C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


City stars twinkle in IIM sky
Four each make it to Ahmedabad, Kozikode
Tribune News Service

Tips for success

  • Have right attitude and get your basics right
  • Identify strengths and weaknesses from within
  • Identify 60 of the 150 easy questions in CAT and attempt these first
  • Justify yourself in the interview and be honest in your answers
  • Have a definite vision on what you want to do
  • Clarity of thought and good reading skills count
  • Consistent performers with good academic record have an edge

Chandigarh, April 6
Big dreams are the first step to even bigger realisations and that’s what set the ball rolling for city youngsters who came out with flying colours in the CAT examination and made it to the Indian Institute of Management (IIM).

Results for the two IIMs, Ahmedabad and Kozikode, were declared today while the other top institutes at Bangalore, Lucknow, Kanpur and Indore are yet to announce the names of the selected candidates. The results of these institutes are expected in a week’s time.

Among those who made it to the IIM, Ahmedabad, are four city students — Saurabh Malik, Garima Miahra, Saurabh Sood and Dr Amrit Pal — while four others — Mohan Lal, Prasun Banerjee, Karan Goyal and Sonalbir Sodhi — have made it to the IIM, Kozikode.

Speaking about what it takes to crack the CAT and sail through the interview, all of them are unanimous on the fact that a balanced candidate with a well-rounded personality is what the management institutes are really looking for rather than bookworms who can reproduce bookish knowledge without batting an eyelid.

A topper throughout his academic career, Saurabh Malik says his “consistent performer image” proved to be the clincher in the final run-up to the seat in his dream institute.

Having passed out from the IIT, Kharagpur, and working with a company in Mumbai, Saurabh states: “My heart wasn’t in it and I felt my calling lay elsewhere. I quit my job after a year, came back, studied thoroughly and made it.”

The only girl to have made it to the IIM, Ahmedabad, from the city, Garima Miahra, is a final-year metallurgy student at Punjab Engineering College.

Having taken no regular coaching before her examination, she maintains, “I only took mock tests conducted by the management institutes and laid emphasis on English.

In the interview, they are not looking for abrasive, extremely outgoing individuals but candidates who can think rationally and justify themselves in the interview.”

Another final-year student from PEC, Saurabh Sood, specialising in electronics, started preparing in the second year itself. His strategy was similar to that of Garima’s.

“I took as many mock tests as possible and joined a coaching institute in the final year after being thorough with the basics.”

“The interview wasn’t tough since I gave honest answers. Though I messed up in my answers, I was still selected which shows that they are looking at how you approach problems rather than whether you are right or wrong,” Saurabh explains.

Dr Amrit Pal, an MBBS who did a short stint at the Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, too quit his job and took the CAT exam only to be selected in the leading management institute of the country.

Also, the selection of four students to the IIM, Kozikode, is a double celebration for the city.

The result has also come as a feather in the cap of PEC, which has two of the four selected candidates making it to the prestigious IIM.



Spring brings windfall for PU
Alumnus wills Rs 56 lakh to alma mater
Neelam Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 6
Cash-strapped Panjab University has received a donation of $ 1,28,000 (over Rs 56 lakh) from a trust formed in the name of Pran Nath Vohra, a university alumnus who passed away recently in the USA.

The Pran Vohra Trust remitted a cheque for the amount in the favour of PU Registrar Paramjit Singh recently through its Successor Trustee F. Howard Kratzer.

The amount, which was received by the university on March 28, has been deposited in the Special Endowment Trust Fund account in the university branch of the State Bank of India.

Pran Nath Vohra was a student of Panjab University (then at Lahore) and had received his BS and MS degrees in Chemistry in 1940 and 1942, respectively. After completing his education at the university, Vohra went to the USA for further studies and spent most of his career at the University of California.

Vohra, who died on May 5 last year, had willed grants to the university from the trust. This was, however, not the first gesture on the part of Vohra to pay back its alma mater. He had donated $ 7,700 towards the Durga Devi Ram Dass Fund for the education of students in the university’s Department of Chemistry.

According to a press statement issued by the PU today, the trustees had been trying to get in touch with the PU since July last year to hand over the university’s share. Mr Kratzer then wrote to Vice-Chancellor K. N. Pathak to give the amount.

There have been instances in the past where NRI alumnus have willed a share of their property to the university — which otherwise has been refused its due of financial grants by the Centre and Punjab Government.

Last year, the university had received a sum of Rs 2 crore from its former student based in Canada, Dr Harvansh Singh Judge, for the construction of dental sciences institute on the campus.

The institute is scheduled to start functioning from the forthcoming session and is named after the donor.



PU reschedules April 2 exams
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 6
Acceding to the demands of principals and students of the affiliated colleges, Panjab University has rescheduled the annual examinations of undergraduate classes that were to take place on April 2.

In a decision taken today, the authorities have decided to conduct all examination which were earlier postponed from April 2 to April 17 on April 17, 18 and 23. In its previous decision, the university had decided to conduct all exams on April 17, much to the surprise of the students. While the students protested the “hostile datesheet’’, which left little scope for preparation due to lesser holidays in-between the exams, the principals expressed their inability to conduct all exams on April 17 (Sunday) due to clash between the university exams and that of the Intelligence Bureau.

It should be mentioned here that the university postponed the exams due to the strike by college teachers all across Punjab and UT under the aegis of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers union (PCCTU), which is demanding the release of grant in aid from the Punjab government. Fresh dates for the exams: 1. April 17: BA/ B.Sc II and III. 2. April 18: BA I English (compulsory)3. April 23: B.Com II, BBA I and III, BCA II and BCA (honours).



Now, pay a fortune for traffic violation
Fine for tinted glasses: Rs 1,000, for wrong number-plates: Rs 2,000
Our Correspondent

  • The Chandigarh Traffic Police has recommended suspension of registration of 148 LPG-run vehicles using illegal kits. During the suspension period, the owners will not be able to use the vehicles.
  • The traffic police will request the registering authorities not to issue high-security number-plates to violators against whom challans are pending in courts.
  • The traffic police is compiling data of persons who have neither got their challans compounded nor have they appeared before court.

Chandigarh, April 6
Drivers of vehicles with tinted glasses and number-plates not as per the guidelines are in for trouble. The Chandigarh Traffic Police will fine Rs 1,000 and 2,000 respectively, for these offences. Earlier, the fine for these offences was Rs 100.

In a recent communication received from the Union Ministry of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways, the Chandigarh Traffic Police has been asked to invoke legal provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act for different offences.

Earlier, the failure to display the registration number as per the pattern prescribed was considered a violation of Section 39 of the MV Act and the offender was consequently booked under Section 192 and not under the general provisions of Section 177 (MV Act). The compounding fee thus goes up from Rs 100 to Rs 2,000. The police said this stringent punishment would discourage such offences.

Those using tinted glasses and films that do not permit sufficient light transmission (70 per cent for rear and 50 per cent for sides) will be booked under sub-section 2 of Section 190 of the MV Act. The violators will be charged a fine of Rs 1,000 instead of Rs 100 being charged under the general provisions of Section 177. 



Officer remembers the sealing of Rawalpindi-Srinagar route
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 6
As the Old Mughal Route between Rawalpindi and Srinagar through Uri is set to re-open after decades, an Indian Army officer who had been tasked to seal the route in 1965 vividly recalls his experience of witnessing cordial relations between the two armies turning hostile.

At Kaman post near Uri, a dilapidated bridge linking Indian and Pakistani sides of the route is in the final stage of restoration to allow a bus service across the Line of Control between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad. The bus service is being started as a good will measure and to increase people-to-people contacts between the two countries. The 50-metre bridge is over Jabbar Nallah, a rivulet which joins the Jhelum a short distance away. According to local history, Shah Jahan is said to have used this route to proceed to Srinagar. Later, a road was built by the British.

Closely following the events resulting in dismantling an "explosive" barrier put up by him around the bridge about half a century ago to stop enemy advance and infiltration, Col J S Bindra, a retired city-based paratrooper, is also full of hope that relations between the two countries improve and cordial relations between forces arrayed along the border on either side return.

"Before hostilities broke out in 1965, we used to speak to our counterparts on the other side regularly," Colonel Bindra told The Tribune. "Besides meeting each other on the bridge for an informal chat whenever United Nations personnel crossed over, our posts were at a stone's throw and we could call out to each other," he added. He recalled that it was here that a Pakistani officer called out to him, asking if he had heard the BBC. when he replied in the negative, the Pakistani informed him that the BBC had just announced the then Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru's demise.

As a young lieutenant and then as a captain, Colonel Bindra had manned the 4,000-feet high Kaman post in 1964. His battalion, 1 Para, had been deployed along a 25 km stretch in the Uri sector.

"The situation was peaceful till the early 1965 when things started taking a turn for the worse. Infiltration started and our pickets began coming under regular fire," Colonel Bindra recalled. "Then in June, 1965, the situation took a serious turn when Uri came under artillery fire for the first time and caused some damage," he added. "Across us was a company from a Northern Light Infantry battalion headquartered at Muzaffarabad. We used to converse with them in English and Punjabi," he said.

Being situated at a lower altitude, the Kaman pickets were dominated by observation and fire by an enemy located on higher ground. "The firing on this post was so intense that there could be no movement during the day. It was then decided to vacate the pickets and was tasked to mine the area," he said.

The men and equipment were moved out at night. It was raining heavily and the flow of the Jhelum, a 100 yards away, drowned out any noise. "Under sporadic fire, we laid hundreds of mines in the area and even booby-trapped the pickets," Colonel Bindra recalled. Soon after, the battalion, then commanded by Col Gilbert Write, a British officer, was pulled out and earmarked for operations to capture the strategic Haji Pir Pass. 



Passing Thru

Gerald Macleod
Gerald Macleod, Vice-President, Global Schools, Canadian Education Centre Network.

Will the Canadian model be successful in the country?

We are hopeful that the learning programme for kindergarten students will become popular as it has been designed on the lines of the Indian education system. We have also added Hindi regional language as part of the curriculum to increase its acceptability.

Why did you choose Chandigarh to launch your programme?

The choice was natural as the city and its neighbouring areas have the maximum potential of attracting business. Other centres are being opened in Delhi and Gorakhpur.

What is the Maple Bear Early Learning programme?

It is based on research that shows that children need to explore and experiment with real objects in the learning environment. Play is a serious work for children. As they play, they gather information, integrate ideas from their previous experiences, explore and experiment with their environment.

Have you taken the latest research methods into consideration?

The Maple Bear system has been developed taking into account the latest research with respect to early childhood education. It provides a strong academic programme in an environment that encourages children’s natural and innate interest in learning. Competence in language, reading, mathematics, science, technology and Hindi is developed systematically.

— Rajmeet Singh



Southern Sector roads drivers’ nightmare
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 6
High-level reviews of the city’s road infrastructure and crores of rupees allocated for widening and recarpeting roads in southern sectors seem to have had little effect. For the past several months, driving on roads in the southern Sectors has become a nightmare. The issue of recarpeting and widening of roads has been pending since September 2003.

All main roads in the southern part of the city are in bad shape and have huge potholes. The worst roads are in Sectors 46, 47, 33, 34, 39, 40, 44, 45, 38 West, 43 and 44.

Mr Lalit Makkar of Sector 51-A says since none among the officialdom lives in the southern sectors, the daily grind of travelling on these roads is not faced by them and hence the indifference.

Sources in the Administration said during the last financial year, tenders for widening the road could not be finalised and now the municipal corporation in its latest list of roads scheduled to be widened has not included any such sector-dividing road. And even if the work starts now it will be a race against time as the monsoon usually hits the city by the end of June when no road recarpeting work can be carried out.

About four months ago, the UT Administrator, Gen S.F. Rodrigues, in his review of the traffic plan of the city, had stressed on better roads. The General, in his review, had said, “Officials entrusted with the task of civic services must look far ahead, have a vision of the needs of the future and strive hard for implementing the projects under a time-bound schedule”.

The sources said the MC, which had the prime duty of relaying these roads, was soft-peddling the matter even as funds for the same had to be given by the Chandigarh Administration and some portion of it had to come from the Chandigarh Housing Board.

In the past year and a half, all these plans have been made on paper. In September 2003, the then Administrator, Justice O.P. Verma, announced that four roads would be taken up for widening and recarpeting. The MC said it had no money, while the Administration said it would pay a one-time grant.

For more than one year, nothing moved. Then in October 2004, the CHB was roped in since most of these roads fell in areas which had been developed by the CHB. In the end, it was decided that all roads which lead towards Mohali from Dakshin Marg would be widened, a stretch of about 5 km on each road. Out of this, expenses on about 3 km on each road were to be paid by the CHB. It looked nice on paper and remained like that. In the last financial year, which ended on March 31, 2004, the Administration had allocated about Rs 11 crore for roads but not a penny for the southern sectors. The MC says it does not have funds. In reality, the MC concentrates on roads, which are within the sectors where the vote-bank exists.



Spring is back…with a sting!
Seven bee/wasp sting cases reported in one month
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Instant Medical

Bee sting causes an allergic reaction which is mostly local. Sometimes, however, the infection can be fatal. Sector 27 based medical practitioner Dr Jasjit Singh tells, “If someone is extremely sensitive to the chemical in the sting, he/she can get an anaphylactic shock which can be fatal. In case of a sting, take an anti-allergy tablet of Avil or Alerid. When attacked, avoid hitting back at the swarm. Be stationery till bees disperse.”

Where to get help

Wildlife Department, UT and Environment Society of India (ESI), an NGO offers help in destroying hives without killing the bees. The trick is not to disturb the bees but to force them to disperse by lighting a fire underneath the hive. Mr Ishwar Singh, Chief Wildlife Warden, UT, says “Kerosene oil should be used to ensure lasting smoke which forces bees to move away. The person who lights the fire must cover himself with a blanket to escape stings.”

For help, call ESI office at 2746832; or at UT Wildlife Department office at 2782645.

Chandigarh, April 6
The change of season has unleashed honey bees and yellow wasps once again. Dominating the city spaces like never before, they are striking with a vengeance.
Another reason for increased strike of bees during this part of the season is their heightened activity, spurred by natural sources of nectar which are the richest at this time of the year.

Naturally, the bees are busy collecting juices and because they are active, they are more prone to human disturbances. They sting people in self defence.

Two days ago, they stung six mentally challenged children and five teachers, who were taking a vocational training class at Karuna Sadan in Sector 11. A week ago, two sting cases were reported in Sector 16 which has a thick concentration of hives, given its green cover. The past month has witnessed seven sting cases, mostly in Northern sectors which are rich in flora.

While the cases of sting are on the rise, there are few agencies in Chandigarh that offer help in destroying hives. The result is an increasing number of hives in places close to human habitation — like balconies of houses, government buildings like UT Secretariat, even Rose Garden. In a survey conducted by Environment Society of India two years ago, it was found that northern sectors had maximum number of hives, 45.

There are 26 hives on a single neem tree in Sector 26 Nature Park. PU Botanical Garden has six hives; Rose Garden has five; PEC has four while Sector 11 has three.

The problem might sound usual, but its dimensions are grave. More and more honey combs are now coming up in places other than those preferred by bees for construction. Decline in the number of trees like semul, kikar and neem has forced bees to look for alternate sites for hive construction. Small wonder then that hives are now found in all places where bees can avoid direct sunlight and high velocity winds.

As for stings, it is a manifestation of the bee-man conflict.



MC to keep double entry accounts
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 6
The Municipal Corporation has decided to introduce a double entry system of accounting to maintain the expenditure records for more transparency. A decision to this regard was taken at a meeting of the Finance and Contract Committee here today.

The corporation will maintain two separate accounts to keep a tab on all expenditure receipts. Both accounts will be tallied to ensure greater transparency.

The system has been introduced with the aim of keeping a double check on the corporation records. The corporation is likely to engage the services of professionals like the chartered accountants.

The step has been initiated following a communication from the Ministry of Urban Affairs, sources said.

The committee also decided to hold a special meeting for chalking out a policy for cable network in the city. It was decided to ask cable operators to pay their dues pending for the period May 2003 and 2005. All disputes regarding payments for the earlier period will be sorted out later.

The sources said only about 30 cable operators out of approximately 85 paid the rent.

The corporation in 1999 had decided to levy a tax of Rs 1,000 per sector per month on each cable operator, but only 20 operators were forthcoming in making payments.

The Chandigarh Cable Operators Association in an earlier letter to the commissioner had pointed out that “specifications of the sector area are not clear in the policy. For example, Khuda lahora Colony which falls in MC limits has only 150 houses while Mani Majra has 4,000 houses. How can the tax be uniform?”

The committee decided that the parking in front of the office of the Medical Officer, Health, in Sector 17 be auctioned afresh. The reserve price has been fixed at Rs 11 lakh.

The committee also passed the estimates for at least four deep bore tubewells in Sectors 12 and 26.

The committee also cleared an estimate for providing additional storm water drainage from the residence of the Chief Minister of Punjab in Sector 2 to N-Choe, Leisure Valley, Sector 3.



PSEB to deploy private contractors for slums
Tribune News Service

Mohali, April 6
Following the example of Chandigarh, the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) here has decided to deploy private contractors to “collect” electricity consumption charges from slum dwellers in the township. The move has been initiated to reduce losses on account of power theft by the slum dwellers.

Following a nod by the electricity board head quarters, the first contractor had been shortlisted by the board’s office here. The contractor had taken over supply of electricity to over 300 jhuggis in the Amb Sahib Colony where he would start work next week.

According to the Assistant Superintending Engineer, PSEB, Mohali circle, Mr V.K. Mahajan, the contractor would be given a single-point high capacity meter connection outside the colony and he would be paying the board according to the meter reading.

The private contractor, who is a resident of the colony himself, would be responsible for giving further electricity connections up to the capacity limit. “For example if the contractor is given a meter of 25 kilowatts, he can give electricity connection down the line of smaller wattage. And generally since the slum dwellers do not use too much of electricity, every such connection would range between 200 to 200 watts,” explained Mr Mahajan. However, before beginning work the contractors had been asked to pay a lump sum amount as security to the board. The first contractor had already deposited Rs 75,000 as security to the board.

The contractor would convince slum dwellers to take “connections” from him and would charge them at rates fixed by him. Board sources added that they would have no regulatory control over the tariff laid down by the contractor for the slum dwellers. “The contractor would earn a profit by charging a rate a little higher than what he has to pay the board,” pointed out an SDO in the board.

The arrangement which is functioning well in Chandigarh stands to benefit everyone. While the board would earn something from these illegal consumers who, otherwise, thrive on kundi connections, the contractor would earn a living. Also since these connections were “legal”, jhuggi owners would be encouraged to take a connection from the contractor rather than have a kundi connection which if detected could be removed and the electricity thief penalised.

“We have got permission from the headquarters to deploy one contractor first on an experimental basis. If the system is found to run successfully here, other illegal colonies in Mohali would also be covered. We already have some people from some other colonies who want to work as contractors. But we have asked them to wait till we have good results from Amb Sahib Colony,” said Mr Mahajan.



‘Villains’ to turn friends at licence counters
Sanjay Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 6
Their objections irk you, specially when your turn of filing your documents for a driving licence or vehicle registration comes after having sweated out in a long queue. They look like villains.

But consider their opinion brought out in an in-house survey before considering them villains.

The majority of the employees of the Registration and Licencing Authority (RLA) have in the survey said they need to behave politely and work effectively to assuage the feelings of the general public.

The employees have not only realised this but they have also forwarded suggestions for improving facilities for applicants to provide them comfort while they have to wait for the issuance of licences and vehicle registrations.

The facts were brought out in a survey which the RLA chief and an under-training IAS officer, Ms Padmini Singla, conducted on the employees.

The employees were requested to put forward their suggestions in writing for improving the functioning of the RLA and its image.

Among other things, the employees have also suggested to put up a shed at counters in the basement as the applicants face a lot of inconvenience during the summers and monsoon.

The employees suggested an inquiry telephone line (2700076) to make queries about the formalities or status of an application over telephone.

A suggestion box inviting public opinion and suggestions has been set up at a specially created inquiry where a man and a woman are present to respond to people’s queries.

The RLA has already deposited Rs 15 lakh with the Engineering Department to make the office air-conditioned. The office is likely to be air-conditioned this summer, Ms Singla told Chandigarh Tribune here today.

You may be surprised if you see exercise cycles in the waiting lounge apart from public telephones, magazines and newspapers to make your wait less painful.

After the employees emerged candid on their weakness of possibly being rude at trying times, Ms Singla has arranged a session on stress management to be followed up by one on time management.

As part of an image re-building exercise, now employees are being given identity cards to be worn on clothes always apparently to notice an individual’s behaviour and also save people from touts who might claim themselves to be from the department.

The inquiry counter has also been asked to assist people in filling up their forms.

Ms Singla says the department can seek brief comments about the office functioning and the performance of individuals from the applicants and the person who gets highest appreciative comments can be rewarded by the department.

Ms Singla says the RLA works on Saturdays also for half time starting from 10 am but now she will ask employees to come at 9 am to take yoga lessons to de-stress them before starting their gruelling days.



Villagers attend training on Panchayati Raj
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 6
A nine-day training programme at National Institute of Rural Development, Hyderabad, for a 40 member-delegation, comprising of representatives from all 18 UT villages, proved to be an eye-opener as far the empowerment of the Panchayati Raj was concerned.

The villagers were sent on the training programme after a Chandigarh Administration decision to educate the members on the empowerment of the Panchayati Raj.

On returning from the trip, some of the members spoke about their experience. Mr Didar Singh, Chairman of the Panchayat Samiti, said , “We have come to know about various funds made available by the Centre for rural development programme”.

The resolution passed in Panchayati Raj institutions should be taken seriously by the government officials and funds should always be made available to the panchayats, he said.

Another member, Mr Shingara Singh, said that they were told that officials of 29 different government departments has to participate in the meetings of the Zila Parishad and Panchayat Samitis.

Any developmental activity, be it a school, a health centre, play ground, community centre, water and electricity supply, the panchayats had to be taken in to confidence.

“In Chandigarh, the Zila Parishad and Panchayat Samiti have negligible powers.

The status which should be accorded to institutions has not been given. In the meetings of the two panchayati institutions, neither the Member of Parliament nor the senior officers of the administration participate”, said Mr Jasbir Singh, Vice-Chairman of a Zila Parishad.

As part of the training programme, the members of the delegation were taken to Mahahbubnagar Zila Parishad.

There were seven different standing committees on Planning and Finance, rural development, agriculture, women welfare, education and social welfare.



Indiscriminate harvesting killing medicinal plants
Gayatri Rajwade
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 6
The rapid loss of natural habitats and over-exploitation of plants from the wild to meet the demands of the Indian medicinal plant industry, pegged at more than Rs. 4000 million annually, translates into indiscriminate harvesting. Resultantly, many a species are now facing the threat of extinction.

Chandigarh and its neighbouring towns alone account for more than 70 medicinal plant varieties growing in the wild. Areas like the Kansal Forest, the herbal garden at the Botany Department of Panjab University, Sukhna Lake and other green belts all grow a profusion of medicinal plants and herbs.

Dr Amrit Pal Singh, MD (Alternative Medicine), who researched various medicinal plants in Chandigarh and Mohali based on accounts by herbal vendors and tribes’ practicing in the region, says there are more than 40 plants that he documented. However, indiscriminate harvesting of these has resulted in fewer sightings of some species. “Solanum Nigrum” or “Mokaya” as it is commonly referred to, is a multi-purpose plant which can be effectively used in liver disorders and a paste can be used to relieve joint pains. Until a few years ago, this could be found growing on the roadside but now it is scarce even under trees,” says Dr Singh.

Mr G.S. Goraya, Joint Director, Foundation of Revitalisation of Local Health Traditions (FRLHT, a Bangalore-based NGO working on conservation strategies for medicinal plants in five states of the country), is of the opinion that “In the case of In-Situ conservation, that of plants growing in the wild, there is no glamour. The glamour is in cultivation.”

This has led to endangering plant species and the destruction of natural habitats and resources. Several Forest and Wildlife Protection Acts act as the basis for the protection of the flora and fauna of the country. Despite this, over 200 species are now on the endangered species list.

With medicinal plants playing an important role in the economy in recent times, the Medicinal Plants Board was set up on November 24, 2000, under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

It prioritised 32 plants for development that include promotional and commercial schemes. But even the Medicinal Plants Board admits that there is inadequate coordination and an absence of a focussed approach.

Added to the problem of over harvesting, there is the serious issue of negative health consequences due to poor quality herbs and the wrong identification of plant species. Cultivating, collecting and classifying plants correctly are of utmost importance.

Most doctors healing with alternative medicines say there is not enough R&D work going into these plants to determine their positive and negative impacts because everyone is in such a hurry to provide the raw material. In 2004, the World Health Organisation released guidelines for good agricultural and collection practices for medicinal plants. The guidelines are intended for national governments to ensure production of herbal medicines is safe, sustainable and poses no threat either to the people or the environment. They covered the spectrum of cultivation and collection activities.

Cultivation and conservation, especially in-situ conservation, is the key to planning the medicinal plant industry without losing our natural resources.



Volunteers to collect garbage from Colony No 5
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 6
Beginning from April 15, Yuvsatta will organise a special “safai abhiyaan” at Colony No 5. The announcement was made today by Mr Pramod Sharma of Yuvsatta which will gainfully employ rag pickers to clear the area of filth. In return for the rag pickers’ labour, each household in the slum dwelling unit will pay up Rs 10. The collection of garbage will be done from door to door.

The programme will be held in collaboration with the young volunteers of Kranti Youth Club of Colony No 5, who are motivating slum dwellers to pay money in exchange of the service to be provided. It may be mentioned here that Yuvsatta volunteers have been spreading the message of waste collection in Chandigarh for the past eight years.

Mr Sharma also announced that they’ll approach Medical Officer Health, MC, for acquisition of cycle carts needed for the programme and also for proper coordination with safai workers. On the occasion Mr Ram Kiran, chairman of Kranti Youth Club, pleaded for provision of safe drinking water in Colony No 5, saying people of the colony had to travel long distances to get buckets of clean drinking water. He added that people were left with no option but to drink water from handpumps, which was unfit for human consumption. He asked for provision of chlorine tablets to disinfect the water.

Replying to other queries Mr Pramod Sharma said there was no substitute for ‘self help’. “This is not the time to ask for government help in areas of basic amenities. We need to get together and act.”

Mr Sharma was speaking on the function organised to commemorate Mahatma Gandhi’s Dandi March.



Estate Office website this month
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 6
The Estate Office website —www.sampada.in — which will facilitate payment of fee apart from carrying information about procedures and certified architects, engineers, plumbers and property details will be operational within this month.

The website will display the functions of the office and information regarding its branches, give a list of structural engineers, approved plumbers, the Citizen Charter and the processes and formalities required for getting the office related jobs done.

It will also give information on Acts, notifications, rules, etc. relevant with the functioning of the Estate Office.

The website will also indicate the latest Collector’s rates for registration of sale deeds and most importantly, the details of property records.

The Estate Officer said at the time of launch of the website, the Estate Office proposed to put at least 10,000 property records, which shall include commercial, residential, institutional and all other type of properties.

The office is also dispensing with the process of putting file number for search and instead making it more user friendly by putting in the name of the Sector to locate residential, commercial or institutional properties.

Estate Officer Arun Kumar added that the office proposed to put its booklet “Suvidha” and manual, building bylaws, instructions and relevant information on the site.

The website will have a link with the Bank of Punjab website for collection of payment, which will allow money transfer through credit card and other modes.



City lad to attend meeting of Nobel Laureates in Germany
Tribune News Service

Preetpaul Singh Ahluwalia
Preetpaul Singh Ahluwalia

Chandigarh, April 6
Preetpaul Singh Ahluwalia brushes past laurels aside as the triumphs continue. His efforts show a distinctive affinity towards excellence as this 22-year-old does his parents, his teaching fraternity and his city, Chandigarh, proud once again by being selected to participate in the “55th Meeting of Nobel Laureates and Students” in Lindau, Germany, in June.

The programme includes visits to premier research institutes in Germany. Only 25 selected persons from all over the world will be participating.

Commendations are not new to Preetpaul. In 2001, this young lad won the first gold medal for India at the 12th International Biology Olympiad held in Brussels, Belgium. With over 150 official participants from over 38 countries competing for the top honours, India was placed sixth with one gold medal and three silver medals in the prestigious event. The Limca Book of Records also lists this accomplishment.

Currently pursuing medicine at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, Preetpaul hopes to specialise in cardiology or cancer research.

A diligent student, this young boy has showed his mettle right from excelling in school (Guru Nanak Public School, Sector 36) to topping in DAV College in his plus 1 and plus 2 classes exams. He is fond of quizzing, divinity, poetry recitation and debates.

He has received the first prize for his model on “Sewage treatment” at the State Science Exhibition in 1998 and is also the recipient of the National Talent Search Examination award given by the NCERT in 1999.

He is a recipient of the President’s Scout Award in 1998, a felicitation by the CBSE in 2001 and a commendation certificate by the Chandigarh Administration for his achievements in academics in 2002.

He has also been felicitated by the Indian Academy of Science and the Andhra Pradesh Academy of Science.

Good Luck Preetpaul, for Lindau is going to an experience!



Police helpline on passport status
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 6
The police has offered the passport applicants a helpline (5025000) to know their verification status in a fresh move to help people get passports within 35 days without a “tatkal” fee.

Enquiries on this number could be made on all working days between 9:30 am and 5 pm (excluding lunch break from 1 pm to 1:30 pm), between 9.30 am and 2 pm on Saturdays and between 9:30 am and 11 am on Sundays.

The helpline was today launched by IG Rajesh Kumar at the Police Headquarter in the presence of the Regional Passport Officer Arvind Kumar.

The RPO and the police indicated they would try to bring down the time of issuing passport to 25 days in future as part of an exercise to improve the police-public relation.

The police sources said earlier an applicant had to wait for 45 to 60 days to get the passport issued. 



Readers write
Where’s the refund, PUDA?

In 1995 PUDA worked out a sum of Rs 3,156 to be paid by me on account of acquisition price, etc. in addition to the full amount already paid for my plot No. 2071, Sector 61, Mohali. This additional amount was deposited vide PUDA’s receipt No. 53, dated June 23, 1995. But as PUDA could not justify the additional amount it had demanded so the refund of the amount deposited was due along with the penal interest. But no refund has been made so far.

PUDA introduced “complaint on phone service” vide its advertisement published in The Tribune dated October 6, 2004. I dialed the given telephone No. 5053344, asking for the refund along with penal interest @25 per cent per annum since June 23, 1995, or intimate through a letter the reasons for keeping my amount. But nothing has been done despite subsequent reminders. The way PUDA cares for its customers, especially senior citizens, is deplorable and leaves much to be done.

Jagdish Singh Nagi, Mohali

MC booklet on property tax

We deposited Rs 9,200 as self- assessment property tax on February 10, 2005, for our SCO in Sector 22-D, Chandigarh. We, however, feel that we overpaid and, therefore, should file a revised return. Unfortunately, the costly (Rs 50) booklet sold by the Municipal Corporation does not indicate when and to whom we should apply for a refund and whom should we give the revised return.

Interestingly, the occupiers of the buildings who avail of the MC services have to pay the property tax while the owners of the building have been made agents to collect and deposit it just as the sales tax is collected by traders from customers and deposited with the government.

We have not been able to understand that though the tenant paying lesser rent may be availing of equal service/ services than those who pay higher rent, the property tax value has been linked with the rent paid and not the area under use.

Why there are no exemptions for newspapers, educational institutions, clinics and hospitals ?

The booklet is silent as to what is the basis and justification for imposition of property tax on vacant floors. It asks the building owners to deposit it first even when there is no income and apply for refund later, making them incur unfair expenses.

The booklet does not say anything on whether we can exclude the area of stairs, internal passages, toilets and balconies from the assessable area.

The stipulation that those who do not opt for self-assessment will have to pay 25 per cent extra is oppressive and penal in nature.

Surinder Singh Dhillon, Chandigarh

MC, stop harassing us

After a gap of a few years the MC has started harassing residents on the pretext of keeping it clean and beautiful. Earlier, small hedges to keep out stray cattle and dog were allowed, but the corporation removed these without any purpose.

In my case there is an electric pole in my garden and only up to that a small hedge has been kept. The corporation has issued notices to remove such small hedges or face action. I suggest that if it wants to utilise this small part for widening road, etc. then it is good and we support it. But if not, the someone should intervene and advise the MC to be considerate and stop harassing us unnecessarily.

Kanwar S.S. Walia Chandigarh

Forgotten streetlight poles

The V3 road separating Sector 46 and 49 has streetlight poles but sans the power supply making it difficult for passersby at night. The road was widened long back to cope with heavy traffic. However, the streetlights, prior to its widening have been rendered non-functional and no new arrangement has so far been made. The areas alongside the road is proving to be a haven for antisocial elements.

Will the UT Administration give instructions to the Electrical Wing of the Engineering Department to take immediate action in this regard.

G.R. Kalra, Chandigarh

Uninterrupted water supply

The UT Administration Chandigarh can get uninterrupted supply water by laying a pipeline just near the rail bridge at the place where the canal enters Ropar. The canal water level there is higher then that at Kajauli. The pipeline could be laid along the railway track up to Kurali, Kharar, Mohali and Chandigarh. This could save crores of rupees. But the Punjab Urban Planning and Development instead is going for the fifth phase from 2006 and spend money on a survey of this area.

Moreover, the UT Administration will face problem when the construction of the SYL canal will be taken up.

Lt Col P.S. Sarang (retd), Chandigarh



Factory worker electrocuted
Our Correspondent

Rajpura, April 6
A 27-year-old youth of Daksijattan village was electrocuted late last night. An employee of RK Welding Roads, Darshan Singh, sustained severe electric burns while he was on duty on Tuesday.

According to police sources, proprietor of the industry took him to a local hospital.

After giving preliminary treatment the doctors referred him to other hospital after his condition deteriorated.

The sources said the victim was then rushed to a private hospital in Mohali where he breathed his last.

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



Property dealers meet DC on new rates
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, April 6
Residents of the area, members of the Zirakpur Property Dealers Association and the Dera Bassi Property Dealers Association have lodged a protest against re-fixing of minimum rates for land within the limits of the civic body by the District Collector.

Property dealers of Zirakpur and Dera Bassi have also flayed the 3 per cent hike in stamp duty in the state. They complained that with this decision the government had put additional burden on the common man.

A delegation led by Mr Kulwinder Singh, president of the Zirakpur Property Dealers Association, met Mr Tejveer Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Patiala, and gave him a memorandum.



Power cut in Zirakpur areas
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, April 6
Eight villages in Zirakpur and its neighbouring areas will go without power for eight hours tomorrow.
A press note issued by the Executive Engineer of the Punjab State Electricity Board, Zirakpur Circle, said power supply to Zirakpur, Lohgarh, Bhabhat, Sanauli, Bartana, Nandiali, Adda-Jhungian, Singhpura Bhudda and the MES area will remain suspected for eight hours on Thursday. This has been done following urgent maintenance work at 66 KV sub station located in Bhabhat village.



Harpreet murder: raids on to nab servant
Our Correspondent

Mohali, April 6
While raids to nab the Nepalese servant are still going on, the police has failed to make any break through in connection with the murder of a Sector 68 resident here allegedly by her husband.

According to the police, a team had today been sent to Uttar Pradesh, in search of Deepak, the servant of the family. The police said that the murder case would get solved only after the arrest of the servant. The police said that Deepak was at home even at 7 a.m. while the murder had been committed around 4 am.

The husband, Saudagar Singh, who had been arrested on the day his wife Harpreet Kaur was found murdered, had so far failed to confess that he had allegedly committed the murder.

Harpreet Kaur was found murdered in her flat in Darshan Vihar on Monday morning. The four-year-old daughter of the deceased had been saying that her mother had allegedly been attacked by her father.

The SP, Mr Rakesh Agrawal, said that Shubreet, daughter of Harpreet Kaur, who had been taken away to Bathinda by her maternal grand parents would be again called for seeking more information.



Tutor abducts minor girl
Tribune News Service

Mohali, April 6
A Class VI student of Government Girls School, Mullapur Garibdass, was allegedly abducted by her tuition teacher.
According to the police, the girl, resident of Bharonjia village, has been missing since March 22 when she went to appear for her examination and did not return.

The girl’s parents found that her tuition teacher Rajan, alias Pradeep Sharma, had also been missing from his house since then. Rajan was living with his family as a tenant in Mullapur Garibdass.

The father of the girl, Gurmeet Singh, a daily wager, today contacted the police and following preliminary investigations the police booked Rajan under Sections 363 and 366 of the IPC on the charges of abducting a minor.

According to Mr Bhagwant Singh, SHO, Mullapur Garibdass, Gurmeet Singh, in his complaint has stated that his daughter, the youngest among his five daughters, failed in Class VI last year.

He arranged for her tuitions at home and Rajan was employed to come home and teach her.

Gurmeet Singh told the police that the family did not suspect anything wrong about the tuition master since he was married and had two children.

He added that his daughter had not contacted him ever since she had gone missing.



Man commits suicide
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 6
A 35-year-old man hanged himself to death this afternoon at his Daddu Majra house here.
The family members of the deceased reportedly said that he was depressed about the repayment of loans he had raised earlier to buy a house.

Nirmal Singh, father of three children hanged himself from a hook on the ceiling. The father of the deceased, Mr Gurdial Singh, told the police that Nirmal had gone to see off his wife at the bus stand at around 3 pm.

On coming back he told his brother to look after their electronic appliances shop. After that he went to his room saying that he would be back after changing his clothes.

When he did not come back for a long time his brother asked his father to check. The father went to the room of the deceased and found it was locked from inside.

He then broke open the door and found Nirmal hanging. They immediately rushed him to the hospital, where the doctors declared him brought dead.

The police said it had initiated the inquest proceedings in this case.

The post-mortem will be performed tomorrow.



Youth snatches chain
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 6
A motor cycle borne youth snatched a chain from a woman in Sector 40 here today, the local police said. Ms Ritu, resident of Sector 40, reported to the police that an unidentified motor cycle borne youth snatched her chain from outside her residence.

The police said the woman came out of her house to buy some thing when the incident occurred. She raised alarm but in vain.

A case has been registered under Sections 379 and 356 of the IPC.

Thieves held: The local police arrested two persons for trying to steal a scooter from a house in Sector 38-A, yesterday.

The accused have been identified as Sanjay and Kuldeep Singh, both residents of Janta Colony, Sector 25.

They were produced before a local court, which remanded them to judicial custody.

Scooters stolen: Ms Gurpreet Kaur of Sector 41-A reported to the police that her Honda Activa scooter (CH-03-Q-2253) was stolen from her residence on the night of April 4.

In a similar incident, Mr R.K. Taneja of Shivalik Enclave, Mani Majra lodged a complaint with the police that his scooter (HR-03-B-1606) was stolen from his residence yesterday. Cases of thefts have been registered.

Gambling: The local police arrested Tinku Sharma of Maloya Colony at a booth market in the same locality for gambling at public place yesterday.

The police recovered Rs 155 from him and booked him under the Gambling Act.



Taxi drivers manhandle firm head
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 6
Mr Surinder Singh, Proprietor of Health Care Systems, was allegedly beaten up by two taxiwallahs at the Chandigarh railway station yesterday.
The drivers at the taxi stand assumed Mr Surinder Singh’s car, a Cheverolet Travera, to be a taxi from outside the station taking away potential customers. They deliberately manipulated events leading to fisticuffs in which Mr Singh was allegedly hurt.

Mr Singh, a resident of Mundikharar, was at the station yesterday to receive two directors of his company. When he came out, he found a white Indica parked in front of his car.

Despite repeated requests to the parking attendants to get the Indica moved, Mr Singh got no help, either from the parking attendants or from the drivers at the taxi stand.

When Mr Singh finally decided to move the Indica himself, the trouble began. Two drivers from the taxi stand came up to him and started fighting. Since he had two guests waiting in the car with pending business at hand, Mr Singh proceeded to his meeting. In the evening, Mr Singh went to the nearby police station where Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) Hakam Singh was on duty. The ASI promised to take action and asked Mr Singh to come back the next morning.

Mr Singh was not permitted to write his entire complaint down the next morning and was asked by ASI Hakam Singh to drop the complaint as one of the perpetrators, Gurinder Singh, had come in to beg forgiveness. According to him, a compromise was better in the circumstances.

A parking attendant, on condition of anonymity, admitted that the parked Indica was indeed from the taxi stand at the railway station.

Head Constable Darshan Singh admitted that the incident had taken place, but said a complaint had come in from Gurinder Singh that a tyre of the Indica was deflated, resulting in the brawl. He said, “We will make Gurinder Singh apologise tomorrow.”



2 charged with kidnapping held
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 6
The local police has arrested two persons accused of kidnapping a minor girl in Sector 52 last year. They were arrested from their residences late last night. The whereabouts of the kidnapped girl are not known as the main accused is still at large.

The police said Sunil Kumar of Sector 52 and Ravinder Singh of Nehru Colony, Sector 53, were relatives of the accused. They were produced before a local court, which remanded them in judicial custody. The police said it was conducting raids in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab to arrest the main accused.

The police had also conducted a raid on the office of the father of the accused at Samana in Patiala district where it was told that he had been absent for nearly three months.

The girl was kidnapped in October last year from Sector 52.



NRI girl’s molestation: accused still at large

Chandigarh, April 6
The police is groping in the dark as the accused of molesting and attempt to kidnap the grand daughter of former Congress leader late Gian Singh Rarewala remains elusive.

The police said it could not trace the owner of the silver grey Santro car (HRG-1491), which was registered in Gurgaon. The SHO of Sector 3 police station said district transport officials reported that the records of vehicle were damaged in 1994 in a fire.

The police is now waiting for the victim, an NRI, who has gone to Dharamshala with her parents. The police has contacted her father as it need help of the girl for preparing sketches of the accused.

The SHO, Mr Kulwant Singh, further added that the police was constantly in touch with its sources in the city to get clue about the accused. OC



Grocers uneasy as stocks deplete
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 6
Wholesale grocery merchants in the Sector 26 Grain Market are a worried lot these days for the stocks of certain goods are fast running out.
Traders maintain that following the implementation of the value added tax (Vat) in various states from April 1, confusion prevails among merchants of Khari Bawli, Delhi, who are the major suppliers of grocery to the city.

Since there has been no supply of grocery during the past one week, stocks of wholesaler merchants are fast depleting.

Grain Market Association spokesperson Ravi Prasad Kansal said big traders of Khari Bawli who supply pulses to the merchants in the city have stopped the supplies for there is provision of 4 per cent tax on pulses in Chandigarh whereas in Delhi these were tax free.

They have also stopped the supply of a few other goods like “papad”, pickle and “sharbat”. With the outset of summer, demand for these goods goes up but markets are reporting shortage due to poor supply.

Satbhushan, a trader, says excise officials are also considering a proposition to bring down tax on “haldi”, spices, etc. from 4.4 per cent to 4 per cent.

While officials maintain that goods taxed at 8.8 per cent will attract a tax of 12.5 per cent, including branded salt.

Even papad manufactured by Mahila Gramudyog unit, which was earlier exempted from tax, will be taxed at 12.5 per cent.

In fact, a unit of Lijjat Papad in Ludhiana has stopped the production of the same, it is learnt.

Mr Trilok Khurana, a grocer, said not only were 5,000 grocery traders facing the brunt of Vat, average consumers were also facing problems in procuring goods due to the shortage in supply.

Since Vat is yet to be implemented in Chandigarh, traders continue to use their old bill books and sell goods at the old tax rates. But with excise officials not able to give clear-cut indications on the implementation of Vat, the issue is still hanging.



Maruti getting out of reach for middle class
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 6
Maruti 800 may no longer be the pet vehicle of the middle-class segment as the consumers will now be forced to shell out Rs 9,500 to Rs 28,000 more to buy the same. And though the marketing gurus predict a boom in car sales with the coming of the Euro-III model, many people in the service sector may not be able to afford the same due to the cost factor. The long-time favourite vehicle on the roads may well lose its sheen due to the increase in prices.

A senior official in the Regional Office of Maruti Udyog Limited (MUL) here said the Euro-I model of Maruti-800, with a basic price of Rs 1,90,000, is already out of the market, The Euro-II model priced at Rs 2,85,000 is almost on its way out. Both the dealers in the city have limited stocks of the same and the company has already declared it as outdated. It has launched the Euro-III model priced at Rs 2,18,000 from April 1. Though the stocks of the new model have already arrived, their sales are as of now negligible for people are still going in for the Euro-II model because of its lower prices, the official added.

The dealers feel that the price hike would affect their sales for a car model which was within the reach of the middle class segment at Rs 1,90,000. It would now be available for Rs 2,18,000 and he would be required to shell out Rs 28,000 more. Similarly, once the Euro-II model goes out of stock, the buyer would have to dish out Rs 9,500 more to buy his choicest car. The prices of all other models of Maruti as of now remain the same. But since VAT is yet to be implemented in Punjab and Chandigarh, another 0.5 per cent increase in the price of cars is yet to come about. The introduction of VAT and increase in the price of steel would further see an increase in the prices of cars.

Due to the entry of the new Euro model, the price of the basic 800 model has shown a 5-15 per cent increase in prices but the company had predicted a hike of up to 5 per cent hike in the prices of all its models but that is yet to happen.

The regional manager of the company, Mr Hardeep Singh Brar, said during March, 2005, the company has sold more than 7,000 cars in Punjab and Chandigarh as against 6,000 sold in March last year due to an anticipated increase in the prices of cars. He admitted that announcements made by the company projecting a hike in the prices of cars from April has had a definite bearing on their sales in March.

Besides Maruti the country's second biggest carmaker, Hyundai, Ford and General Motors have recorded phenomenal growth in their sales.



Uncertainty over VAT affects medicine sales
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 6
The uncertainty over imposition of VAT in the city has affected the availability of medicines in chemist shops with none of them making any new purchases. In press note issued by the Chandigarh Chemists Association, here today, its general secretary, Mr Vijay Anand, said that various depots and companies selling drugs online had changed their software in accordance with VAT.

These companies were now unable to effect sales as per current taxation laws, creating acute shortage of medicines, especially life-saving drugs. Certain types of insulin used by diabetics and other medicines for cardiac and hypertension patients were not available at many retail counters. The press note added that if there was further delay in implementing VAT in the city, the situation could worsen. 



IIT graduates launch placement firm
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 6
eLitmus, promoted by IIT graduates with over five decades of cumulative experience across various industries, is fired with the mission to revolutionise entry-level recruitment in India since over three million fresh graduates from over 13,000 colleges in India seek jobs every year.

The process of selection of fresh graduates is time consuming and expensive exercise. Further, the lack of congruency within grading systems across universities leaves companies with no objective, standardised benchmark.

eLitmus has been launched to meet the challenge. “We will measure the pH of each candidate and the test will be held once every month all across India. This test, is not subject specific, but will evaluate the basic skills required to succeed in any profession.”

“The score will be based on logic and deduction skills, language skills and the ability to compute,” said Mr Aseem Marwaha of eLitmus while addressing a press conference, here today.

Explaining the procedure to apply for the test, a candidate should be a final year student or a graduate with not more than two years of work experience. The pH score will be hosted on the eLitmus site for companies and candidates to refer and use. In addition, the eLitmus site also enables both candidates and companies to find each other through a technology platform that is less time consuming, efficient and effective.

“The idea is to provide the candidate an unbiased evaluation of his aptitude and a score that is given credence by over 50 major recruiters across the country.

In a nutshell, eLitmus lets a candidate “get Discovered” by providing an unbiased, fair and equitable evaluation program,” he said.



Food outlet opened
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 6
Catchy colour combinations of blue and orange and lilting music welcome customers at the new Hot Millions outlet in Sector 9.
Newly opened “Tavern” has a seating capacity of 70 and offers a restaurant, a salad bar, a private lounge area. The ambience is Greek, inspired by the Baha style of architecture.


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