C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Petrol dealers’ strike hits motorists
Long queues at company-owned outlets
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 18
For city residents and people living in neighbouring areas, it was a long wait at company-owned petrol stations today as other stations observed a day-long strike on a nationwide call given by the Federation of All-India Petroleum Traders (FAIPT).

Barring five stations in the city and 23 in Punjab, all others remained closed.

It being a holiday today, the strike had a minimal impact on commuters. Company officials also claimed that only 10 per cent sales were affected due to the strike.

The filling stations that came to the rescue of commuters were CITCO station in Sector 9, IBP-Sector 33, BP-21 and two others in Sectors 42 and 56.

A Sector 18 resident, Rajat, had to borrow his brother’s vehicle to reach office as his bike was short on fuel. “Though five company-owned stations functioned in the city, none of these was located close enough to my residence,” he said.

For all those who went in for a refill on Sunday, things weren’t all that easy either as panic buying and long queues awaited them there.

“If only I was aware of the strike, I would have gone in for a refill while returning from work on Saturday evening,” said Sunny, an executive with a private bank.

A few others who were careless about getting their tanks stocked had to push their vehicles to reach the nearest filling station.

However, the senior regional manager of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HPC) and coordinator for oil companies in the city, Mr Vikas Yadav, said the prior announcement of the strike by various associations did not affect vehicle owners, transporters or petroleum companies. Vehicle owners, most of whom were aware of the strike, had already filled the tanks of their vehicles during the past two days. Even companies received their general quotas of supply of petrol and diesel.

According to figures available, the daily consumption of petrol and diesel at the 39 petrol stations in the city is 1.8 lakh litre and 1.4 lakh litre, respectively.

Of this, 10 per cent sales were registered today at the stations that remained open, while 40 per cent sales were witnessed yesterday. He expected the sales to be more than 40 per cent of the normal sales tomorrow.

The General Manager of the Indian Oil Corporation, Mr V.J. Chhibber, said sales of nearly 50 lakh litres of diesel and 20 lakh litres of petrol were affected in Punjab and Chandigarh due to the strike.

Even though petroleum companies were expected to make up for the loss, they were still short by 10 per cent.

The stock of supply was not affected at any of the stations as most of these had advance supplies for at least five days.

The general secretary of the Chandigarh Petroleum Dealers Association, Mr Mohinder Jeet Singh, said the strike was observed in protest against the rate of commission being paid to them by petroleum companies.

“We are still being paid commission on our stocks, as was the practice 30 years ago. This should be 5 per cent on the sales and not on stocks,” he said. In fact, fuel prices and taxes on oil should be uniform across the country, he suggested. The president of the association, Col H.S. Kapur, said: “We are aware of the problems faced by commuters, but we have no choice. The government should intervene in the matter and resolve the issue to protect the interest of public.

The federation is demanding an increase in dealers’ commission to five per cent from the current 1.59 per cent on petrol and 1.27 per cent on diesel. The petrol stations will open at midnight tonight.



Woman ‘held’ captive by brother
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 18
In a shocking incident, a woman has allegedly been held captive by her brother for the past over one and a half years in Dhanas village on the pretext of being “mentally disturbed”.

However, residents of the village have disputed the family’s contention, saying that the woman was normal and the family was “illtreating” her. When one of the neighbours incidentally met her recently, she talked normally, said Mr Swaranjit Singh, a village resident.

The residents, in a complaint to human rights organisation Lawyers for Human Rights International (LHRI) on April 16, urged it to intervene in the matter and “save the woman.”

Meanwhile, her brother, Mani, refuted the allegations, saying that she was “mentally upset” and was under treatment.

Acting on the complaint, a four-member team of lawyers and human rights activists comprising Mr Arvind Thakur, Mr Neelam Singh, Mr M.S. Narial and Mr Arvinder Singh Rana, yesterday visited the village and tried to talk to the woman. Though the team managed to reach the room the woman was confined to, it could not talk to her in the wake of stiff resistance by the family.

Narrating the sequence of events, Mr Thakur alleged that the dingy room the woman was confined to had not been opened and cleaned for months together. Eatables, such as namkeen and pieces of bread, had been lying scattered on the floor.

When the door was pushed open, the woman was sitting on the floor in tatters. However, she appeared to be normal and spoke in fluent English, Mr Neelam Singh added.

Mr Thakur claimed that the team was told by her brother, Mani, that she had been depressed following a “mutual divorce” a few years ago. She was married in Pinjore in 2000, Mani claimed while her father said the year of marriage was 2002. On the other hand, her sister-in-law contradicted them claiming that the woman was married in 1999, the team members alleged.

Mr Swarnjit Singh claimed that she had not been seen by the neighbours for the past one and a half years. The villagers had even offered to get her treated but the family had refused, saying that it was their personal matter, he alleged.

However, Mani alleged that certain neighbours were unnecessary trying to create a controversy. One of the neighbours had an altercation with my wife and the controversy seemed to have stemmed from that, Mani added.



Chandigarh college lecturer kills self in Mohali
‘Suicide note’ written with chalk on door
Kulwinder Sangha

Mohali, April 18
A Chandigarh college teacher allegedly committed suicide by hanging herself at her parents’ home here today. The body of Davinderjit Kaur (30), who was a lecturer at a BEd college, was found hanging from the ceiling fan in a room on the second floor of her parents’ house in Phase III B-1.

She had been a gold medallist during her academic career. She was married to an Assistant Professor at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, and has five-year-old daughter. A few lines were written in Hindi with a piece of chalk on a wooden door of the room where her body was found by her mother. The message, allegedly written by her said that she was taking the step because her husband was harassing her. ‘Mera pati mujhe tang karta hai. Is liye main yeh kadam utha rahi hoon,” it said. The message also asked her mother to look after her child. It was signed in English, “D Kaur”, and bore today’s date.

The mother cried for help on seeing the body of her daughter. The victim’s father was also at home at the time. Neighbours gathered at the house and one of them called the police.

The police found the body hanging from the ceiling fan with a dupatta. Below the body was a small table which had been placed on a bed. The mattress on the bed had been moved to the adjoining bed.

Her brother, Mr Narinderjit Singh, married at the house here on Saturday and the newly-weds had left for Manali on their honeymoon last evening. Davinderjit Kaur had participated actively in the wedding ceremonies and appeared to be happy, according to a neighbour.

Davinderjit Kaur had urged her father to invite her husband to her brother’s wedding, but did not turn up.

Local DSP, Harpreet Singh, said that Davinderjit Kaur married in November, 1998. Her husband, Charanbir Singh, was working as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Veterinary Biochemistry at PAU and lived in Jalandhar.

The DSP further said that she was allegedly being harassed by her husband and in-laws, who were making various demands from her family. She had returned to her parents’ home in Mohali a few months after the marriage.

The father of the deceased, Mr Hargopal Singh Madan, who works as Senior Administrative Officer, Geological Survey of India, Jaipur, said that the husband wanted a divorce but Davinderjit Kaur was against such a step. She used to talk to her husband now and then on the phone.

Mr Madan said Davinderjit Kaur’s husband had started coming here on weekends occasionally. However, he had not come here for the past about a month.

The DSP said the police has registered a case under Section 306 of the IPC against her husband and he had been arrested from Jalandhar tonight.



Suicide by businessman
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 18
Depressed over financial losses a 46-year-old- businessman set himself on fire at his Sector 28 residence, this morning. He later succumbed to injuries in the PGI in the evening.

According to the police, Rishi Kumar Garg set himself on fire after pouring kerosene in the bathroom of the house. His wife Kiran had gone out to buy vegetables, when he took the extreme step at 10 am. He was rushed to the PGI with 99 per cent of burns. He succumbed to his injuries at 6 pm.

The police said, the deceased, a rice dealer was running into losses for the past two years. He had joint business with his brother Pawanraj Garg (56). Rishi had sold a [portion of his house and his shop to raise money to cover to his losses and was living at his brother’s house with his wife and a son. The other two daughters of the deceased are married.

The police said, Rishi Kumar Garg was also a patient of diabetes and was suffering from other ailments also.

The police registered an attempt to suicide case against the deceased. 



Notice to firm for charging toll tax
from defence personnel

Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 18
In perhaps the first case of its kind, an international firm could face legal action for charging toll tax from armed forces personnel using the newly constructed Delhi-Noida flyover. Charging toll tax from defence personnel violates Indian law.

In a notice issued to the firm’s president and other officials based in South Africa and The Netherlands, a city-based lawyer has pointed out that under provisions of the Indian Tolls (Army and Air Force) Act, it is illegal and punishable to charge toll tax from military personnel on any road bridge or turnpike. The Act has an overriding power on all other directives and orders issued by the government.

Army officers using the flyover to commute on official duty had forwarded numerous complaints to Army Headquarters about being charged toll at the bridge. Toll was even being collected from military vehicles and convoys plying on the route. A large number of officers posted in Delhi reside in Noida. Besides, this route is also used to transport military equipment and supplies to parts of Uttar Pradesh.

The Chief of Army Staff’s Secretariat is learnt to have taken a serious view of the matter and is keenly pursuing the matter and examining various options, including legal recourse, available to redress the situation.

The notice states that though the provisions of the Act have been repeatedly brought to the notice of the firm’s collaborators and agents in India, the violation of law continues.

The notice further states that no toll tax operators are charging toll from defence personnel or military vehicles in any part of the country. Recently, the Ministry of Surface Transport and Highways also issued revised instructions, debarring operators from charging tax from armed forces personnel.

Sources said the firm responsible for collecting toll on the Delhi-Noida flyover had earlier taken the plea that it is a private body and hence government laws are not applicable to them. Later they changed their stance and claimed that the contract did not specify exemption to defence personnel.



Ram Navmi celebrated with enthusiasm
Tribune News Service and UNI

Chandigarh, April 18
Ram Navmi was celebrated today in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh with traditional gaiety and fervour.

Bhajans, kirtans, religious discourses, blowing of couch shells and recitation from the Ramchritmanas marked the birthday celebrations of Lord Rama at several places in the region.

Tableaux depicting various facets of Lord Rama’s life were taken out at many places.

Thousands of men, women and children participated in the festival celebrations. A large number of religious and philanthropic organisations organised free kitchens at many places.

In Haryana, Ram Navmi was celebrated with enthusiasm as hundreds of devotees visited temples and offered prayers. People in large numbers visited the Mansa Devi Temple, near here, and waited in long queues to have darshan of Mata Mansa Devi.

In Himachal Pradesh, people thronged various temples, including famous Nainadevi, Chintpurni, Jwalamukhi and Kangra temples, to participate in the celebrations. Reports of Ram Navmi celebrations were also received from various parts of Punjab.

In the city, hundreds of devotees visited various temples and participated in the celebrations where discourses, bhajans, kirtans and recitations were held.

JALANDHAR: Life and teachings of Lord Rama were depicted through a large number of “jhankis” which, were brought out in the city with full religious fervour and as part of two-day Ram Navmi festivities on Sunday and Monday.

Thousands of people from all walks of life and religious and social organisations participated in a “shobhayatra”, which was brought out from Hind Samachar Grounds this morning. They were greeted by Mr Vijay Chopra and Mr Avinash Chopra, organisers of the Ram Navmi Utsav Committee.

Dr Kewal Krishan, Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, Mr Avtaar Henry, Mr Lal Singh, Mr Ramesh Dogra, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Mr Amarjit Samra and Mr Hans Raj Josan, all Punjab ministers, also participated in the procession which was showered with flower petals by devotees as it passed through different bazars of the city.

Another “shobha yatra”, was brought out from the local Devi Talaab Temple on Sunday. As thousands of devotees, participating in this “shobha yatra”, passed through different bazars and lanes of the city, it was greeted by orchestra parties, “langars” and “chhabils”. A large number of saints, TV stars like Arun Govil of “Ramayana” fame, Goofi Paintal, Nitis Bharadwaj and Swami Ram Dev Ji, a national level yoga expert, also participated in the procession, said Mr Shital Vij, chairman of the Devi Talaab Temple Management Committee. He said a special “jyoti” had been brought from Ayodhya, the birthplace of Lord Rama, and it was placed in the temple so that devotees could have “darshan” of it.

AMRITSAR: Thousands of devotees thronged the Durgiana Temple to participated in the havan performed at the Sitla Mata Mandir on the occasion of Ram Navmi.

A number of ‘’shobha yatras’’, depicting various phases of the life of Lord Rama, were held in the city.



Ram Navami celebrated
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 18
Ram Navami, Lord Rama’s birthday was celebrated with enthusiasm in the city today. All major temples of the city were decorated. In Shri Radha Krishan Mandir, 40 A, the programme started with ‘havan’ in the morning and flag of the temple was hoisted. Maha Mangleshwar Swami Daya Nandgiri from Hardwar gave a discourse on spiritualism. He exhorted the devotees to follow the path showed by Lord Ram. Later langar was served to the devotees.

It was double celebration at Sree Chaitanya Gaudiya Math Sector 20, as it was the 81st auspicious appearance day of the present Acharya of Swami Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaj. Devotees from various parts of India participated in the function.

Srila Acharayadev — Srila B.B. Tirtha Maharaj, delivered a spiritual discourse on Lord Rama on the occasion.

Similar programmes were held at Sanatan Dharma Mandir, Sector 38, 37, 23, 24 and Shri Lakshami Narayan Mandir Sector 20. It was celebrated at Sanatan Dharam Temple, Sector 46. President of Sanatan Dharam Sabha, Jatinder Bhatia who is also a councillor and chairman of the electricity committee of municipal corporation gave details of construction work and various other projects being undertaken by the Sabha.



Navratra mela concludes
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 18
The 10-day Chaitra Navratra Mela concluded at the Sri Mata Mansa Devi shrine complex here today. About seven lakh devotees visited the shrine during the mela from various parts of the country and made offerings to the tune of Rs 35 lakh.

The Deputy Commissioner, Panchkula, and Chief Administrator of the Sri Mata Mansa Devi Shrine Board, Mr Brijender Singh, said the mela was a success. He said no untoward incident occurred during these days and adequate arrangements were made to facilitate a number of pilgrims who had visited the shrine. He lauded the Police Department for maintaining law and order.

During the mela, the pilgrims offered 809 items of silver and 43 of gold while paying obeisance at the shrine. Apart from this, several other items, including a large quantity of desi and vanaspati ghee, utensils, wall clocks, electric fans, clothes and bells made of brass were also offered by devotees.

Today, the Director, Public Relations, Mr Rajeev Sharma, accompanied by his wife, was among the first few to pay obeisance at the shrine. Others who were also present on the occasion included the Deputy Commissioner, the Subdivisional Officer (Civil), Mr Virender Dahiya, and Secretary of the board, Ms Vandana Disodia.



NCB seeks record of ex-serviceman
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 18
Narcotics Control Bureau, (NCB) officials today sent a communication to the Punjab Police to provide the record of ex-serviceman Gurinder Singh Bhullar, a local millionaire and drug addict, regarding his involvement in criminal activities.

KomalThe Superintendent of Police, NCB, Mr O. P. Sharma, told Chandigarh Tribune that they had written to the Punjab Police to provide the details of past records of Bhullar, who was court-marshalled in 1988. Mr Sharma said during interrogation, Bhullar had admitted that some terrorists had stayed at his farmhouse years ago.

On the other hand, Komal, who was arrested on Saturday hours before Bhullar landed in the NCB trap, told the officials during interrogation that Mehal Singh had given her the contraband for smuggling. She has given details of Mehal Singh. The NCB has apprised Border Security Force officers posted along the Indo-Pakistan border of Mehal Singh.

The NCB officials said Mehal Singh was suspected to be Mehla, a notorious drug-trafficker active in Amritsar district.

Mr Sharma said the possibility of Bhullar’s involvement in earlier incidents of drug-trafficking could not be ruled out.

They were on a two-day police remand. NCB officials would produce the accused before a local court tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Parkash Singh, a car driver arrested along with Bhullar, told the investigating officers that he was not aware of the activities of Bhullar. He said Bhullar had only hired him for that single trip.

Bhullar, who is based in Sector 22, admitted to having supplied 40 kg of charas when he was posted in Pithoragarh years ago.



Passing Thru

What are your current projects?

H.P. Singh
H.P. Singh, Mumbai-based producer, owner of event management company, Crystal Films and Entertainment Links

I have been producing musical videos till now and now I have plans to produce movies. At present, I am working on two films, including a Punjabi movie ‘Asin Aa Tere Yaar Pardesi’ and one Hindi movie ‘Dulha Bana Football’. The star cast will be completely new.

Your views on the trend of musical videos and what is needed to make them popular?

I have been producing Punjabi pop musical videos. The combination of east and west is in great demand today. But we should not follow western style blindly. There has to be a traditional flavour in the music which will appeal to the masses. I am going to launch Kunal Ganjewala’s album in association with Santokh Singh soon.

What brings you to Chandigarh?

I had a meeting with an event management company here. I need a lot of people for my movie and I am looking for models also. I feel that youngsters of this city are very talented along with the good looks. I keep on organising model hunt and talent shows too which will provide them a good opportunity to display their talent.

— Swarleen Kaur



Chandigarh Calling

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to the city on April 13 cost Ms Anu Chatrath, the city Mayor, her trip to the US. She was invited to Concord city in California to participate in the second annual Baisakhi diversity festival scheduled for April 16. Ms Chatrath was to go for an interview at the US Embassy in New Delhi on the very day the PM was here. The Mayor dropped it for she said, “The occasion of the PM’s visit demanded my presence in the city in the capacity as Mayor.”

Foibles of stars

The foibles of stars seem to have dampened the ardour of the quintessential Punjabi wedding season this year. The sacred stars of Brahaspati and Sukhra are on the descent from October 6 to mid-November and eager couples are in a quandary as no marriages can be sanctified until the stars deem it fit to rise again! Pandit Sunderlal Dangwal at the Sanatan Dharam Mandir in Sector 16 offers an overripe banana in commiseration. “Each day is an auspicious one; it depends on what your beliefs are. There is nothing that a little pooja and devotion cannot fix.” April 29 to September 17 stand clear not withstanding the fury of the sun god but then that is the story for the Meteorological Department to tell! 

Kindly light

In days of yore when electricity still had to reach the Indian streets, workers would go from one lamppost to the other lighting the kerosene lamps. Our city is privileged for it never had to see those days since it was built only in modern times. But lest we take the gift of light too lightly, we must remember that there are workers still who lead kindly light at the risk of their lives. A person repairs a lamppost on a city road on Saturday. 

Tooth for tooth

For all his claims to efficient handling of even the most difficult patients, a Mohali-based dentist forced a woman to get up from his chair just because she yelled loudly when he gave her an injection. She insists he hurt her tongue, forcing her to scream because the pain was simply unbearable. “After all why should I fuss, especially when I had got so many extractions already done from him. How can he refuse, especially in the middle of treatment?” The dentist would not budge because he felt blood-curdling screams like this were bound to scare away other patients who were waiting for their turn. The woman wishes she could take him to the consumer court. Meanwhile, she is determined to tell all her friends and relatives about the rude behaviour and lack of professionalism of the dentist. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth?

Bee business

Some days ago, honeybees swarmed unsuspecting students of Vocational Training Centre at the Karuna Sadan building in Sector 11. Stung by bees, they made headlines, besides bringing to the fore a strange fact. Housed in the same building is the Environment Society of India (ESI), an NGO, which makes tall claims about its expertise on beehives and their removal. The ESI had earlier even conducted a survey on the number of beehives across Chandigarh and had brought to the fore this interesting bit of news - a neem tree in Sector 26 Nature Park has the maximum number of beeshives -26. One wonders why officials of the ESI, who could spare so much time counting the number of beehives in a certain tree in Nature Park, could not make time to remove the hive in their office.

Not so rosy

For those who thought the old always bond in their sufferings, here is some insight. The other day when 95-year-old abandoned Rosy was taken to the Old Age Home in Sector 15 to be rehabilitated, she was greeted with both love and scepticism. Some inmates were happy to welcome the shattered woman; others felt she was too “dirty” to live with them. A few went to the extent of lodging a silent protest when Rosy, with her carefree habits, made some carefree remarks. One of the inmates even refused to share the room with the old woman, and dared the authorities with dire consequences if they did not heed to her request of shifting the new incumbent somewhere else. The cause behind the controversy was that the complaining inmates were paying for the services they were getting. So they demanded complete independence. Why should they spare a thought for someone too old to demand and too poor to pay! The situation finally resolved when Rosy was shifted somewhere else.

Saigal fan

Sixty-seven-year old Srinivas Kumar came from Bangalore to celebrate the 101st birth anniversary of K.L. Saigal in the beginning of April. A chance performance, on the occasion, for the Chandigarh Chapter of the Environment Society of India earned him the distinct honour of being referred to as “Karnataka’s K L Saigal” This shy and reticent gentleman got interested in Saigal’s songs in the 1970s when his passion took him to humming the tunes in buses and trains and being declared mentally unfit to travel with co-passengers! What is about Saigal that appeals to a pucca South Indian? “The subtle modulations, the voice - all magical, songs in those days were not accompanied by orchestras and background sounds, it was pure melody.”

Friends in need

The old man sat on the horse-drawn cart, ‘desiccated’ by the sun. The horse stood still flicking flies with his ear but not moving, right in the centre of the road. The old man, reedy, bent with age looked on calmly, prodding the horse feebly with a stick. The horse, needless to add, did not budge. The old man hopped off clucking impatiently. His bandy legs carried him in front of the horse. They looked at each other. The old man put his hand forward crooning to the horse and stepping right up, gave him a hug. The horse stepped forward. The old man pulled himself up onto his cart and off they went, two friends.

Paying a price

City residents are finding it hard to keep up with the frequent hike in the charges by city cable operators. And this is an essential expense because there is no fighting the television. The charges vary from Rs 250 to Rs 300 with paid channels in vogue. Some residents even feel that a personal dish antenna would work out to cost just about as much as the annual charges.

— Sentinel



CTCC ‘convention against Bahl’ on April 24
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 18
Row in the Chandigarh Territorial Congress took a new turn today with announcement of a convention against Mr B.B. Bahl, president of the local unit of the party. The convention is scheduled for April 24, sources said.

The convention gains importance in the light that the elections to the president of the local party are scheduled shortly.

The party is rife with dissensions between two groups one of which is backed by Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, Member of Parliament and another by Mr B.B. Bahl, president of the local unit.

A meeting of the party workers was attended today by a number of office-bearers of the unit. Those present included Mr Ram Pal Sharma, vice-president of the local unit, Mr Bhupinder badheri, president of the District Congress (Rural), Mr Pardeep Chhabra, Mr H.S.Lucky, Mr D.S. Babla, Mr Mohammad sadiq, Mr Pawan Sharma and Mr Kulwant Singh, besides others.

The party workers alleged that Mr Bahl was not acting according to the party’s guidelines. “He was supporting the anti-public moves of the administration. Our voice against the Deputy Commissioner and the Governor have not been supported by him”, an office-bearer said.

Mr Bahl said he did not want to comment anything on the issue. 



SC certificates still not issued
Students worst affected
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 18
Hundreds of Scheduled Caste residents here are waiting for certificates which will allow them some benefits under the reserved category. 

These include youngsters wanting admissions in colleges, universities and looking for government jobs.

The Administration stopped issuing the Scheduled Caste certificates in 1996 citing a judgement of the Supreme Court. Besides admissions and jobs, the certificate is required for procuring loans and various subsidies offered by the government under various schemes.

The plea of the Administration is that people who came to Chandigarh after 1966 must get certificates proclaiming them to the SC from their parent state.

President of the Chandigarh Pradesh Valmiki Sabha H.C. Kalyan said: “Members of the community are not able to avail any benefit of government welfare schemes in the absence of the certificates.” Mr Kalyan said even children of SC government employees were being denied this document which can be issued on the basis of the caste certificate carried by their parents.

Official sources said in the past six months the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has been asked twice to allow Chandigarh to issue the SC certificates. The matter has also been taken up in Parliament and decision is awaited.



City, firm tie up for Sukhna de-silting
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 18
The Chandigarh Administration has formed a six member sub-committee to coordinate the de-silting of the Sukhna Lake with the National Ship Design and Research Centre, (NSDRC), Visakhapatnam.

The sub-committee is made up of “environmentalists and experts” in keeping with the communiqué sent by UT Administrator, S F Rodrigues on March 18 after the presentation of the de-silting plan of the Sukhna Lake by the NSDRC.

The sub-committee comprises Mr S K Sandhu, UT Irrigation Secretary, Lt Gen Baljit Singh, naturalist and conservationist Dr G.S. Dhillon, the Consulting Engineer for Water Resources Development Projects and formerly Chief Engineer Research and Director Irrigation and Power, (Amritsar), Dr. S P Malhotra, former Engineer-in-Chief, Irrigation Department, Haryana, the Superintending Engineer, Construction Circle-I, and Mr B.K. Gupta OSD (Mechanical).

According to Mr. Sandhu’s communication, “the sub committee will coordinate the execution of work with the NSDRC on behalf of the Chandigarh Administration and will also give suggestions for proper implementation of the scheme.’ Dr G.S. Dhillon says in addition to the work being carried out by the administration the repair of the three radial gates to regulate the outflow of the lake needs immediate attention.

Ironically, another member of the committee, Dr S P Malhotra has received no official communication about his inclusion in the sub-committee. Dr Malhotra feels that if the administration goes ahead with the present plan for de-silting as has been put forward by the NSDRC, then the work should be carried out soon before the monsoon begins and that should reduce the cost to Rs 2 crore instead of the proposed Rs 80 crore.

According to sources at the NSDRC the Administration has been working on some changes in the plan that had been proposed earlier and until final word comes in from the administration, the planning on the de-silting project is stalled.

Gen Rodrigues had asked for the formation of a “core group” to suggest ways to de-silt Sukhna and preserve the ecological balance in the catchment area by instituting a scientific and workable mechanism. However, with the de-silting project still with the NSDRC and the formation of a sub-committee ostensibly to coordinate the implementation of the scheme, the exact nature and role of the members is not clear. 



Think twice before chopping off dead trees
Gayatri Rajwade
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 17
A dry tree. -- Tribune photo by Karam Singh Removing dry or dead trees affects the diverse ecology that nurtures in their hollows and indiscriminate removal of healthy and dead trees has affected the ecological balance adversely as good forest management requires presence of both as vital interacting components of a forest ecosystem.

According to Mr. S. K. Sharma, President of the Chandigarh Chapter of the Environment Society of India, "A survey carried out in the winter of 2004 revealed 240 dead trees around the city. Most of these had been removed since by the Horticulture Department and have been moved to nurseries."

Mr Sharma says, "A number of dead trees were found in Sector 12 and most of the trees surveyed were severely affected by termites."

Acacia, Mango, Neem, Imli, SilverOak and Marorphali are some of the species that were identified as dead or dry during the survey.

Mr. Sharma firmly believes that, "Dead or dry trees should not be removed from their original locations whether they are standing or have fallen. If the dead trees are removed to nurseries, the main trunks of the trees should not be chopped up but left whole."

Environmentalists believe it is a misconception that when the vigour of a tree deteriorates, so does its ability to provide benefits.

Mr Sharma says, "Many wildlife species use crevices in trees for sanctuary against predators, extreme temperatures and unfavourable weather conditions and for nesting and brooding and dispersal of seeds. Rats, Snakes, Green Bee Eaters, Woodpeckers, Parrots and Owls all nest in tree hollows."

In fact woodpeckers produce audible reminders of the importance of deadwood for wildlife by using the resonant qualities of deadwood for drumming—a communication technique used to indicate territorial boundaries and to attract mates.

Insects like termites and borers eat dead wood and are very useful in adding nutrients to the soil. Beetles that forage in and around these trees are in turn food fodder for birds, reptiles and mammals.

Mr Sharma adds, "Fungi, including colourful mushrooms and toadstools seen around the woodlands also work wonders turning nutrients in deadwood into nutrients that living trees feed on."

He also insists that it is imperative to replace a dead or dry tree by planting a sapling as soon as possible.

Dr S. K. Narula, Senior Extension Specialist (Horticulture), Punjab Agriculture University, says removing of dead trees in cities are essential as they can prove to be a hazard to passers by.

"There is no question about it. Dead trees can fall on passing people and objects and within the city, dead trees must be removed."

He is, however, firm that special effort should be made to preserve dead trees in forest and wooded areas.

"As trees decompose, they slowly release nutrients that help nurture future tree growth and prevent soil erosion by holding the soil in place. The branches of fallen trees help in the regeneration of forests by protecting new tree growth from animal browsing," he explains.



Fauji Beat
Army losing dazzle, charm

There was a time when defence services were considered as one of the best professions in India. Today, not only has this profession become almost the last choice of our youth but even for matrimonial puroposes its rating has plummeted to a new low.

During the British regime, the Indian Civil Service (ICS) was no doubt regarded as the best service. But the second best was the Indian Army. Both enjoyed an enviable status. There was no lure for money in those days and this kept most of the services clean and free from corruption.

Because of its well-regulated and adventurous life, the Army had an edge over other services. What made it more attractive was its glamour, dazzle of uniform, an attractive mess life and enthralling band music.

After Independence the British mystique started melting. Over the years the Army has gone down in status. It has also lost its erstwhile shine and charm. No wonder then that today a Service chief is at the twelfth position in the Warrant of Precedence, whereas the Commander-in-Chief was next to the Viceroy before Partition. And for this reason the Army continues to remain short of over 12,000 officers.

Integrity becomes casualty

It is often said that one bad Commanding Officer (CO) can ruin a good unit. This is exactly what has happened to 9 Bihar. The CO of which had stooped so low in integrity and officer-like qualities that he sold goods from his unit’s canteen stores worth about 35 lakh in the market. He had been cashiered after a court martial.

A large number of personnel were also involved in this scam. Disciplinary action against some has already been taken. A few more would soon to be tried.

Undoubtedly, the Army has undergone a sea change from the pre-Independence days. In those days the personnel were drawn from peasantry background because of its simplemindedness. A cadet at the Military Academy is addressed as a gentleman cadet.

Since the government policy is not to restrict entry to officers’ of a high social standing, we have to accept them from all types of backgrounds. The fact that some of them bring their shoddy traits with them and taint the image of the Army cannot be denied.

Greening of Pooh

Pooh in Himachal Pradesh, known as a cold desert, remains covered with snow for five to six months in a year. During this period the people of Pooh are without work. To make use of their services in the winter months towards greening the area, a Desert Development Project (DDP) was launched the other day by Headquarters 36 Sector. This joint venture was started by holding a training-cum-workshop programme on watershed management.

On the occasion, Brig S.K. Vijeshwar, Commander, 36 Sector, emphasised upon the audience, including the ADM, Pooh, and the village pradhan the importance of greening the area. To begin with 3,000 saplings 2,000 of lavender and 1,000 of damaka rose, were planted. Besides the village community, the children of the Army Tripeak Public School took part in the plantation programme.

Medicine shortage

Most polyclinics in non-military stations remain short of not-in-vocabulary (NIV) list medicines. The financial powers of class C polyclinics is Rs 30,000 and of class A and B is Rs 50,000 per month. Considering the cost of medicines the amount is totally insufficient.

The Chandigarh Polyclinic is visited by 80-90 patients every day. Of every five patients three have to return as there is a shortage of medicines. The Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) authorities should find an answer to this problem.

— Pritam Bhullar



Roads with potholes, parks without grass
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 18
Roads and parks in Sector 38 (West) are in a pitiable condition. There is hardly any stretch of roads in the area without potholes. The parks are unkempt and green grass is missing in majority of them .

Roads in the area are all worn out. Road signs are missing here. Vehicular traffic is badly affected. The potholes in the roads are a big problem for those walking on them.

There are small stretches of open parks which have been maintained by the residents themselves. The parks have only patches of green grass and the dry soil leads to dust every where.

The sector is one of the major entry points for traffic from Punjab through Mohali. This portion witnesses traffic of heavy vehicles.

Another major problem in this residential area is the theft of manhole covers. Dozens of them have been stolen. “The residential quarters here are surrounded by a slum and there are no gates to check the entry of the outsiders. We are requesting the administration to construct gates at the entry points, which can be closed at least during the nights,” Mr Manohar Kumar Garg, president of the Joint Action Committee of the sector, said.

Mr V.K. Bhardwaj, Chief Engineer, said the recarpeting of the roads would be done “in the very near future. The details of the project have already been worked out”.



Protest against anti-encroachment drive
Councillor backs Sec-22 vendors
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 18
Anti-encroachment drive registered a protest from roadside vendors in Sector 22 here today. The opposition gained strength when Mr Pardeep Chhabra, a Councillor, joined hands with the encroachers against the Municipal Corporation.

The drive saw deployment of five vehicles for carrying away their goods. Besides the strength of 35 officials, the complex near Kiran theatre witnessed an assembly of police personnel.

The vendors were not expecting anti-encroachment action because it was a holiday. There were more than 200 protesters. The drive took an unpleasant turn when Mr Chhabra rushed to the spot. He asked the officials to stop the drive. He argued that the affected party was not being given the receipts for the goods lifted in the vehicles. The vendors often complained that they suffered losses during such drives because they did not get receipt for the goods lifted.

Confirmed sources said Mr Chhabra had a heated exchange of words with the top corporation officials.

Talking to The Tribune later, Mr Chhabra said “ I want to clarify that I am not against the anti-encroachment drive. I never reacted in the past. Now, I questioned the way the drive was being carried out. The entire area looked like a garrison. The officials were not being given receipts for the material that was being confiscated”.

Mr Chhabra said “these vendors had been in Sector 22 for more than 25 years till they were removed in 1998. They were given a place in Sector 38 from where they were once again uprooted. The authorities should provide them some alternate space to carry out their trading activity”.

A senior official of the corporation said traders of Sector 22 was not the lone party that was being singled out. The drive was also carried out in Sectors 15, 19 and 20.



‘Lift ban on tigers, lions in circus shows’
Tribune News Service

Mohali, April 18
The Asiad Circus management here today demanded that the government should lift ban on the use of animals like tigers and lions in circus shows.

At a press conference here today General Manager of the circus K.K. Misra, said the circus was like a big family and animals that performed at the circus were taken care of like family members.

He pointed out that due to dearth of such animals in circus charm of entertainment had declined. “Over the past five years the number of circus in India has come down to 13 from 48. He stressed that majority of the audience came to the circus to watch these animals perform. Bears, lions, monkeys, baboons all these animals were an integral part of a circus show. They travelled with us. And we took care of them. Now, we have elephants, horses, parrots and dogs. We take ample care of them,” he pointed out.

Mr Misra lamented that due to the government not allowing the circus to use these animals the artistes have to perform dangerous feats to keep interest of the audience alive in the shows.

Mr Misra said they had met a large number of government officials including central ministers in this regard but they had not helped them. 



PUDA to develop villages in Mohali
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, April 18
In a proposal, PUDA here will adopt various villages in Mohali for developing basic infrastructure in these villages.

According to sources, PUDA’s engineering department has been asked by the Chief Administrator, PUDA, to conduct a survey of various infrastructural changes required in these villages. The project is expected to cost PUDA crores of rupees.

Villages like Mohali, Madanpur, Kumbra, Matour, Lambian, Shahi Majra are looked after by the Municipal Council, Mohali. However, due to lack of funds, the council has, over the years, not been able to provide basic amenities to villagers. Most of these villages lack regulated water supply, sewerage pipes are not connected to the main sewerage line, there are no pucca roads and in some villages even basic sanitation and drainage facilities are lacking.

PUDA now proposes to improve infrastructure in these villages by providing these civic amenities, including roads, sanitation, sewerage, drainage, roads, street lighting, etc.

Considering that Mohali is being looked upon as the future IT destination, we have to bring the villages on a par with the rest of the town,” said Mr A.S. Chattwal, Chief Administrator, PUDA.

“Moreover, those who live here have given their land for the township and deserve better facilities. The quality of life of people here is starkly at variance from those who live in the various sectors in Mohali,” added Mr Yashvir Mahajan, Additional Chief Administrator, PUDA, Mohali.

Other than the villages that fall within the MC limits, PUDA has included Sohana village for infrastructure improvement.



Scuffle between customer, jeweller
Our Correspondent

Mohali, April 18
There were heated exchanges and a scuffle between a customer and a jewellery shop owner in Phase 3B2 here this evening.

It is reported that a couple from Sector 71 here went to the jeweller’s shop and expressed doubts about the purity of gold in an item bought from the shop earlier. There were heated exchanges and a scuffle between the shop owner and the man over the matter.

The customer ran out of the shop leaving his wife there.

Soon a crowd gathered in front of the shop and demanded that the customer’s wife should not be harassed and be allowed to leave.

The shop owner accused a person in the crowd of sending the couple to commit a dacoity on his premises.

There were charges and counter-charges between the shop owner and the customer, each accusing the other of forcibly taking away jewellery.

The police is investigating the matter.



Woman gets burns as stove bursts
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 18
A woman in her mid thirties suffered burns last night when the stove she was working on burst at the Sector 36 house, where she was working as a servant. In an effort to save her, her husband also received burns.

According to the police, Deepa, a mother of three children was cooking food, when the accident took place. She was removed to the PGI with 70 per cent of burn. She got her statement recorded before a magistrate ruling out any foul play. The police said her condition is critical. 



POWA hails PM’s views on Rent Act
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 18
The Property Owners Welfare Association (POWA) today thanked Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, for his stand on the Rent Act issue when a deputation of tenants met him recently.

His remarks “as the case is sub-judice the verdict of the Supreme Court should be honoured by all parties and the government” are above political considerations, POWA said.

The POWA flayed tactics adopted by the tenants’ bodies on the issue.

The POWA reiterated its earlier demand of bringing tenants paying monthly rent of Rs 1500 and below out of the ambit of rent control.



Optimism won me the crown: Miss India
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 18
“I am very optimistic and I don’t let failures deter me. I think these qualities set me apart from other contestants and that is why I won the crown” feels this year’s Miss India Universe Amrita Thapar.

She, along with Miss India World, Sindhura Gadde and Miss India Earth, Niharika Singh, talked to mediapersons through a videoconference organised by Reliance Web World today.

Amrita is now looking forward to bring Miss Universe crown to India. She wants to be a fashion designer.

These beauty queens talked to their fans and winners of ‘The Beauty and the Feast’ contest organised by Reliance WebWorld.

Twentyfour finalists had an opportunity to meet them through video conferencing Only three will be selected to spend an evening with these beauty queens. 



Readers write
Need to train cops in handling juvenile cases

It was shocking to read the news item ‘Let down by father, children leave home’ published in the April 2 edition of Chandigarh Tribune. Two little ones, neglected by their parents, had to run away and spend the whole night in a public park. Equally shocking was the report that the police refused to do anything saying the case did not fall in its jurisdiction and directed the children and their sympathiser to contact the Social Welfare Department.

The police is duty bound to take action against offenders of law, in this case, the father of the children. Procreation is the right of every human being. Parenting is attached with the most sacred and legal duty of bringing up the offspring in a decent manner.

Section 317 of the IPC provides for punishment for a term which may extend up to seven years for the father or mother of a child under the age of 12 years responsible for exposing or leaving the child at a place with the intention of abandoning it. The offence is cognisable by the police.

In this case, the father allegedly said he could no longer be responsible for his children as they kept running away and that he could not keep an eye on them. Unfortunately, the real mother of the children is no more and their father had married another woman. It is reported that the father is an alcoholic and used to ill treat the children.

From the facts reported in the news item, it is clear that the children qualify to be treated as ‘child in need of care and protection’ as defined in Section 2(d) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Child) Act, 2000. Section 32(1)(i) of the said Act casts a duty on the police to produce a child in need of care and protection in front of the child welfare committee constituted under the Act.

The helplessness expressed by the SHO in this case reflects not only the lack of knowledge of law on his part, but also shows that he is not sincere to his social and moral responsibility towards such children. Section 63 of the Act casts a duty on the top brass of the police to constitute Special Juvenile Police units at police stations and at district level and get policemen trained to handle juveniles or children as per the provisions of the Act.

The indifference of the SHO, as reported in the news item, clearly establishes that provisions of Section 63 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000, have not been complied with by those who matter in the police and the administration.

The government should ensure that the enactments passed for the benefit of the people are implemented in letter and spirit by the executive.

Dr Deepa Singh


Relief from court

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has provided much needed and much awaited relief to thousands by dismissing the writ petition filed by Mr B. Singh against the allotment of plots in MCD, Panchkula.

The people, who invested lakhs out of their savings or even by taking loans in the hope of getting a plot, were feeling frustrated due to the delay in draw of lots following the litigation.

The pertinent question is about the standing and credentials of Mr B. Singh and on whose authority he is holding the applicants to ransom. Is he not playing the role of ‘dog in the manger’? HUDA should not give in to the blackmail of some individuals and protect the interest of the investors.

J.K. Mago




CBI, not SBI
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 18
The State Bank of India has clarified that the bank mentioned in the Jalandhar-datelined report headlined “Bank defrauded of Rs 70 lakh” (The Tribune, April 13) should have been the Central Bank of India and not the State Bank of India as reported. 



2 houses burgled; cash, jewellery stolen
Our Correspondent

Panchkula, April 18
A gang of burglars struck at two houses in Sector 12 and decamped with valuables and cash, late last night.

The burglars broke into the houses (Nos 635 and 553) when the owners were out of station.

The burglars struck at the house (No 635) owned by an Army Subedar Hem Raj Sharma when the family was away to Delhi. House No 553, owned by Mr Ashwani Sood, a retired employee of State Bank of Patiala, was too broken into.

According to Mr Sharma, who reached home this evening, the burglars took away jewellery worth Rs 25,000 and a sum of Rs 10,000 in cash.

Mr Ashwani Sood came to know about the burglary when he returned home from Patiala.

He claimed that the burglars took away jewellery worth Rs 5000. A case has been registered.



Three jobless youths held for car thefts
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 18
The police have today arrested three unemployed youths involved in more than 10 cases of car thefts, in Panchkula and Chandigarh. The police has recovered two stolen Maruti cars from them. They are said to be involved in several incidents of thefts and burglaries in the city and surrounding areas.

According to the police, Suraj (21), Matlesh alias Babbu (20) and Sonu (19), all residents of Rajiv Colony, Sector 17, Panchkula were arrested this afternoon from a picket point at Mansa Devi Road. They were travelling in a stolen Maruti car (CH-01-F-1455), when the police stopped them at the picket for routine checking as special pickets were set up to curb the incident of chain snatching and thefts during the festival at the Mansa Devi temple. The police got suspicious as the number plate of the car was broken and signalled the car to stop. As soon as the police started inspecting the car the accused tried to run away, however, the police overpowered them, said the SHO of Mani Majra police station.

SHO Dhan Raj Sharma told mediapersons that the accused were going to take another Maruti car (HR-33-B-0090) from Motor Market in Mani Majra. The car was stolen from Sector 17 in Panchkula, last night and later they had parked it in the motor market. The other car in which they were travelling was stolen from Jattan Wala mohalla in Gobinpura, Mani Majra on April 11. The car belonged to Gurnam Singh of the locality.

The SHO said they used to steal a car to commit thefts and burglaries and later abandoned the vehicle at a secluded place after committing the crime.

They were not stealing the cars for the purpose of selling them. The cars were used only for transporting the stolen property. The police said they have admitted to steal 12 cars from Panchkula, which are not recovered as yet.

The SHO said during the preliminary investigation they have admitted that they were active in Panchkula and Chandigarh. He further added that more recoveries are likely from the accused. They were involved in the incidents of thefts for the past three-four months. The accused would be produced before a court tomorrow, said the police.



Four held for stabbing DAV College student
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 18
The police has arrested four youths for stabbing Punardeep Singh, a student of DAV College, Sector 10, on Saturday. A case of attempt to murder was registered at the Sector 3 police station.

The accused, Amaninder Singh, Jaspreet Singh, Gurmeet Singh and Harsimran Singh, all residents of Fatehgarh Sahib, were arrested from outside the college when they were coming out of college after appearing in their examinations. They are students of BA I and BA II. The police teams were sent to their residences in Fatehgarh Sahib district, yesterday also.

Purandeep was stabbed thrice by a group of students from DAV College following a scuffle over misbehaving with a girl. Purandeep was referred to the PGI, yesterday. His condition is stated to be stable.



Smack seized, two arrested
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 18
The police has arrested a man and a woman from two different places and seized 24 gm of smack while a man was held while carrying 96 bottles of liquor, the police said here, today.

Kamla of Dadu Majra Colony was arrested with 20 gm of smack from Dhanas Road, yesterday. In another incident, Gurpreet Singh of Bank Colony in Sector 42 was caught with 4 gm of smack from near Saini Bhavan in Sector 24, yesterday. Two separate cases under Section 21 of the NDPS Act have been registered against them.

Liquor seized

Gopal Gupta of Kumhar Colony, Sector 25, was held with 96 bottles of Rangeela Rose Country Wine from near Sector 14, 15, 24 and 25 round about, yesterday. A case under the Excise Act has been registered.

Car stolen

Mr Prem Sagar Sharma of Sector 42-B reported to the police that his Tata Indigo car (CH-01(T)-5867) was stolen from his residence during the night of April 16. A case of theft under Section 379 IPC has been registered.

Held for stealing

Rakesh of Grain Market in Sector 26, was caught red-handed while stealing a VCD player from a shop in the same area, yesterday. A case under Sections 379 and 411 IPC has been registered.


Mr J.K. Grover of Sector 20, Panchkula filed a complaint to the police that his video camera was stolen from a house (1877) in Sector 34-D, Chandigarh, yesterday. The police said the owner of the house was out of station when the theft was committed. A case under Section 454 and 380 IPC has been registered.


The local police arrested Jagdev Singh of Sector 24-C for gambling at a public place from the same locality, yesterday. The police recovered Rs 455 from his possession and booked the accused under the Gambling Act.


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