fighting arrangements.

The committee suggested that the pump house at Plot No A-8 should be shifted to a more safe place, exposed chemical units be covered with a water sprinkler system, separate censor systems for chemicals, solvents and gases be provided, independent remote control foam monitor for all the three units, a deduction system for all the units according to the National Building Code, installation of public address systems, provision for adequate number of foam monitors and yard hydrants, training to use fire fighting equipment to the staff and holdings of a mock drill once a month.

Mr Kulwant Singh, president of the council, told Chandigarh Tribune that the recommendations of the sub-committee, as desired by the Director, would be got implemented as they were in the interest of the public.



Old-age home residents entertained
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 21
The staff and students of SAS Institute of Information and Technology here extended a unique gesture towards senior citizens by presenting an entertainment programme for the inmates of the old age home Sector 15, Chandigarh.

Col Karamjeet Singh, Director of the Institute mentioned that it was going to be a regular feature and students will avail every opportunity to interact with other old age homes, paraplegic homes and other such sections of society in the area.



98 file nomination for ZP poll
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 21
As many as 98 candidates have filed their nomination papers for the Zila Parishad (ZP) elections to be held here on April 9. Three forms were rejected during the scrutiny of forms carried out today, while the decision on the nomination forms of a woman candidate from Ward No 2 has been kept pending.

Deputy Commissioner, Brijendra Singh informed that the maximum number of forms (17) were filed from Ward No 9, while the minimum number of nominations were for Ward No 6.

The Deputy Commissioner also informed that after the scrutiny of nominations for the Panchayat Samiti, Sarpanch and Panches, five forms for Panchayat Samiti members, 11 of sarpanches and 31 of panches were rejected.



BJYM protests denial of visa to Modi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 21
The local unit of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) today organised a demonstration against the denial of US visa to the Gujarat Chief Minister, Mr Narendra Modi, at Sector 17 Plaza here.

In a statement issued here today, the state BJYM president, Mr Davesh Moudgil, while criticising the US action, said it was not proper on the part of the USA to level “baseless and unfounded allegations” against a person holding a constitutional post in India.

The USA had no right to interfere in the internal affairs of India on the pretext of protecting human rights. The statement termed the decision as an “attack” on democratic institutions.

Urging the USA to reconsider the decision, Mr Moudgil said it should respect India’s sovereignty.

An effigy of the US Government was burnt on the occasion.



Fauji Beat
Why this callousness towards the Army?

Since the government has not issued any orders to exempt CSD canteen stores from the value added tax (VAT), the ex-servicemen are perturbed over it. No doubt, in the Budget speech it was said that the CSD canteen stores would be exempted from VAT, but nothing has emerged from it so far. VAT will come into effect on April 1. Therefore, the price of liquor and grocery stores in the CSD canteens will be the same as in the open market.

In India, defence personnel get a step-motherly treatment in all spheres of life. The height of the government’s callousness is that unlike all other government employees, a majority of the defence personnel are not paid 50 per cent of their last drawn pay as pension because they are forced to retire at young age.

What the Army can promise to its young aspirants is unsettled and risk-packed life and early retirement. What the government promises to you after retirement is total neglect and unemployment, gradual withdrawal of all concessions and loss of prestige. If this was not so, then your pension would not have been dropped from over 85 per cent of your pay from 1947 to around 40 per cent now. Nor would have the order of precedence of the Army ranks been brought down so low.

Man behind best hospital

Having been declared as the best Command Hospital in 2003, the Command Hospital (Western Command), Chandimandir, was presented the rolling trophy along with a cash prize of Rs 2 lakh by the Defence Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, on March 16. Never has any Commandant of this hospital earned so much praise from his clientele as Major-Gen B.Sadananda (now Lieut-Gen).

Soon after taking over the Command Hospital on May 1, 2002, he introduced a new work culture in it. For him nothing was more important than the patient satisfaction.

So impressed was the Headquarters Western Command by this hospital’s new culture that the Commandants of all the military hospitals in the Western Command, including the Army Hospital Delhi Cantonment were called here on August 12, 2002. They were shown the working of this hospital and were told to adopt the same culture in their hospitals.

Chandigarh polyclinic needs upgradation

The Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) polyclinic at Chandigarh is Class ‘C’. It is meant to cater to 5,000 to 10,000 officers, JCOs, other ranks, their dependents and defence widows who are ECHS members. The strength of ex-servicemen in and around Chandigarh and Mohali is more than one lakh. Add to this, their dependants and widows and the number goes to over 1.50 lakh.

Most of the members from Himachal Pradesh, Patiala and some other areas in Punjab needing treatment at Fortis Hospital, Mohali and the PGI, Chandigarh, are also referred to this polyclinic, which involves complete paper work and accounting for them. More hospitals such as Silver Oaks Hospital, Mohali and Mukat Hospital, Chandigarh, have been recently empanelled. The ECHS members strength is also increasing with every passing day. The workload of this polyclinic has increased so much that extra staff had to be provided to it from the Ropar polyclinic, which is Class ‘B’. And where the strength of ECHS members is much less.

To enable this polyclinic to cope with the increased workload, it must be upgraded to Class ‘B’. The up-gradation of this polyclinic will result in substantial saving to the government. For, many members who are now referred to diagnostic centres for investigation and treatment will be treated here.

— Pritam Bhullar



Special prayers mark Palm Sunday
Gayatri Rajwade
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 21
The most solemn week of Christianity begins with Palm Sunday or the Sunday of Passion, commemorating Christ’s triumphant arrival in Jerusalem.

Special prayers were held in all churches. In the Orthodox Syrian Church, the priest led the faithful as they took a round of the church holding aloft palm leaves.This is the week leading to Easter Sunday during which Christians commemorate Jesus Christ’s suffering, death on the cross and resurrection. “Easter Sunday is more holy, more important than Christmas. Christianity begins with the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ,” says Father Thomas of the Catholic Church in Sector 19.

The hallowed period begins with Lent, a 40-day liturgical season that initiates a sacred part of the Christian year. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday — a day of penitence to clean the soul before the Lent fast — and ends on Easter.

It was customary for many ancient communities to require a 40-day period of fasting, discipline and study for candidates who were to be baptized on the evening before Easter. It is probably meant to recall Christ’s 40-day ordeal in the wilderness after his baptism.

Many Christians today do not observe the 40-day fast but abstinence on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are the norms. Ms Divine Costa is an 82-year-old devout Catholic. She fasts for the whole period, abstaining from meat, fish and milk and eats only frugal food. She says, she is very particular and eats, “what I believe the Lord could eat during His 40 days of prayer.” Her grandchildren are not so particular but “go to mass on the Saturday before Easter.”

The three days before Easter Sunday are traditionally considered to be parts of an unbroken liturgical event called the Triduum (Latin for Three Days).

The first part begins on the evening of Maundy Thursday remembered as the day of the Last Supper during which Jesus was betrayed. The word ‘Maundy’ is derived from the Latin phrase mandatum novum meaning “new commandment.” It refers to the Lord’s words to His apostles as recorded in the Bible of Saint John: A new command I give you; love one another.”

Good Friday, the second day of the Triduum, marks the crucifixion of Christ and “is a time of serious contemplation and prayer for the sacrifice that the Lord made for us,” says Ms Veena Pinto, a housewife. Holy Saturday is marked by “a special midnight mass” says Father Thomas. “The congregation holds candles blessed by the bishop. This is the Light of Christ, a new light coming into the world on Sunday.”

Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the day is marked with joyous celebrations amongst the Christians in the city. It has been suggested that many of the modern Easter’s symbols such as coloured eggs and Easter Bunny are cultural remnants of spring festivals that could be found among the Germans, Persians, Romans and Jews in ancient times.



Eight bomb-like objects found
Our Correspondent

Panchkula, March 21
Panic gripped Firojahri village after the villagers found eight explosives in the nearby forest area, last evening. The villagers found eight bomb-like things in the forest area and the news spread in the village.

According to Dr R.C. Mishra, Superintendent of Police (SP), Panchkula, Mr Bhag Singh, a resident of Mattanwala village, informed the police about six bomb-like items resemble pichkaris.

Following the information, the police contacted the Defence authorities at Chandimandir and a team of Haryana police personnel and bomb disposal squad was sent to the site.

The bomb disposal squad found that out of the eight explosive substances, six were live bomb-shells while the rest were defused. The police has taken the bombs into possession.



Readers Write
Flats for common man, a distant dream now

I wish to bring to the notice of the authorities concerned the difficulties being faced by the middle class people desiring to own flats set up by the cooperative housing societies.

Since the time of enormous increase in the prices of real estate, the common man with meagre means is on the look out for owning flats being developed by various group housing societies. But even in such cases one has to face many hardships. Some of the major problems related to this segment, which require immediate solution are:

1. For acquiring even a small flat in a group housing societies; a salaried persons, who is always short of funds, has to raise loan from banks or financial institutions. Banks demand a valid title in his name for entertaining his request for the loan. The Chandigarh Administration had banned the sale/purchase under group housing schemes till the announcement of policy guidelines in this regard. However, it has not so far come out with any policy for the transfer (substitution) of title from one person to another even on the payment of full value of the share.

2.The proposal of the authorities to fix a transfer fee at the rate of Rs 4 lakh for Category A and Rs 2 lakh for category B flats is also unjustified since the transfer of other properties attract stamp duty at the rate of 6.5 per cent of the value of the property. And in case of flats it should not be in any case more than the rates applicable in the case of flats constructed by the Chandigarh Housing Board.

I request the authorities to issue guidelines in this regard as per expectation of the common man.

Sanjeev Jain, Chandigarh

Toilets in the park

A set of toilets formed a part of the premises leased to the Hot Millions eating joint by HUDA in the Nirjhar Vatika Park, Sector 5, Panchkula. With the closure of the eating joint, set of toilets too has been closed down. The visitors to the park face a great inconvenience in the absence of toilets there. Women are the worst sufferers. Attention of the HUDA officials has been drawn many times to this problem, but to no avail. HUDA is requested to construct at least two sets of toilets in the park.

D. R. Tayal, Panchkula

Temple sans facilities

The condition of the road in front of the Mata Kali temple at Kalka is deplorable. I appeal to the authorities concerned to improve it. The hillock overlooking the temple should also be beautified. The residents are presently using it as a garbage dump.

Proper parking facilities need to be provided for the vehicles. This will ease congestion and ensure smooth traffic flow on the national highway. Roadside vending should be curbed. The animal menace should also be checked.

Dr Pawan Dwivedi, Panchkula



Youth clubs involved to check drug abuse
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 21
With drug and human-trafficking cases surfacing in the region, the Chandigarh Administration has roped in around 928 members of 27 rural youth clubs to keep an eye on these unlawful activities.

A direction in this regard has been given to the Nehru Yuva Kendra, Block Development and Panchayat Officers by Deputy Commissioner Arun Kumar, an offcial press release said here today.



Vet pharmacists to hold rally
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 21
Members of the Veterinary Pharmacists Union, Punjab, on Monday decided to organise a rally outside the Office of the Director, Animal Husbandry, on March 28 in support of their demands.

Mr Gurcharan Singh, general secretary, said the rally will be organised after the failure of talks with the government functionaries in Chandigarh.



Four vehicles stolen in city
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 21
Two Scorpio SUVs and two scooters were stolen today in the city, according to the police.

Mr Nairinder Pal Singh of Phase VII, Mohali, reported to the police that his Scorpio SUV (PB-44-A-9044) was stolen from outside House Number 459, Sector 20-A, during the night of March 19. In a similar incident, Mr Dilpreet Singh of Sector 21filed a complaint that his Scorpio SUV (PB-12-G-9500) was stolen from outside his residence during night of March 19. Two separate cases of thefts were registered in the Sector 19 police station.

Mr Mahesh Kumar of Maloya Colony reported to the police that his scooter (CH-03-D-8651) was stolen from Sector 24 during the night of March 17. In another incident, Mr Kamal Prakash of Sector 40-A filed a complaint that his Kinetic Honda scooter (CH-01-(T)-6764) was stolen from a temple in Sector 35-C, yesterday. Two separate cases of thefts were registered at the Sector 36 police station.

Medicines stolen: Mr Surinder pal Singh of Dhariwal village in Gurdaspur district complained to the police that 29 boxes of medicines were stolen from his truck. The police said the truck was coming from Mumbai. The driver, while unloading the truck in the transport area, noticed that the tarpaulin covering the truck was torn and the boxes of medicines were missing. A case of theft was registered at the Sector 26 police station.

Hit and run: Kiran (6), a resident of Colony Number 4, suffered injuries when a Trax (HR-37(T)-0744) hit him in Phase I, Industrial Area, on March 19. Parmila, the mother of the victim, told the police that the driver of the vehicle sped away from the hospital after admitting her son there. Karan reportedly suffered a fracture in his leg. A case of negligent driving was registered against the driver at the Industrial Area police station. 



Four held for stealing
Our Correspondent

Mohali, March 21
Four persons were arrested by the police on the charge of theft here last night.

According to the police, two persons, Chotte and Anil, residents of Amb Sahib Colony, Phase X, were arrested on the dividing road of Phase X and XI.

They had stolen an electric motor of 3 hp from a workshop of GREF in Phase XI on the intervening night of March 6 and March 7. Two persons had been arrested earlier in connection with the same theft and were in judicial custody.

The other arrested persons were Sandip Singh of Mohali village and Kulwinder Singh of Shahimajra village. The police recovered a stolen scooter and mobile phones from them.



Travel agent arrested
Our Correspondent

Mohali, March 21
The police has arrested a travel agent from Delhi who had duped residents of lakhs of rupees.

It is alleged that Manmohan had collected lakhs of rupees from people on the pretext of sending them abroad. Complaints in this regard had been made to the police. No arrest has been made so far.



Two drug peddlers arrested
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 21
The local police today arrested two alleged drug peddlers, including a woman, who were found possessing 100 gm of smack in a bag.

A man who had given the police a slip on March 13, leaving behind 3.4 kg of ganja in his vehicle, was also arrested today.

Sukhpreet Kaur (37), a resident of Sultanwind in Amritsar district, was arrested on a tip-off by the police at a picket near Tagore Theatre, Sector 18, here.

The police recovered 100 gm of smack from her. It said the suspect was the mother of four children.

A case was registered against her in the Sector 19 police station.

She would be produced in a local court tomorrow.

According to the police, she was to deliver the contraband to an unknown person in Sector 41.

The woman was drawn to the trade because of easy money involved in it.

The woman informed the police that her husband was a drug addict and that is how she knew where the drug could be procured from.

When she went to buy drugs, she realised that if she could pass it on to somebody, she could make money killing to sustain her children.

The police is trying to confirm if the woman had earlier also made contraband deliveries in the city.

According to the police, this trade is going on at a large scale in the border area to which the woman belonged.



Mohali dream destination for IT companies
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 21
Quark, Infosys and Dell are already here and Convergys Corp is all set in to come in by the year end. “We have done a good job in marketing Mohali as an IT destination and have brought in a lot of investment in Punjab, said the Quark head Mr Fred Ebrahimi, during an informal chat at the inauguration of Dell’s third customer contact centre here today”.

Since the market is opening, Mohali by virtue of its strategic location provides a good market for software business and information technology service provider. Talking about his dream project, Quark City, Mr Fred said, “The notion of integrated environment is very appealing as everything from work to shopping and entertainment would be available on the same premises.”

Unlike big cities like Bangalore, an executive would not have to waste three hours going for a hair cut and cheating his spouse or employer for here he will be able to take a cut in the shopping centre and be back to work in a few minutes or do any other job, he explained. This also enhances the productivity of the workers.

The integrated township to be completed in three-four years time will boast of the most modern concept in planning, design and structures, he said while claiming that the buildings here would be better than anywhere else in the world. Besides, the IT companies the Quark City will have a wide range of buildings for its residential areas, shopping-cum entertainment plaza, multiplex, a five-star hotel, finishing college, a cultural centre etc. The township will confirm to the standards of the United States Green Building Council in an attempt to attain the platinum level LEED certification for the entire township.

Commenting on the infrastructure, he said infrastructure in Chandigarh and the satellite township of Mohali was better than that in Bangalore. In fact, big companies are making a beeline for Mohali as it offers talented work force and high quality of life. “We too are setting up another state-of-the-art building, next to Dell by the yearend in the township,’’ said Mr Fred.



Dell team raring to go
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 21
A call centre is as good as the voices behind the phones. And the 300 young girls and boys who have been employed by Dell to man its International Call Centre from Mohali a raring to go. The centre goes live on March 28, and these youngsters are all trained and ready.

Thrilled that Dell had opened its own call centre in North India, majority of the youngsters are from the region. “We had been working for Dell through its outsource call centres in Gurgaon but now we would work here. It’s a home coming for me,” said Gurjit.

For those who are from Chandigarh IT colleges, it is like a dream come true. “I could never have imagined that I would be working for a company like Dell so close home, said Bhupinder Singh.

For many others it really does not matter where you work as long as you get to work with a big name like Dell. “We are on a project here from Bangalore Dell and it is fun working with the company,” said another employee.

Rajiv Kaushik who has been with Dell for four years said, “I am the oldest Dell employee”.

Dressed in white uniforms during the much-awaited opening, the youngsters cheered through the entire inaugural ceremony today putting life and verve to an otherwise quite occasion. Even the Chief Minister, Punjab, Capt Amarinder Singh, asked them to cheer for him once again after ending his speech. 



‘City better suited as IT destination’
Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 21
When Mr Michael S. Dell, Chairman, Board of Directors of DELL, America’s Information Technology (IT) giant, greets an audience with folded hands saying, ‘Sat Sri Akal’, it means that the world has started taking the potential of Punjabis in the area of IT seriously. And this is exactly what Mr Dell told mediapersons from across the country. “We came here to look at the available talent” and Mr Dell has not been disappointed.

“Chandigarh is certainly better than Bangalore”, Mr Fred Ebrahimi, owner of Quark, told reporters. “It takes one and a half hours to get a hair cut in Bangalore and that time has to come out of either the employer’s time or the family time, in both cases someone is being cheated. So, Chandigarh is certainly a better choice as compared to other IT destinations in India”.

It was Mr Ebrahimi’s advice that brought Mr Dell and his company to set up base here. Mr Dell made no bones about how excited he was to be present personally when the Mohali Customer Contact Centre was inaugurated by the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today.

Clubbed with a select few “richest Americans under 40’, Mr Dell flew in straight from California to Delhi by his private jet this morning and following quick immigration clearances, he arrived at the Chandigarh Airport and from there, he drove straight to the Quark City that has the latest DELL address. This is the third customer care centre in India, the other two being in Bangalore and Hyderabad. The security arrangements were handled by DELL, barring the handling of traffic by the Mohali police. “In fact, the Punjab police restricted itself to the security of the Punjab Chief Minister, while that of Mr Dell was handled by his own staff”, a security official said.

During his brief stay at DELL here, he addressed the employees and besides presiding over the inaugural function and sharing the dais with the Punjab CM, he held a meeting with top functionaries of the state and his company with whom he also spent some moments during lunch. Later he flew back to California. But not without taking with him a replica of the Golden Temple that was presented to him.

For once, Capt Amarinder Singh, too, was seen doing Chandra Babu Naidu’s things. “We will make Punjab besides an agriculture state, an IT destination”, he announced. Bio-technology and other new fields are being explored by Punjab, he said. He received a thunderous applause from the 300-odd DELL employees forcing him to comment “this shows you are all Punjabis here”. The CM received applause because most people thought that it was Capt Amarinder Singh who had opened the gates of Punjab to IT. “We are late entrants in the IT field, but we have made enough headway and will soon catch up with Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka”, Capt Amarinder Singh said.

Despite all the euphoria, Mr Dell was quite secretive about the operational matter. He did not disclose the quantum of investments the company would make in the region, terming it as the “company’s internal matter”. Answers to his company’s expansion plans and other related issues did not give any substantial information.

The entire inauguration ceremony was shown through video-conferencing to employees of DELL offices in Bangalore and Hyderabad.



Private sector’s role in healthcare stressed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 21
“The State Government is keen on partnership between public and private sectors for providing quality, easily accessible and affordable health services to people of Punjab.”

This was stated by Health and Family Welfare Minister, Punjab, R.C. Dogra, addressing participants at a conference on “Healthcare Industry: Status and Emerging Opportunities in Punjab” organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Punjab State Council, here today.

Mr Dogra stated that in the private sector, resources were aplenty and the skill to manage disease well, especially in emergency situations it is more efficient. “Latest medical equipment is available with the private sector, which supplements and supports the Government Sector. This public private partnership can help us achieve better health status for people of our State”, he added.

Urging the private sector to keep the cost of medical treatment within the reach of common people Mr Dogra emphasized the need of quality assurance particularly quality of care being provided by unqualified personnel. Private sector, in spite of all issues, can make enormous contribution by way of helping the Government address priority health goals by disseminating information on preventive and promotive health care, he mentioned.

“Punjab Government is working out modalities for a health insurance scheme to meet rising health costs and to reduce out of pocket expenditure on health by the poor,” he informed.

Chief Secretary, Punjab, Jai Singh Gill, said that the enhanced network of healthcare in Punjab was better and more effective than in most of other states. He accentuated the concern of “value for money” in the sector.

Mr Gill, expressed the Government’s desire to outsource the non-clinical activities. He also assured the industry that if more and more public-private partnership proposals are received by the Government, an autonomous regulatory body for healthcare can be thought of.

Mr Harpal Singh, Convener, Infrastructure Development Panel, CII Punjab State Council urged the state government to create more funds for the development of the healthcare sector in the state. He also called upon the need of focusing on good health in the school systems.

Mr Rakesh B Mittal, Chairman, CII Northern Region, said, “CII strongly feels that for the healthcare sector to augment its deliverables, the need is to reorient India’s healthcare strategy and strengthen linkages between the Government and the private sector participants”.

With most of the state governments including Punjab, facing problem of budgetary support, private sources will continue to be the largest component of healthcare spending, he further mentioned. 



New bank chairman
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, March 21
Mr Prem Chand Bijanpur, director of Land Mortgage Bank, Dera Bassi, was elected Chairman of the bank, here today. Mr Prem Chand, replaced Mr Sukhbir Singh Saini, another director of the bank. The directors of the bank today hold a meeting and elected replaced Mr Saini. Out of eight directors, six directors attended the meeting and took the decision.

Mr Chetan Singh Fatehpur was also elected as vice-chairman of the bank.


HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |