C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Man dies after falling from trolley, friends dump body
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, Mullanpur May 1
A man from Saini Majra village last night died at the PGI roundabout after he was run over by the trolley in which he was travelling. The accident happened when Bhagwan Singh, who was dancing after the sale of his friend’s onion crop, fell from the trolley and was crushed under it.

His friends dumped his body near Bansepur village on the outskirts of the city instead of taking him to a hospital. The accident took place at around 11.30 pm last night.

The driver of the vehicle, Harnek Singh, was accompanied by three friends for the sale of his onion crop in Sector 26 grain market. Bhagwan Singh was dancing with his friends Surinder Pal and Amardeep in the tractor-trolley after having a few drinks. They were heading back to their village.

Bhagwan Singh died on the spot. His face was crushed and blood oozed out from his ears and nose.

They loaded Bhagwan Singh’s body back in the trolley before anybody could see them. They later left the body near the Bansepur village.

The Chandigarh police received information that there was a pool of blood at the PGI roundabout. A team inspected the spot. The team, later got information from the Mullanpur police post that a body had been found near Bansepur village.

According to the police, the trio last night reached their village and washed their blood stained trolley in which the body of Bhagwan Singh was brought up to Bansepur village. They revealed the matter to the village Sarpanch in the morning, who later informed the police.

Meanwhile, panic gripped the Bansepur village when the crushed body was found on the outskirts of the village.

Teams of the Punjab and Chandigarh police has visited the spot and initially suspected murder but later reached to the conclusion that it was an accident. The police said the circumstantial evidence and lack of a motive indicated that it was an accident.

Bhagwan Singh is survived by his wife and three children.

The three have been booked for accident, unintentional death, the destruction of evidence and common intention.

The body of Bhagwan Singh was later sent to the General Hospital, Sector 16, where the post-mortem examination will be done tomorrow. The police is likely to send his viscera for chemical examination to find out if he was drunk and to rule out that he was not given any poisonous substance.

All three accused were later released on bail.



Cable charges to go up in city
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 1
Residents of the city, accustomed to the scores of national and international channels on their cable network, will have to shell out extra money from their pockets from this month onwards. Cable operators have decided to levy an increased rent, ranging between Rs 20 and Rs 30, in different sectors.

There is no official communication from the cable operators regarding the fee hike, however, a number of cable operators, while contacted, have agreed to the hike. Mr S.S. Bedi, chairman of the joint action committee of the Chandigarh Cable Operators Association, confirmed the hike.

Mr Bedi said certain operators had charged the new fee from March onwards, while a majority of them have decided to levy the extra charge this month onwards, beginning with the fees for April. The joint action committee has more than 80 members.

Mr Sandeep Bansal, chairman of the Siti Cable Network, said: “The charges had gone up because of the additional charges by the broadcasters. The charges naturally travel down to the local cable operators and the customers.”

A office bearer of the association said, “the broadcasters were told by the TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) that they could not hike the tariff by more than seven per cent for a bouquet (a group of channels). The broadcasters created new bouquets. This meant that the hike was far more than the common perception”.

“We can understand the inconvenience. But how can we bear the extra charges from channel providers? Certain cable operators in the city were in the process of winding up their work because of the increased costs”.

Mr Manvir Singh, a resident of Sector 21, said: “The customers are the ultimate sufferers in the race of maintaining their costs by the broadcasters and the cable operators. The regulatory body should go into the details of the case and recommend strict directions”.

Mr Dharam Pal Sharma, a businessman, said the Municipal Corporation should make efforts to regulate the cable network in the city. Certain guidelines should be issued regarding the charges. He said the MC had no bylaws or guidelines governing the cable network in the city. It is officially established that a majority of the 90 odd cable operators in the city are not paying any ground rent.

Mr Sharma added that “the customers should pay for their services but so should the cable operators”.



Labourer electrocuted
Tribune News Service

Mohali, May 1
A 30-year-old labourer working for Connect company was reportedly electrocuted to death here this afternoon. The victim, Pankaj, was working along with another labourer in the Phase IV residential area when the incident took place. His co-worker, Inderdev, suffered injuries due to the electric shock and was admitted to the Phase VI Civil Hospital here.

According to the police, the two were working for the laying of an underground cable for the company when they reportedly touched an electricity cable. While Pankaj was electrocuted to death on the spot, Inderdev received burn injuries trying to save him.

Both Pankaj and Inderdev are from Bihar.

The police has started inquest proceedings in the case. However, sources in the police pointed out that the contractor for the company could also be booked if it was found that the death was caused due to his negligence. Police sources added that the contractor should have known about the presence of underground electricity cables.



PEC to switch over to credit system
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 1
From the introduction of two 16-week semesters to the introduction of a grading system and credit system and an eight-week summer term, a complete academic changeover is in the offing for students seeking fresh admission to Punjab Engineering College (PEC) this year.

At a glance

* Eight-week summer term for deficient students

* Four-credit system to replace marks

* Grading system to be introduced

* A-D grade fixed as passing grades

* E and F grades for students failing to secure specified credits

* I grade to be awarded as incomplete grade 

Overhauling the academic structure to bring it in tune with the IIT pattern, PEC will have two 16-week semesters and an 8-week summer term. This term would be held during the summer vacation to conduct special classes for ‘‘deficient students’’ who fail to clear the papers held after a semester, enabling them to be thorough in the subject in which they are weak.

Doing away with the traditional system of allocating marks, PEC will, now, have a credit system for marking papers. Though the number of total credits required to pass a semester is yet to be fixed, the Board of Governors has decided to follow a four-credit system.

This system would be based on awarding credits for a specific number of marks secured by the students. The requisite pass credits would, subsequently, be decided by the PEC Senate.

While credits would be introduced in place of marks, students would be placed in a seven-tier grading system based on the credits they secure. PEC would have four passing grades of A, B, C and D, there would be two grades, E and F, for students who fail in particular papers. While grade I would be awarded as an ‘‘incomplete grade’’ to students who fail to appear in a particular paper for whatever reason.

While "E" would be a marginal failing grade which would be awarded to students who miss the pass marks by a margin of five per cent lower, the "F" grade would be for those failing in a subject. The difference between the two would be that students securing E grade would be exempted from attending the summer term for deficient students. These classes would, however, be mandatory for all students getting grade F.

The grade I would be awarded in courses or subjects in which a particular student fails to appear on account of lecture shortage or leave. Students would be required to attend 80 per cent lectures to be eligible to sit in the exams under the new scheme adopted by PEC.

This new system would, however, not apply to students already studying at PEC and would be applicable to the new batch which will join PEC in the session beginning from July.



Same diagnostic test, different results
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 1
Can same diagnostic test have different results? Test reports of four diagnostic centres have proved this in the case of Mr L.K. Sharma, a resident of Sector 27 here.

With no law to check the mushrooming of diagnostic centres, hundreds of patients like Mr Sharma are doubtful of the authenticity of their diagnostic tests.

A retired Deputy Director of the Haryana Higher Education, Mr Sharma, a kidney patient, was advised renal function tests. In one of the blood tests (S. Creatinine), the reading varies from 2.3 to 3.3 mg/dl.

The tests were conducted at charitable labs in Sectors 24, 27 and 19 and a private laboratory in Sector 22 from February 14 to March 19. While the reading at a Sector 24 charitable laboratory was 3.3 mg/dl on March 17, the reading at a private laboratory in Sector 22 was 2.7 mg/dl on the very next day.

“When the blood sample reports are not coherent, how can any doctor prescribe the proper medicine and treat the patients? In view of the variable test reports, the patient will have only improper treatment not congenial to one’s health,” a harassed Mr Sharma rued.

Mr Sharma has now approached the local Consumer Forum to safeguard the interests of patients like him. “It is a very serious matter and the forum had already written to the Director Health Services (DHS) for “appropriate action” against the diagnostic centres,” Mr H.S. Ahluwalia of the forum said.

The Director Health Services, Dr C.P. Bansal, when contacted, claimed that such variations were normal in these tests. There is hardly anything the Health Department could do as there was no law regulating the diagnostic centres in the country, Dr Bansal asserted.

However, Dr Bansal promised to look into the matter. A proposal to regulate the functioning of such centres was under the consideration of the Central Government, Dr Bansal added.



Stone crusher owners oppose combining quarries
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 1
The stone crusher owners of Panchkula today appealed to the state government to abolish the system of combining the stone quarries under various zones. They also announced that the stone crusher units of Panchkula would remain closed till May 10 to put pressure on the government so that it paid heed to their demands.

Addressing a press conference here today, the stone crusher owners said if the quarries were organised in zones, only big businessmen capable of shelling out huge money could make bids for such zones. On the other hand, if zones were not formed and all 44 quarries of Panchkula were auctioned individually, small businessmen could also make attempts to get the contracts. The latter system would force the contractors to offer competitive prices for stones as a result of which the crushers would be able to obtain the supply of their raw material by paying a reasonable price to the contractors.

Mr Surjit Rekhi, chairman of the coordination committee of various crushers’ associations of Panchkula, and Mr Rajinder Gupta, president of the Burj Kotian Crusher Association, said if the zoning system continued, the crushers would be compelled to close down the units permanently. In such an eventuality, 50,000 people including labourers and truck and tractor operators would be adversely affected.

Mr Rekhi and Mr Gupta said the previous government had introduced the system of zoning of quarries. At that time all the quarries of Panchkula were combined in a single zone and it was auctioned for over Rs 8.5 crores annually. The state government justified the move saying that it had been necessitated by the need for enhancing revenue for state coffer.

The present Congress government did away with the system of organising all the quarries of Panchkula under one zone and instead created six zones. But at the same time the government also increased the reserve price of the quarries. The total reserve price for the six zones of Panchkula has been decided to be Rs 14.93 crore annually. When the state government recently invited tenders from contractors for covering the 15-day period separating the date of expiry of the last contract and the date of fresh auctions, a Sonepat-based businessman took lease of all six zones. He offered to pay close to Rs 1 crore for the 15-day period. Going by the price offered by him for 15-days, the annual rate of lease of the six zones would come to be somewhere around Rs 24 crore. Therefore, even breaking up a single zone into six zones also had failed to allow small players to make bids for the quarries, pointed out the crusher owners.

They said the monopolistic control of quarries had led to imposition of huge royalties on the crusher owners who obtained their raw material from the contractors. While in 2000 and 2001, the rate of royalty was Rs 70 per cubic feet (cft) of stone, it shot up to Rs 120 per cft in 2002 when all the quarries were organised under one zone.

While admitting that closure of the crusher units would also create difficulty for the Sonepat businessman who had obtained the 15-day contract by paying a huge sum, the stone crusher owners said their units would be kept closed till May 10 as this was the date for holding fresh auctions for the quarries. They said they were expecting the government to “de-zone” the quarries before the May 10 deadline.

The crusher owners, who were also joined by their counterparts from Mubarakpur in Punjab (who also obtain raw material from Panchkula), said the government should either fix the rate of royalty or control the quarries itself by setting up a corporation for this purpose. The increase in the rate of royalty was leading to increase in the prices of stone chips and other items produced by the stone crushers.



UT skyline for sale
Nothing wrong in Apartment Act; need to check illegal constructions
R.P. Malhotra

THERE is nothing wrong in the Apartment Act. It does not alter the master plan of Chandigarh at all. There is no change in the skyline as the height of the building is not allowed beyond existing permissible limits. There is no burden on existing infrastructure as the Act does not allow additional covered area. Then why cry hoarse?

This sudden furore over the UT Apartment Act, after three years of its existence, is unfounded. What is the rationale behind criticism when nothing illegal is being done ? Welcomed by all and sundry, the UT Apartment Act 2002 was very carefully enacted keeping in view the acute housing shortage, skyrocketing prices and fraudulent transactions. The draft copy of the Act was placed before the public inviting objections and only three bodies, filed a few objections, which were incorporated after discussions.

Besides creating smaller independent residential units within a unit, special care was taken to maintain the sanctity of the master plan of the city. Maintaining the same height, zoning plan and permissible covered area of the buildings only internal partitioning was allowed to be sold independently so that fraudulent transactions through indirect sale documents may be checked and the buyer may raise loan to facilitate the purchase directly in his name.

The residential buildings, smaller than 1400 square yards, were not allowed to divide vertically in an order to maintain the façade of the area. However, in residential plots bigger than 1400 square yards, one division on each floor was allowed in the Act.

Besides creating more units to accommodate more people making the accommodation affordable, there were some other socio-economical reasons to go for the Act. Selling a portion of the house and possessing it too, at the time of need is one reason. Distinct division of the property among the legal heirs of the allottee is the other valid reason. Senior citizens having no other source of livelihood except a big residential house acquired in good old times, may part with a portion or two of the house to lead a respectful retired life.

If a person having three sons can construct a three-storeyed building to house all the three-separately and independently within the same property then what is wrong if another person living all alone sells the upper floors to some one else that too within legal framework ? The number of families living in the both properties will be the same. The critics should focus on widespread encroachments of public land within the city. And the critics should also focus when every rule and regulation was shelved in the name of rehabilitation policy to accommodate slum-dwellers supported by politicians.

The time is to remove unauthorised and illegal constructions to save the city from becoming a slum city. The Apartment Act is nothing but sharing the surplus with some one in need.

There is no second opinion that Chandigarh, as a planned city, is known the world over and any effort to alter the basic architectural character of the city must be sternly opposed. But at the same time this must be borne in mind, that much has changed since 1952 when bylaws to regulate the city’s buildings were formed. Bounded with limited boundaries, after the reorganisation of states in 1966, the city’s population is bursting at its seams.

Even the New Punjab Capital Periphery Act 1952 provisioned to protect the green cover of the city eventually lost its relevance as the UT administration watched helplessly the said act being virtually raped by the governments of adjoining states of Haryana and Punjab and unscrupulous colonisers. Green covers within the city periphery, too, were encroached upon by the migrants, giving birth to the unending cycle of encroachments and rehabilitation, under political pressure, turning the city into a virtual slum.

The writer is a social activist.



Passing Thru

What brings you to Chandigarh?

A: I have come here to take part in the 6th Annual Registry Meet of Indian Society of Vascular and Interventional Radiology at PGI. I have presented the latest techniques being used for plugging the bleeding vessels that go a long way in saving the lives of the patients.

Dr Sanjeev Sharma
Dr Sanjeev Sharma, Head, Department of Cardiac Radiology,
All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi. 

How and when does plugging of vessels help the patients?

In diseases like tuberculosis and lung cancer, constant coughing can cause bleeding due to the rupture of blood vessels. However by the latest technique now available with us, such vessels can be plugged and bleeding stops instantly.

Is there any latest technique developed for targeted administration of drugs for controlling cancers?

In diseases like liver cancer, it is possible now to inject chemotherapy drugs directly in the organ for controlling the spread of the cancer. By the administration of drug in the targeted organ, the chances of control are enhanced.

— Neelam Sharma 



Link road to Pinjore needs repair
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 1
The Punjab Government has failed to repair the link road in north of Chandigarh, which reduces the total travelling distance from the city to Pinjore by around 10 km. Connecting the city at Nayagoan in Punjab, the road runs up to the Pinjore-Nalagarh highway.

Pleading paucity of funds, the state government has been unable to improve the condition of the 6-km stretch of road between Nayagoan and Tanda village, the last village on the Punjab-Himachal Pradesh border. Washed away at 11 places by seasonal rivulet, Patiala ki Rao, the road has not been repaired for the past many years.

Sensing the importance of the road, even the Chandigarh Administration has taken up the issue with the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. If repaired, the existing 10-feet-wide road would provide an alternative route to the residents of Chandigarh and Mohali, other than the upcoming Chandigarh-Siswan-Baddi road.

Officers in the PWD disclosed that a proposal had been made to repair the road through the NABARD funds but it did not materialize. “Additional land has to be acquired to widen the road. The rivulet often changes its course and makes it difficult to repair the road. At least 11 causeways have to be made to make the road usable”, said the officer. Permission from the Forest Department has also to be taken as the area is closed under the Forest Act.

Repairing the road providing causeways would also mean economic prosperity for the residents of Karoran, Tanda, Tandi and Barha villages located along the road. The Panch of Tanda, Bant Singh told the Tribune that repeated representations had been given at different levels. “ During rainy season, the link with the outside world is broken as the rivulet is swollen. We have to wait for the water to recede”, he added.

Mr Shamsher Singh, a resident of Barha village , said the basic amenities on Haryana side were better. The condition of road from Prempura, the first village in Haryana up to the Pinjore-Nalagrah road was much better . A representation to repair the road has also been given to the Morinda MLA, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, who is also the Animal Husbandry Minister.

The Animal Husbandry Minister, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, told the Tribune that he would make efforts to get funds for the link road from the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana. He said he had also talked to the Deputy Chief Minister of Haryana and MLA, Kalka, Mr Chander Mohan, on the issue. He admitted that paucity of funds was delaying repair of the road.



Tributes paid to Chicago martyrs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 1
Tributes were paid to Chicago martyrs at various functions held to mark May Day in the city and the surrounding areas today.

Members of the unions affiliated to the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) took out a “prabhat pheri” from the Cheema Bhavan, Sector 30. The “prabhat pheri” went through different colonies of the workers before culminating at the Sector 22 LIC Colony.

Addressing a rally at the Cheema Bhavan, the all-India vice-president of CITU, Mr Raghunath Singh, called upon the workers to step up their struggle against the “anti-people” policies of the UPA government being dictated by the IMF and the World Bank.

Mr Charan Singh Virdi, Central Committee Member of the CPM, alleged that the UPA government, which was being supported by the Left parties, was not implementing the common minimum programme, specially the provisions for the welfare of the employees.

The All-India Centre of Trade Unions(AICTU) paid rich tributes to the Chicago martyrs by organising a function at the Shaheed Bhagat Singh Kabari Market at Hallo Majra.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Malkiat Singh, all-India secretary of the AICTU, called upon the working class to wage a relentless war against the imperialist forces to get justice for the workers.

At a rally organised by the Hotel Workers Union here, various speakers urged the Chandigarh Administration to force the hotel owners to pay minimum wages with interest from October 1, 2001. The employers had given an undertaking in the Punjab and Haryana High Court to pay the arrears with interest, they claimed.

Demanding an end to the contract system, the speakers demanded the fixation of Rs 5,000 as minimum wages for the unskilled workers and Rs 10,000 for the skilled workers.

Meanwhile, the Patiala MP, Ms Preneet Kaur, presided over a function organised by the Punjab Pradesh Paledar Union at Rajpura, near here.

The MP assured all help to the union to end the contract system in the grain markets of Punjab.

Prominent among those who spoke were Mr Hardyal Singh Kamboj, Hardev Singh Rosha, chairman of the Punjab unit of All-India Foodgrain Agencies, and Mr Jarnail Singh, president of the Punjab Pradesh Paledar Union.



Tributes paid to Chicago martyrs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 1
The Tribune Employees Union paid tributes to the martyrs of Chicago on the occasion of May Day here today. Addressing a rally held on the newspaper premises, speakers reminded the employees of the sacrifices made by the Chicago martyrs.

Expressing his concern over the way newspaper managements were trying to weaken the employee unions, Mr Jagtar Singh Sidhu, president of the union, described the growing trend as disastrous in the near future. He exhorted the workers to stay united to meet such challenges. He called upon workers to work with all sincerity for the promotion of the institution.

Others who spoke on the occasion included Mr Balbir Singh Jandu, Mr Haresh Vashishth, Mr Surinder Singh, Dr Renuka Nayyar and Mr Vidya Rattan.

A two-minute silence was observed to mark the occasion.



Workers seek better work conditions on May Day
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 1
Several functions were organised in the district to mark the May Day celebrations today. Workers and labour associations in the township demanded better working conditions and remembered the Chicago martyrs, in whose memory May 1 is observed as May Day.

A small function was organised at Labour chowk (Sector 16/17) by the Labour Nirman Sangh. Mr Jagdish Kashyap of the Sangh remembering the labourers killed in Chicago, said that working conditions for labourers should improve.

The Central Soil and Water Conservation Research Centre Workers Union also organised a function at Mansa Devi Complex. Mr Munna Lal of the Association demanded that May Day should be a national holiday. At Panchkula Bus Stand, the Sarv Karamchari Sangh too organised a function.



Farmers observe May Day
Tribune News Service

Mohali, May 1
Members of the Kisan Hit Bachao Committee (periphery area) observed May Day today. The members who are on a relay fast for the past 349 days today decided to reinforce their struggle. Members of the committee are resisting the acquisition of their land by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Punjab.



Armour Day celebrated
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 1
To commemorate the raising of the Indian Armoured Corps, Armour Day was celebrated in Chandimandir Cantonment today. It was on this day in 1941 that Indian horse-borne cavalry was converted into armoured regiments by swapping steeds with tanks.

A social get-together was organised at the Shivalik Officers Institute to mark the occasion. A large number of retired armoured corps officers based in and around Chandigarh as well as senior officers posted in Chandimandir attended the function.

The first regiment to be mechanised was the Scinde Horse. On April 14, 1938, it was re-equipped with armoured cars, with a mounted parade organised on the occasion being reviewed by the then commander-in-chief in Rawalpindi. Prior to the conversion, the regiment was known as the 14th Prince of Wales own Cavalry. The second cavalry unit to be mechanised was the 13th DCU Bombay Lancers, though it went to Pakistan after Partition.

Among the oldest regiment in the Armoured Corps is 16 Cavalry, which was raised as far back as 1776 as the 16th Light Cavalry. This is followed by 7 Cavalry which was raised in 1784 as the 2nd Regiment, the Madras Native Cavalry. Some of the younger units are just about 25 to 30 years old.



Need of vocational training for women stressed
Tribune News Service

Mohali, May 1
More than 100 men and women, including the Sarpanch and members of the Panchayat, participated in a certificate distribution function organised by the Jan Shikshan Sansthan (JSS) at its field office at Bheora village, Ropar, today.

More than 45 students of tailoring, dress making and embroidery and food preservation courses from Rangeelpur, Paprala, Raipur and Bheora villages were awarded certificates.

Speaking on this occasion, Mr Dildar Khan, Director in charge of the JSS, highlighted issues related to women’s rights and empowerment. He said though Indian society had realised the need for women empowerment and various state governments had also started various schemes for their uplift, yet women were marginalised.

In fact women empowerment would be possible only when women, rural women in particular, themselves would realise the need and the relevance of education, particularly vocational education, he said, adding that once women became educationally empowered, their hidden potentialities would become evident.

Mr Khan said nearly half of India’s population were women, yet their participation in economic activities was negligible. There was a need for the rural women to come forward to develop their entrepreneurial skills so that they could contribute significantly in the process of nation building at a faster pace.

Mr Anand Mohan Sharma, Programme Officer of the JSS, said the present era of globalisation had generated employment opportunities for women in various fields like beauty and health care, dress designing, food preservation and nutrition. They could take the benefit of such opportunities by developing their skills through vocational training programmes.

This would not only help in their economic empowerment but would provide them an equal status within their families as well as in the society. It would also help in bridging the gender gap, Mr Sharma said.

He explained in detail about the various vocational training programmes run by the JSS, particularly for women like home management, beauty culture and health care, cutting, tailoring and dress making and computer applications.

Mr Dharam Pal, Sarpanch of Phul village emphasised on the vocational training of women so that they could either be self employed or find wage employment. He appreciated the efforts put by JSS, Mohali, in this regard.

A cultural programme was also organised on this occasion. Performance by Ms Davinder Kaur, a class-II student from the village was highly appreciated by the audience. 



Migrant labourers ‘encroach on govt land’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 1
Open grounds in Sector 38 (West) are witnessing fresh entry of migratory labour. A batch arrived in at least two trucks here today. Residents have expressed concern at the growing population of “outsiders” in the vicinity of the area.

They are encroaching on government land, a resident said.

Around noon, at least two truckloads of migratory labour arrived on the spot and unloaded their belongings. Tents were pitched and small huts were erected.

Mr Atul Garg, vice president of the HIG(Upper) Resident Welfare Society, Sector 38 (West), said the process of occupying the open lands was going on from past nearly a week. “These people largely come during night. We have given representations to the Governor and other officers to this regard and await some remedy”.

Mr Sunil Kumar, a resident of the area, said that “thefts of manholes was a very common problem in the area. Since there was nothing to man the entry to the sector, any untoward accident could occur”.



Encroachments resurface in Sector 21
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 1
Encroachments have resurfaced in Sector 21. At least 12 scooter mechanics who were uprooted as part of the anti-encroachment drive have returned.

The issue was highlighted at a press conference of the Federation of Sector Welfare Associations here yesterday. Mr P.C.Sanghi, chairman, said that “instead of keeping their tools on the pavements these people have kept their tools in the shops”.

Mr Sanghi said that the mechanics who were uprooted from the market earlier have threatened that in case these encroachers were not removed even they will return to their old places.

The federation also highlighted the unhygienic conditions at the meat market in Sector 21.



Cancer patient needs help
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 1
Fifty-year-old Vinay Kumar struggles for survival at the Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), Sector 32. He is diagnosed with urinary bladder cancer. His meager income has dried up after the ailment struck him.

A resident of Sector 30 here, Kumar has to support a family of four apart from generating resources for his treatment, which doctors at the hospital say would cost him more than Rs 50,000.

“My father had a small time job with a local shop here, but after the disease even that source of income is gone. He is on the ventilator now and the doctor says the surgery should be performed at the earliest to save his life. We have already spent more than Rs one lakh on the treatment and arranging more money has become a big task for the family. His chances of survival solely depend on the finances now,” says Kumar’s daughter.

Persons willing to contribute towards the treatment of Vinay Kumar can contact the family, which is by his bedside in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) Block C, bed No 5 in the hospital.



Eco Notes
Exotic weed preys on Sukhna flora
Vishal Gulati

Like lantana camara, ageratum conyzoides, another invasive exotic weed, has spread its tentacles in open areas of City Beautiful, resulting in the fast decline of native flora and the dependent fauna.

A native of tropical regions of South and Central America, ageratum has depleted a large quantity of flora of native species in the catchment areas of the Sukhna Lake.

Ageratum is also known as billy goat weed or neela phulnu. It is a weed of arable land found mostly in cultivated areas, grasslands and pastures, thus interfering with the growth of crops, grasses and forages.

These days, the Sukhna sanctuary is blossoming with clusters of small blue/violet fluffy flowers. Though they attract one’s eyes, they are a threat to some of the indigenous plant species. Being a hardy species, it lacks predators like insects and grazers. Therefore, it grows faster in comparison to the indigenous plant species.

“In Chandigarh, a number of exotic weeds have been reported. But some weeds like parthenium, lantana and ageratum have caused adverse ecological impact. Though these weeds can be seen growing in different landscapes, but these are luxuriantly localised in unattended land and cultivated areas,” says Prof R.K. Kohli of the Centre for Environment and Vocational Studies, Panjab University, Chandigarh.

“Like other weeds, ageratum has a fast growth rate, rapid life cycle, greater reproduction potential apart from a high competitive ability that makes it a successful invader of the native habitat,” says Professor Kohli.

About its thick growth in the Sukhna forest area, the botanist says the species is a prolific seed producer. Its seeds are lighter in weight and smaller in size and thus can be easily disseminated. It generally grows along the water channels and other areas with adequate soil humidity. In the cropped area it affects the crop yield.

Besides being a rapid coloniser, the weed is also known to cause a number of health problems like skin allergy, rhinitis and irritation to the eyes.

To stop ageratum growing along choe banks, Professor Kohli says manual removal is better than chemical and biological methods.



Official rigmarole suffocates open-air theatre
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 1
In spite of offering better infrastructure than the neighbouring Chandigarh for hosting cultural events, and at competitive rates — Panchkula has failed to emerge as an alternate cultural destination to Chandigarh.

The township has an open air theatre with the seating capacity of 1,000 — much beyond the capacity of Tagore Theatre or any of the open air theatres in Chandigarh at Panjab University, Bal Bhavan, Punjab Kala Bhavan or Rock Garden. While Tagore Theatre has a seating capacity of 600, the open air theatres have capacities varying from 100 to 150.

In terms of infrastructure, open air theatre, Yavanika, offers a relatively better light and sound system than most of the above mentioned places in Chandigarh. Even the rates offered by the Panchkula Administration for renting out the Yavanika Open Air Theatre are almost similar to those at the open air theatres in Chandigarh and much less than those at Tagore Theatre.

Organisers have to pay Rs 1500 per show, alongwith a refundable security of Rs 2000, while the rent for Tagore Theatre varies from Rs 7000 to Rs 12000.

In spite of this there are no takers for Yavanika Open Air Theatre. Last year, the theatre was rented out just eight times (five times it was used for government functions only).

During the first four months of the current year the open air theatre has been rented out only thrice (including once for the HUDA-sponsored Spring Festival).

As of now, there is no reservation for the theatre in the future.

Officials agree that long and tardy procedural formalities in getting the open air theatre booked for functions puts off the organisers of cultural events.

Often, it takes four to five weeks in getting the booking done and organisers have to seek permissions at eight levels before the reservations are made finally. “After checking the availability with the watchman at Yavanika, one has to approach the Estate Officer and then the Deputy Commissioner, who asks the Tehsildar and Patwari to report.

On the other hand, one has to get permission from the Deputy Superintendent of Police and the area Station House Officer.

After getting reports from all these officials, these reports have to be submitted to Deputy Commissioner, who then grants approval,” informs an office-bearer of a cultural organisation.

No wonder that even Panchkula-based cultural organisations and schools which do not have auditoriums of their own, prefer to organise functions in Chandigarh.

Meanwhile, Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) is working to complete work on the indoor auditorium in Sector 5.

The cost of this fully air-conditioned auditorium is estimated at Rs 14 crore and it will have a seating capacity of over 1,000.

A convention hall and a library are also being constructed on the premises. The auditorium is expected to be completed by the end of the year. But one wonders if the administration will be able to overcome the reservation hurdles and ensure adequate use of this auditorium.



Water Resources Day celebrated
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 1
Water Resources Day was celebrated at Government High School, Dadu Majra, here today. The function was presided over by Mr P.J.S. Dadhwal, Additional Director, Environment Department. The children presented a cultural programme on the conservation of water resources.

The chief guest distributed prizes to winners of poster and slogan-writing competition and also appreciated the slogans and placards prepared for the rally. The theme of all these events was “Save water today for better tomorrow”.

Resource persons, Mr A.K. Bhatia and Mr C.P. Srivastava from the Central Ground Water Board, delivered talks on the importance and conservation of water resources. Mr Srivastava asked the children to use minimum water for daily needs of life.

Celebrated: Students of Shishu Niketan Public School, Sector 21, celebrated Spiderman’s birthday party on their school premises, here today. Two students came dressed as Spiderman to the birthday party.



Good response to Estate Office website claimed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 1
The Estate Office website www.sampada.in has attracted response from 1500 people since it was launched couple of days back.

The site by the next week will have complete details of encroachments, periphery control act violations and details of land acquisition. This addition in the site has been made on the advice of Administrator General S.F. Rodrigues.

The Estate Office has invited suggestions from the people to improve the website. Suggestions could be forwarded on Deputy Commissioner’s telephone number 2709000 or his fax number 2704548. 



Low water pressure worries residents
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 1
With the mercury rising each day, residents continue to suffer because of low water pressure in most sectors. Most of the two-storey and three-storey houses here are not getting proper water supply on the first and second floor.

The residents are up in arms against the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) for failing to ensure a consistent water supply on the first and second floor of houses. The problem is more severe in multi-storey flats in Sector 14 and Mansa Devi Complex. They say that if HUDA had approved the building plans of multi-storey houses, it should ensure that there was adequate water supply.

Mr V.K. Kapoor, Councillor from Sector 17, today said that the government should take adequate steps to improve water supply. “I have complained to HUDA officials about the low water pressure, but there is no improvement in water supply,” he says.

Mrs Amol Gupta, a resident of Sector 9, said whenever they complain to the authorities, they are told that water supply pipeline had burst at several places, which caused dust and other effluents to enter the pipeline and affect the water supply.



Decline in values decried
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, May 1
Discussions were held on ‘Art and Spirituality’ at zonal headquarter, Rajyoga Bhawan, Sector-33 today. Artists from the city including Pandit Yashpal, Director Sunil Babbar, Principal Chandigarh College, Dr S.S. Bhatti participated.

Brahma Kumari Sister Anita, In charage Rajyoga Centre, Sector 15 said, “There is downfall in values of our society. At this time artists can bring changes in the society through their art. They can spread the message of spirituality also”.



Search Within
Greed and corruption

A retired Lieutenant-Colonel demanding a bribe of Rs 40,000 for releasing a cheque of Rs 2 lakh to the family of a Kargil martyr is the latest in the series of scandals since the Tehelka expose to hit the newspaper columns. This all-pervasive corruption is disgusting and brings shame to the nation. "Corruption is all about greed," stated a speaker addressing a conclave on corruption in Delhi recently. When will man's greed come to a halt?

Corruption thrives best under secrecy. Hence the importance of transparency in all public dealings. A national convention on transparency and accountability in public governance was held in New Delhi in the second week of this month to take a look at public governance in the light of a series of lectures delivered by distinguished professionals in this connection in 2004. The underlying theme of the conclave, organised by the Initiatives of Change, was 'transparency and accountability in public governance.'

The speakers included Mr Ved Marwah, former Governor of Jharkhand, Dr Yogendra Narain, secretary-general of the Rajya Sabha, Justice JS Verma, former Chief Justice,, Sudarshan Agarwal, Governor of Uttaranchal, and Mr Jagmohan, former Union Minister.

The suggestions at the meet made by distinguished experts were radical. But who will bell the cat? Among the suggestions read out by Mr Prabhat Kumar, former Cabinet Secretary, were nationalisation of all Swiss bank accounts held by Indian nationals This will generate thousands of crores which could be used for the benefit of the poor.

Another one was simplification of all rules and regulations in every ministry at the Centre and states within an year. Severe penalty is to be proposed against those who violate these rules. For instance imprison tax evaders. Another proposal was to enact legislation to protect whistle--lowers. Provision should be made in law to reward them suitably.

Law regarding forfeiture of properties relatable to corrupt practices should be put on the statute book without delay. Use of computers in government offices should be the rule rather than the exception. Manual processing of public services leaves room for malpractices.

Initiatives of Change is an informal international network of people (formerly known as Moral Re-armament) of all faiths and backgrounds working to change the world by first seeking change in their own lives.

At the core of every scandal, it was pointed out, is some one expecting gratification for breaking faith or breaking law And corruption is all about greed, one of the human emotions, very difficult to restrain.

"Corruption," said Prabhat Kumar, former Cabinet Secretary, "is like computer virus. When it starts it is invisible and small. But like virus it puts everything at risk. It becomes a monster beyond human management."

What are some of the features of the present day fight against this evil? There is stubborn resistance on the part of political parties, to accept the principle of transparency in the matter of funding and spending from party coffers. There was need for accountability and proper auditing .

The roles of the political executive and civil services were important. The fusion of the two is fraught with grave consequences. The perpetuation of the privileges and powers of the civil services was an act of profound faith in the time of independence. Their continuation in the face of non-performance, incompetence, corruption and acts of outright criminality is possibly the most profound betrayal of the ideals of our Republic, he added.

A survey report of the Transparency International based on the level of corruption in several countries released a couple of months ago makes depressing reading.

India is ranked fairly low at serial no 90. Public perception in India shows that Indian politics and political parties are the most corrupt followed closely by the police and the judiciary perceived to be pretty corrupt.

The citizens front had not achieved solidarity in standing up against the corrupt. "In any country where talent and virtue produce no advancement, money will be the national god. Its inhabitants will either have to possess money or make others believe that they do. Wealth will be the highest virtue, poverty the greatest vice.," wrote Denis Diderot, French philosopher (1713-1784) This is so true of most developing nations, particularly India, which is growing materialistic with each passing day. Even those citizens who find that they can not check corruption jump into the band wagon to profit thereby.

Delhi's Right to Information Act generated lot of interest as a significant step in ensuring transparency in the working of government department, A representative of Parivartan narrated how ordinary members of the public were able to bring to expose corrupt ration shop owners by a proper tallying of records of ration shops and government departments.

A public spirited organization has coined these one-liners on corruption: "Corruption hurts all, especially the weak; the fight against corruption begins at home by everyone refusing its tainted benefits; cynics who think that corruption cannot be reduced are cowards who do not wish to try." — MPK Kutty



2 held for snatching chains
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 1
A chain snatcher, Khem Karan (25), who had earlier been nabbed in December, was today arrested once again for allegedly being involved in several incidents of snatching and vehicle thefts after his release from jail.

He was arrested along with his 18-year-old accomplice, Nitin, from near the Sector 42 stadium when both of them were going on a stolen vehicle. According to the police they had allegedly snatched a purse from a woman in Sector 38 yesterday. Khem Karan and Nitin are both drug addicts.

A couple of days ago they had snatched a purse from another woman near the Sector 42 gurdwara. Both the purses have been recovered by the police from the snatchers.

According to the police, on March 11 the two had snatched a purse containing two mobile phones and a watch from a woman.

The police claimed that they had also stolen a scooter in April last year from near the A. K. Vidya Mandir School in Sector 36. This scooter has also been recovered from them.

Khem Karan was also involved in three other chain and purse snatching incidents in Phase IX, Mohali, during the past 45 days. According to the police, Khem Karan had attempted to snatch a purse from a woman in Phase IX, Mohali. Before becoming a drug addict Khem Karan was a lab assistant in Maloya. His wife is employed with a hospital in Mohali.

Nitin said it was the first time that he had been involved in snatching. Nitin said he had met Khem Karan through a common contact. He said they had smeared the number plate of the scooter with mud before venturing out to snatch chains.



Man tries to immolate self, hospitalised
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 1
A man immolated himself when he was in an inebriated condition, and also tried to pull in his eight year old daughter with him. Both of them are seriously injured and recuperating in the hospital.

The incident took place late last night, when Relu Ram (30) came home in Rajiv Colony in an inebriated condition. The police says that he physically abused his wife, and when she went out, he poured kerosene over himself and set himself on fire.

After he set himself on fire, he saw his daughter, Rajni, and pulled her in his arms- in the process also injuring her. The girl screamed for help and hearing her screams, her mother and other came and doused the flames. The police was called in and they took the victim to the hospital. Relu Ram is recuperating in the PGI, Chandigarh, with 80 per cent burns, his daughter suffered burn injuries on back.

In another case, Sohan Lal of Indira Colony received 25 per cent burns when the stove he was cooking food on burst.

Death:- Gaurav (19) was killed by a train near Mubarikpur today. He was a resident of Sector 14 here. The police says that it could be a case of suicide and have initiated inquest proceedings.

One dead:- Chotte Lal (35) who along with six other family members received serious burns in a LPG cylinder burst at Haripur village on April 20, died at the PGI today. Other than his daughter, Anjali, all other members of the family, including sons Ashish and Raman, wife Kanti Devi, and a relative Lakhsmi, have died at the PGI.



Pugmarks launches RedAlkemi
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 1
Chandigarh-based Pugmarks Design and its sister concern SEO Rank, India's foremost online solution company, today launched RedAlkemi, a brand that will consolidate and synergise services of the two online properties.

The company, which has set the goal of bringing Chandigarh on the world IT map, will also focus on getting a higher share of the global search engine marketing (SEM) space and the web services market.

Mr Atul Gupta, CEO of Pugmark Design, said in an interview that `` RedAlkemi will offer a wide range of services as integrated solutions or stand-alone services, including website design, e-commerce development, software development, graphic design, search engine optimisation, link building, pay-per-click management and web visibility services.

Mr Gupta stated "With RedAlkemi, we will be reducing duplication of tasks and also be able to offer our customers the benefits of cross-selling, up-selling and bundling integrated services.

Through RedAlkemi, the company is now looking at getting an increased share in the global search engine marketing (SEM) market that is projected at $ 7 billion for 2005 and web services market projected at $ 15 billion. It has 25 associate partners in the USA, UK, Europe and Australia, with almost 80 per cent business in the USA, he added.

The company also plans to set up its own facility at Mohali or IT Park Chandigarh to further consolidate its base in Chandigarh. The city has lot of potential in terms of infrastructure for IT companies, he added.


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