C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


MC to tax traders running shops from homes
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 23
The municipal corporation has decided to levy property tax on traders running business ventures from residential premises. These premises are all illegal shops which are banned by the UT Administration. A senior officer of the corporation said stopping shopkeepers from running businesses illegally from their homes was the job of the Administration. 

“Since these businesses are being carried on in the areas governed by the corporation, we have decided to levy tax,” he said.

The officer said, “We don’t have the right to regularise such structures. We don’t even have the power to ask them to shut down. We can only charge property tax as in the case of all business outlets in the city. Letters seeking payment of the property tax have been forwarded to all identified centres of commercial activity being run from residential areas of the city”.

The official said there was nothing wrong in the MC charging property tax from these shopkeepers because they were paying commercial rates for electricity and water services in their establishments. These charges are levied by the Administration. In case these are scrapped “we will stop charging the tax”, he added.

Nearly 5,000 out of a total of approximately 10,000 commercial sites in the city have deposited the tax. As February 10 was the last date for depositing the property tax at a rebate of 10 per cent, tax payers who are late are paying 25 per cent extra than the original rates.

“Strict action, including sealing of premises” could be taken against business enterprises who fail to deposit the tax by a date to be fixed by the corporation. The corporation, at the moment, does not have a complete list of all business ventures. A survey is currently being conducted for identifying all commercial sites which will be taxed by the corporation.

Scores of commercial sites in the city are a bone of contention for possession between the owners and the tenants. They are fighting legal battles in the courtrooms. No tax has been paid by either of the parties in the majority of cases. The MC official said, “We are interested only in money. Any of the parties can make the payments. The premises whose dues are not cleared can be sealed”.

The corporation will forward the demand notices to all business establishments in Sector 17 on Monday. “The survey for the shops in Sector 17 is complete and a similar exercise will be undertaken for all other sectors. The corporation will first focus on the sectors witnessing more commercial activity, including Sectors 22, 35, 34 and 21 among others.

The corporation will get 50 per cent extra share of finances from the Administration on the amount of tax collected through the property tax and it will be one of the major sources of income.



Husband, in-laws booked in ‘suicide’ case
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 23
Harassed by repeated accusations of having a “bad character” by her husband and in-laws, 27-year-old Tina is suspected to have ended her life by consuming pesticides at her Kumhar Colony house.

The police today registered a case of abetment to suicide under Section 306 of the IPC against her husband, Satbir, father-in-law, Amar Singh and mother-in-law, Bala on a complaint lodged by the mother of the deceased, Ms Chandrawati. Ms Chandrawati alleged that her daughter was forced to take the extreme step by the accused, who had been harassing her by repeatedly alleging that she had a bad character. The mother of the woman also alleged that her daughter was regularly beaten up by her husband and in-laws.

Tina, mother of three sons, is reported to have consumed pesticides at her home at around 11:30 am yesterday. She was rushed to the General Hospital, Sector 16, where she died after about an hour. Tina was married to Satbir on May 8, 1998. Satbir is working as a peon in a private company.

The police said the body was lying is the mortuary of the General Hospital and a postmortem would be conducted tomorrow. 



Complicated MBA selection criteria has parents fuming
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 23
At Panjab University, Common Admission Test (CAT) scores have little meaning. Admission to the University Business School (UBS), it seems, wholly and solely depends on the performance in the interview and that is what has some of the candidates all worked up about the criteria.

The merit list of the UBS, put up recently, has resulted in many a long faces among the candidates and their parents on account of this “discrepancy” where high scorers of the CAT exam have been placed way below those scoring lesser percentiles.

How the merit list is arrived at

Tarun Saini scored 84.98 percentile and 23.51 per cent while Aditya Arora, with a CAT score of 67.9 percentile scored 16.22 per cent in the exam. This implies that the university would have taken into account 85 per cent of the percentage score, meaning thereby that while Tarun scores 19.98 out of 85, Aditya is merely six marks behind him at a score of 13.78.

To this score, the university adds marks scored in the group discussion and personal interview out of a total of 15. This gives the total tally of marks and the merit list is prepared accordingly. And, that is why Tarun, today, is placed at the 89th position despite a higher score in CAT while Aditya is ranked ahead of him at the 78th position in the final list.

This criterion of the Department has come under fire from aggrieved parents who allege that while CAT scores were being overlooked, the university is trying to “accommodate” others with connections through the 15 marks facility.

A parent, Mr V.K. Sood, rues,” My son scored 91.5 percentile and is placed 300th on the merit list while those scoring 87 percentile have made it among the first 120 in the merit list. This only implies that we have been thrown out of competition by giving one or two marks while the others have scored as high as 14 marks. By giving more weightage to the GD and interview, the department has been able to get its ‘candidates’ in while ensuring that we don’t stand a chance. This is unjustified and let the university explain this in court. I have got in touch with other aggrieved parents and will file a case against this arbitrary selection.”

However, the Chairman of the Department, Prof Satish Kapoor, defending the merit list, said that CAT, this year, had been a low-scoring exam with the topper scoring only 44 percent. “This implies that everybody is very closely packed together. We had to go down to third decimal place to decide the candidates. A difference of three marks is enough to put a candidate back by at least 75 to 100 positions. We have not favoured anybody and selections have been fair,” he said.

Prof Kapoor added that interviews and GDs had greater weightage, the criterion has been decided by the university, since they were on the “lookout for market-savvy candidates who could sell products and would appeal to companies”.

“We are not into the business of churning out researchers. Our placement record is what makes us an attractive option and we want to zero in on smart candidates who will deliver for us and the company which hires them.

No criterion is foolproof and if the university thinks it needs to change it following the complaints pouring in, I have no objection.

However, as far as these selections are concerned, the criterion in the prospectus has been followed to the letter,” he maintained. 



Beer, champagne to be sold in departmental stores
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 23
Light alcoholic drinks like beer in 325 ml bottles, champagne, cider and mixed, ready to drink alcoholic concoctions with fruits juices will now be available in departmental stores in the city. Earlier only wines were available in departmental stores, the Chandigarh Administration said today while announcing the excise policy.

The departmental stores having a turnover of Rs 40 lakh will be eligible to sell these drinks. Also sales of these drinks have been allowed for the first time in pubs and bars. The limitation of alcoholic contents up to 23 degree for wines has been removed and wines having a higher alcoholic content are allowed. The limitation of alcoholic contents in case of ready to drink concoctions has been enhanced to 20 degrees from the existing 10 degrees.

Interestingly the licence fee for clubs has been redone. The clubs with membership of up to 1,000 members will pay a fee of Rs 75,000 annually, between 1,000 to 1,500 members, the fee is Rs 1.5 lakh, between 1,500 and 2,000 members, the fee is Rs 3 lakh and more than 2,000 members, it will be Rs 6 lakh. Earlier the slabs were up to 500 members, Rs 75,000, between 500 and 1,500 members, Rs 2 lakh and more than 1,500 members, Rs 4 lakh.

Also the clubs will not be required to take multiple bar licences. The first licence will cost Rs 2 lakh annually. The second will cost Rs 1 lakh. However, the Administration has allowed service points in clubs which are used in parties, or weekends. For this Rs 10,000 is payable annually.

Also keeping in mind the demands of leading hotels, they have been permitted to buy imported foreign liquor from the importer directly and there is no need to route it through the bulk liquor seller. This provision has been made for the first time.

The registration fee in the case of brands with low volume sales (up to 500 cases) will be Rs 1,000. However, the excise duty shall be levied at the double rate. This provision has been introduced for the first time.

The assessment fee on draught beer will be at par with bottled beer, Rs 15 per barrel.

The security amount to be deposited by the liquor licencees has been raised to 16.7 per cent from 12.5 per cent. A total of 5 per cent will be taken as security deposit at the fall of the hammer on the day of auction and the remaining amount will be deposited in phases up to April 30.

The balance licence fee shall be deposited in 10 monthly instalments of 8.5 per cent. The liquor vends defaulting in payments of licence fee and interest for more than 45 days will be dealt with more strictly.

Panchayats and Zila Parishads will be provided grants for the sale of liquor, conducted from their jurisdictions.

The amount of grant shall be computed @ Re 1 per bottle of liquor sold from their jurisdiction to be divided in equal shares between the Panchayat concerned and the Zila Parishad for creation of fixed assets.

The provision has been introduced for the first time.

The special police force will be strengthened and placed at the disposal of Excise and Taxation Department to check illegal smuggling of liquor.

The possession limit of liquor remains the same. No change has been made in the number of vends. There will be 78 retail sale vends of country liquor and IMFL in the city.

The auction of the retail sale vends of country liquor, and IMFL for the year 2005-06 will be held on March 29 at the Tagore Theatre.



Passing Thru

Your five tips for healthy cooking?

Always buy good quality ingredients; while preparing your ingredients for your meal, preserve as many nutrients as possible. For example with vegetables, do not cut them and then wash them, also scrub them instead of peeling them; do not over cook your vegetables; Cook your regular dishes with half the quantity of oil that you normally use for your recipes and you will see the difference immediately and last but not the least cook with positive energy.

Which is your favourite cuisine?

It would have to be home cooked food. Nothing tastes like it.

Which is the most ‘foodie’ place in terms of awareness?

Most places have been good experiences but the people of India are really aware and interested in cuisines, recipes and what they eat. Kolhapur and Amritsar particularly stand out in my mind. The French, to a certain degree are also keen ‘foodies’.

Which is your favourite vegetable?

Spinach, Onion

Which vegetable, in your opinion, is most underrated?




Contributions to health schemes to get exemption
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 23
Contributions made to the Ex-servicemen's Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) have been exempted from payment of income tax. Secretary of the Air Force Association (AFA), Northern Zone, Wg Cdr Satish Bhatia (retd), said the Income Tax authorities had agreed to exempt ECHS contributions under Section 80 (D) of the Income Tax Act for those claiming rebate.

Citing a communique received in this regard from New Delhi yesterday, he added that a formal letter in this regard, however, was yet to be received from the Ministry of Defence of the Director General, ECHS.

There had earlier been persistent demands that payments made under the ECHS be exempted from income tax. ECHS was introduced about two years ago and there was no notification about tax exemptions concerning this scheme. Nor are any instructions on tax exemption available at ECHS centers.

Ex-servicemen are required to make a one-time payment to become members of the ECHS after retirement. This makes them and their dependents eligible to avail free medical treatment at ECHS clinics and empanelled civilian hospitals. Contribution rates depend upon pension and rank.

Though ex-servicemen and their dependents were not authorised free medical facilities at military hospitals, they were being provided as a goodwill measures owing to available capacity. Earlier, the Armed Forces were the only organisation in the country without a dedicated health scheme for retired personnel.

Wing Commander Bhatia added that tax exemption under Section 80 (G) of the Act for contributions made to the AFA was also under progress with the Central Board of Direct Taxes. The AFA looks after the welfare of retired Air Force personnel and widows.

The rates of liquor in CSD canteens in Chandigarh have gone up due to increase in excise duty. According to Army sources, liquor will now be dearer by Rs 8-10 per bottle. Meanwhile, so far no decision has been taken to implement VAT on goods sold through CSD canteens. 



Sociable bird vanishes: survey
Vishal Gulati
Tribune News Service

Sociable lapwing
Sociable lapwing

CHANDIGARH: The sociable lapwing, one of Eurasia’s most threatened bird species, has almost vanished from the fields of Punjab and Haryana. According to a survey conducted by Mr Suresh C. Sharma, an ornithologist and member of the Delhi Bird Club, in January and February this year no bird was sighted. He says till the early 1930s it was a fairly common winter migrant in this region. 

He says throughout the world this species has undergone a rapid decline due to unknown reasons. The survey was conducted on behalf of the Bombay Natural History Society and the Oriental Bird Club.

According to the UK-based BirdLife International, the 30-cm-tall sociable lapwing with black cap, white supercilium, dark legs and dark bill has declined by around 95 per cent during the past 15 years. Its latest population is believed to be between 200 and 400 in the world. It was declared critically endangered in 2004 by BirdLife. It now breeds in northern Kazakhstan and parts of Russia.

Mr Sharma says this year 18 birds were sighted in India by a team of the Delhi Bird Club, comprising, among others, Bikram Grewal. Eleven birds were found in Rajasthan and the rest in Gujarat.

He says in 2002 one bird of this species was sighted by Cdr K.B. Singh in the Harike wetlands, but subsequently a team of the club could not find the bird.

He says semi-desert, meadow land, dry wastelands and cultivated and ploughed fields are mainly the roosting sites of the bird. The Ottu reservoir in Sirsa district, the Bhiwani wetlands, the Sultanpur lake in Gurgaon district, the bed of the Ghaggar in Patiala district and the Harike wetlands were once its foraging sites.

Ornithologists attribute habitat loss to its decline. They believe rapid cultivation coupled with the heavy use of pesticides and high grazing pressure result in the destruction of the habitat of the bird.



Cardiologist designs card that saves life
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

N.K. Bhatia
Dr N.K. Bhatia with his life-saving orange rescue card

Chandigarh, March 23
Here is your chance to ensure that emergencies don't last longer than they ought to. For some time now, Col Dr N.K. Bhatia (retd), a renowned cardiologist from the region, has been engaged in the task of discovering the vital link between life and death.

After a great deal of legwork he has designed life saving orange rescue cards that will serve as the victim's only introduction to the world in the wake of a mishap. Orange, because the colour symbolises "rescue" across the world.

The experiment was undertaken to save thousands who die on roadsm or in accidents because enough medical information needed to save them is not available at the time of a crisis. Drawn from the western concept, these orange cards developed by Dr Bhatia contain critical bio information which can guide people and doctors into saving the victim's life. No wonder, 7500 cards have been issued to people in north India.

Dr Bhatia told The Tribune today, "In the Indian condition, thousands die and get lost because we don't know enough about their past- their names, addresses, their ailments, their allergies, etc. Very often people refrain from extending help because they don't have enough money to save a life. The card, apart from featuring life-saving information, contains Rs 100 as emergency fund needed to make an STD call and to initiate the evacuation process."

The best part of the card is the precious medical detail it provides about the person who bears it. It mentions his medical status, apart from the contact of his doctor. Not just that, the card is supported with the bearer's latest ECG report which Dr Bhatia's Chandigarh Cardiac Club provides free of cost.

Gradually, the card will be made internet savvy to ensure an electronic flow of information about the bearer. It will have a chip containing 36 additional vital pieces of information about the bearer, including details of his will, the quantum of his debt and links to his assets.

Said Dr Bhatia who will shortly get a toll free number for offering telephonic assistance regarding the cards, "The concept came as a brainwave to all of us in the family. Since we are doctors, we were concerned about saving the victim's life or at least identifying him in case he dies. Whenever there is a fatal accident, the first 100 minutes are golden because they hold 80 per cent chances of survival.

But in India, unlike in the west, it takes hours to transport the victim to the hospital where doctors have no clue to his past medical history. By now, the survival chances have fallen to 20 per cent. The situation can worsen if the doctor administers the victim a drug he is allergic to. Our card addresses these concerns."

Anyone looking for this unique insurance against uncertainty can call 94170-46606.



Elderly show zest for life
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 23
It was a delight to see more than 130 veteran sportspersons vying for the medals in the Eighth Annual Sports Meet held at Dussehra ground, Phase VIII, here today. Defying age, they showed the great zest for life which conveyed the message ‘never give-up’. This annual affair, organized by the senior Citizens (Pensioners) Council, SAS Nagar, provided an opportunity to senior citizens of this town to test their competitive capability, stamina and desire to win.

In the meet, 112 men and 21 women took part in which fast walking, musical chair, cycle race, shot put and chatti race were the main events. The competitors were divided into various groups according to the age. The main attraction of the event was Pritam Singh Kochhar, a veteran athlete, who has won four gold medals at the age of 85 plus in the 13 th Asian Masters Athletics Meet at Bangkok (Thailand) in December 2004. He again lived up to the expectations and won the gold medal and a trophy in fast walking event — 750 m, held for above 78 category, today. He was also awarded with a special memento for his excellent performance at Bangkok. Now he is willing to take part in the world veterans athletics meet to be held in Spain but spending more than Rs 1 lakh on participation would be the problem as no corporate or government agency has come forward to support such players financially.

Chatti Race was a special feature of the day in which ladies above 45 years had to run for 100 m with a chatti (pot) on their heads. Harbhajan Kaur Sodhi got first and Surjeet Kaur Bhatti came second in the race. In other events, Lal Singh won the two and half km race while Surinder Singh Parmar, Tejwant Singh, J.S. Arora were the winners of two km, one and half km and one km races, respectively. In Cycle Race (two km) Narinder Singh emerged as frontrunner and in the Shot Put competition Swarn Singh became first.

All the winners were honoured with medals and mementos presented by the chief guest Ms Lakhvinder Kaur Garcha, Officer on Special Duty to Chief Minister, Punjab. She also gave Rs 25,000 to the council to encourage the office-bearers to hold such tournaments. Back



Woman in need of financial help
Swarleen Kaur

Chandigarh, March 23
Poverty-stricken Kulwinder Kaur is yet to come to terms with the disappearance of her husband missing for the past seven years. Left alone with the responsibility of bringing up two minor children, she is facing great hardship. She is illiterate with no means of livelihood. She and her children are virtually leading a hand-to-mouth existence.

Her husband Balwinder Singh was reported to be mentally unstable and he disappeared suddenly. It was his second marriage to her.

A resident of Kamali village in Fatehgarh Sahib district, she was asked to marry her brother-in-law but she refused the 'rehabilitation offer'.

Her husband had no regular source of income but the family subsisted on the income from their land in the village. She claims that her father-in-law has deposited Rs 10 lakh in the name of her children who will get the amount when they become major.

The poor woman adds that unable to withdraw a single penny from this money, she is facing financial problems. She is not living with her in-laws anymore but is living in a small house in the same village along with her two minor sons.

Though the government has made a provision for granting pension to the widows, however, there is no such help for destitute women.

However, Ms Veena Kumar, Director, Human Rights Law Network, Chandigarh, who met this unfortunate woman at a Voluntary Health Association camp of Punjab is hopeful that some way will be found out for her. Fully resolved to help her, she said, "We will try to take her case to the court. Attempt will also be made so that she can get legal aid".

She will soon file an application in the court so that she could be declared a widow to enable her to get widow pension. Her two dependent children can also get some kind of help. At present, technically, she is not eligible for widow pension, she added.



Can airlines support drop in international air fares?
Gayatri Rajwade
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 23
An economy class return ticket from India to Kuala Lumpur or Singapore at Rs 10,000 it sounds like a dream come true! The ticket is inclusive of taxes, confirmed a spokesperson for Air Sahara.

However, you will have to wait a little longer for your foreign jaunt. Air Sahara says the “final deal is still being worked out and the fare that has been announced is an introductory offer available through April, although the final proposal will be announced by March 30.”

Most travel agencies in the city got several calls the day after the newspapers carried reports on reduced fares to Malaysia and Singapore but the travel agencies themselves had no communication from the airlines.

“Having read reports in newspapers about a drastic cut in air fares people have been calling up,” says the owner of a local travel agency. “The airlines say the details on the fares will be out only by next week or by the end of the month.”

With aviation fuel costs rising is not possible to sustain these fares and the model on which airlines work cannot support such a drastic drop in tariff rates,” points out an industry expert.

A spokesperson for Jet Airways says, “The airline is still working out its tariffs and these will be announced soon.”

Indian Airlines announced its new schedule for South-East Asia with 28 new flights as part of expanding its operations in the region, but sources in the airlines say that they are going to “wait and watch” and see how this “fight for fliers” is fought.

Falling international fares are the result of a number of competitors in the arena, especially the international airlines, who are offering cheaper tickets.

On the flip side, fares in the domestic sector are higher than what it will cost a traveller to board an international flight to Singapore or Malaysia.

Ms Vijaya Menon, head of Corporate Communications at Air Deccan, the no-frill “simplifly” airline, believes “there is only so much that airlines can reduce their domestic fares as almost 50 per cent of the cost of the ticket is used to fuel the plane. The cost of aviation fuel is extremely high in India. The business model of the airline also determines the cost of the ticket.” Air Deccan does not work on credit; they make their planes fly longer than other airlines do and bookings for all seats are available on the Net.

Right now, though, with the international and domestic markets seeing a plethora of players entering the arena, travellers can party in any part of the globe they wish. They simply have to choose the price for their ticket!

After all, it works out much cheaper than flying one way from Chandigarh to Kochi at Rs 18,884 or even a First Class return ticket of Rajdhani Express between Delhi and Trivandrum which is almost Rs 13,000.



Procession dedicated to martyrs
Our Correspondent

Mohali, March 23
A procession was organised by various bodies in connection with the martyrdom day of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev here today. The procession, in which participants went in cars and on scooters and motor cycles, started from the Punwire chowk. 

After passing though various areas of the town, it culminated at the office of the municipal council in Phase VII. The participants, raised slogans like “Inqualab zindabad” on the way.

A memorandum to be submitted to the Punjab Governor was given to the SDM, Mr M.L. Sharma. The participants demanded that no attempts should be made to undermine the sacrifices of the great martyrs. A holiday on the martyrdom day should be declared no only in Punjab but throughout the country. They demanded introduction of chapters on martyrs in the text books at the school and college levels and a halt to privatisation of health, education and power board.

Representatives of the Pendu Cultural Society, the Punjab Lok Kala Kender, the Shaheed Udham Singh Youth Club, the Trade Union Council, the Kisaan Hit Bachao Committee and the All-India Democratic Students Organisation participated in the procession



Old Age Home inmates’ date with colours
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 23
Inmates of Old Age Home, Sector 30, had a date with colours yesterday. For once, their day was more about the joy of Holi than about the pangs of separation inflicted upon them by their wards. Joining the elders in their day long celebrations was singer Muktesh Dewan from the city who sang his way into the inmates’ hearts.

Unlike other programmes where the limelight is hogged by government officials this one was a rather plain, simple affair where the elders were entertained in the way they wanted. Dewan’s devotional fare was a literal treat for the aged, who have otherwise succumbed to a life of ignominy. Understanding the pulse of his audience, Dewan did his best, ensuring the songs enthralled them that eagerly awaited moments of joy.

Then there were some personal moments of glory for the old who recited their poems and even cracked some jokes, reaffirming hope in life. A community lunch organised later during the day was another occasion the elders looked forward to. As one of them said, “Seldom do we get together. We have lived in our own fragmented tenements for all these years. But this time, Holi has brought some colour of joy to our drab lives.”

The sprinkles of gulal made up for the many losses these aged have been bearing for long. And though the joy of festivity lasted for a while, this one moment of bliss may well go a long way to colour the days of Home inmates who have been struggling through their sunset years. Present also on the occasion was Mr A.K. Ummat who urged the society to awaken to its responsibility of caring for the old.



Insurance sector paralysed as staff goes on strike
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 23
With employees of all four public sector insurance companies observing a strike today in support of their wage revision, work in the insurance sector came to a standstill in the city and the surrounding areas. Employees of United India Insurance, New India Assurance, Oriental Insurance and National Insurance observed a complete strike on the first day of the two-day nationwide strike, the call for which was given by the joint action committee of the Public Sector General Insurance Employees Association.

The agitated employees are seeking long pending wage revision , abolition of the broker system, stoppage of transfer and mobility policy and immediate completion of the promotional exercise in all cadres.

According to the general secretary of the association, Mr Ravi Bhushan, more than 400 employees of these companies, including women, staged a demonstration in front of the Regional Office of United India Insurance and raised slogans against General Insurance (public sector), Association of India (GIPSA) and the the Union Government for their “indifferent” attitude towards their demands.

Addressing the gathering, the union leaders said the managements of various insurance companies were causing unnecessary delays even as the wage revision had been due since August 2002 and the sector had given huge profits. Mr Bhushan said the business generated by the insurance companies had gone up from Rs 33, 695 crore to Rs 45, 285 crore. “There have also been no promotions in any cadre for the past two years.”



Pak guest discharged after successful surgery
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 23“I came to India for the sole purpose of watching my team win but I was not prepared for the immense warmth and hospitality that I received from the Indian public. Winning or losing no longer matters. Ultimately cricket met with its objective of bringing people of two countries closer,” said Muhamad Qasim (52), a Pakistani cricket fan who was operated upon at Fortis Hospital, Mohali, after he was diagnosed with severe artery blockage.

Mr Qasim was talking to media persons during a press conference organised at the hospital today. In line with the efforts of the government of Punjab to strengthen the ties between India and Pakistan, Fortis Hospital, had promised to provide free treatment to the Pakistani cricket fans.

The patient was admitted to the hospital on March 11, when he complained of severe chest pain.

The cost of the surgery is over Rs 2 lakh, which has been waived off as a special gesture.



Catholic Church to hold mass on Maundy Thursday
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 23
The Catholic Church in Sector 19 will have a special mass on Maundy Thursday tomorrow at 6 pm. It will be followed by common adoration in Malayalam from 8 pm onwards.

On Good Friday, which is a day of fast and abstinence, the programme will feature “Way of the Cross” in three languages — English at 9 am, followed by Malayalam at 10.30 am and Hindi at 3 pm.

The celebration of Lord’s Passion will be at 4 pm. The Easter Vigil will be conducted on March 26 at 11 pm where a candle and a container for Holy Water has to be brought by all devotees. March 27 being Easter Sunday, Holy Mass in English (8.30 am) and Hindi (10.30 am) will be conducted.



Meteorological day celebrated
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 23
World Meteorological Day was celebrated today with the sun radiant and the day delightfully warm. The city looked ‘spring cleaned’ literally, after the heavy showers of the previous day with the leaves on the trees sparkling and the streets covered with a blanket of soggy orange-yellow leaves.

The theme for this year is ‘Weather, climate, water and sustainable development.’ The Meteorological Department located in Sector 22 in the city was opened to the public today. Mr. Chattar Singh, Director of the Met Department said “the day was busy with people coming in and going out. Most seemed interested in how the weather forecast was worked out and how rain was measured especially with the downpour that the city witnessed a day ago.”

World Meteorological Day commemorates the coming into force on March 23, 1950 of the Convention of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Each year, WMO celebrates the day by focusing on a theme of topical or current interest to humankind. 



Candidates for Press Club elections announced
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 23
The following candidates remain in fray for the Chandigarh Press Club elections after withdrawal today. The polling will be held on Sunday, March 27, at Press Club from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

President (1 post) — Mr Jagtar Singh Sidhu and Mr Sanjeev Shukla; senior vice-president (1 post) — Ms Nanki Hans and Dr Chander Trikha; vice-presidents (2 posts) — Mr G.C. Bhardwaj, Ms Harvinder Khetal, Mr Girish Upadhyay and Mr Gajinder Singh; secretary general (1 post) — Mr Balwant Takshak and Mr Ashwini Bhatnagar; secretary (1 post) — Ms Ranju Aery and Mr Prabhjit Singh; joint secretary (2 posts) — Mr Jaswant Singh Rana, Ms Nisha Sharma, Mr Tejinder S. Sehgal and Mr Sarabjeet Sabharwal; treasurer (1 post) — Mr Vishal Gulati and Mr Mahavir Jain.



Aid for ‘Adopt a Granny’ scheme
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 23
HelpAge India today released a grant of Rs 1.83 lakh to Chandi Kusht Ashram towards its much successful ‘Adopt-a-Granny’ programme. Mr Bhavnesh Sharma, State Manager, HelpAge India, said the organisation had adopted 114 old people through the ashram. 

All these people, he said, were being cared for financially and emotionally. Of the 114 people, 54 are the ashram inmates.



Mandal aid for tsunami-hit

Mohali, March 23
The Mohali Beopar Mandal made a contribution of Rs 51,000 towards the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund for tsunami victims.

According to Mr L.D. Jindal, president of the mandal, the draft for the amount was handed over to Ms Lakhwinder Kaur Garcha, OSD to the Punjab Chief Minister. OC



190 kg of poppy husk seized
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 23
The Mohali police today seized over 190 kg of poppy husk from two persons who were reportedly trying to smuggle it in five gunny bags to Ludhiana.

According to Mr Devinder Singh, SHO Sohana, the two accused Sarvan Kumar and Sukhdev Singh were bringing five gunny bags full of poppy husk from Rajasthan. They had paid Rs 25,000 for it there and were supposed to deliver it to a dealer in Ludhiana for Rs 50000. The SHO added that the two were caught with the gunny bags and the canter that they were using to transport from near the Akal Ashram Sohana.

The two are in police custody and the Canter has been impounded by the police.



No injury mark on body, says report

Chandigarh, March 23
The preliminary post-mortem report of Mohammad Gulzar shows that there were no injury marks on the body. However, the exact cause of death is yet to be ascertained, the police said here, today.

The police sources said they had sent the heart, lungs and the viscera of the victim to the forensic laboratory to certain the cause of death. OC



Dera Bassi residents held
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 23
The local police has arrested Haman Singh, a resident of Dera Bassi in Patiala district, last night. The accused was involved in a cheating case of duping the ICICI bank. He was produced before a local court today, which remanded him in judicial custody.

The police said in January this year ICICI bank had filed a case of cheating against several persons involved in duping the bank by forging documents to sanction loans. The police had earlier arrested Saudagar Singh, Pankaj Chaudary and K. Shashival on the charges of forgery.

During the investigation the police came to know about the involvement of Haman in this case. 



City rated as top IT destination
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 23
Chandigarh’s claim to being a promising Information Technology destination has got an official stamp of approval. The Department of Information Technology, Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, has rated Chandigarh as one of the leading centres of IT along with the established centres like Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharasthra.

The ranking of UT of Chandigarh with the states like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka which are pioneers in the field of Information Technology in the country is a pointer to the speed with which Chandigarh is progressing, said the Secretary Finance-cum-Secretary, IT, Mr S.K. Sandhu here today.

The national recognition for city as a leader in “e-readiness” comes close on the heels of the Golden Icon Award, which has been presented to the Department of Information Technology, Chandigarh, for introducing E-Sampark (e-governance) project recently. With the successful implementation of the C-TOSS and the forthcoming inauguration of the Chandigarh Technology Park, Chandigarh, is likely to remain in the top brackets of “Leaders’ category, said a spokesperson. Last year Chandigarh was among the second rung states.

The ratings have been released after an assessment of “e-readiness” of all states and UTs in the country in association with the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) for the year 2004. The assessment helps to identify gaps and strengths as well as the level of disparity within and across the state. The broad indicators for assessment include indicators concerning environment, readiness and usage. The indicators for environment include market environment, political and regulatory environment and infrastructure environment. The Indicators for Readiness make an assessment about the readiness of individuals/business and government. The indicators for sectors concerning usage of e-governance include total number of householders with Internet connections, percentage of houses with cable connections, total computers in business, applications of information and communication technology in various branches of the government, total number of e-governance projects undertaken and availability of utility billing on line.


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 |