C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Farmers, contractor clash at Apni Mandi; five hurt
Tribune News Service

Mohali, May 29
Five persons were injured in a clash between farmers and the contractor of the Kharar Market Committee and his men at the Phase VIII Apni Mandi here this morning. The contractors, on one hand, alleged that the farmers were not paying the due tax to the market committee, the farmers, on the other hand alleged that the market committee contractor was not authorised to collect tax from them.

Residents of the township, who throng this weekly mandi to buy fruits and vegetables, were shocked to witness the contractor’s men beating up some of the farmers who had come to the mandi to sell their produce. Reacting to the beating, the farmers pelted the contractor and his men with stones. But the age groups persons used lathis to attack each other. The situation was later brought under controlled by the police.

While three farmers, Ajaib Singh, Balkar Singh, and Ranjit Singh, were injured and rushed to a hospital, two of the contractor’s men also received severe injuries.

The police said the Kharar Market Committee contractor Harpal Singh said that his men were collecting tax from vegetable and fruit sellers who came from outside Punjab to sell their produce. However, the farmers, claimed that they were registered with the Punjab Mandi Board and did not have to pay the tax to the market committee. They added that they were unable to show their Punjab Mandi Board identity cards since the Board had not issued them despite repeated requests.

Harpal Singh reportedly told the farmers that in the absence of identity cards his men had no way of knowing if the farmers were telling the truth. The matter was finally resolved and it was decided that the farmers would give a list of Apni Mandi farmers to the contractor from whom he would not collect tax. This would continue till the Mandi Board issues identity cards to the farmers.



Jewellery, cash worth Rs 17 lakh stolen
Our Correspondent

Panchkula, May 29
Thieves stuck at a house in Sector 21 and decamped with cash and jewellery worth lakhs of rupees last night.

The thieves entered the house of Mr S.K. Sharma after scaling the boundary wall in the backyard.

After breaking a window of the house the thieves entered the room. They ransacked the entire house and took away jewellery and cash worth Rs 17 lakh.

The house owner, along with his family, left the house at about 7 pm to attend a marriage in Patiala. When they reached home at about 12 midnight, the family was shocked when found the house ransacked and cash and jewellery missing from the almirah.

Mr Sharma, who is an industrialist, informed the police but the police reached the spot this morning and registered a case.

Following the alleged negligent behaviour of the Panchkula police, a delegation of the Residents Welfare Association met the Deputy Commissioner and gave him a representation.

Being the third burglary in the locality in the past 15 days, panic has gripped the area. The residents complained that the police had turned a blind eye towards the criminal active the city for the past over two months.



Digging of park sparks protest
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 29
Residents of Sector 20 took to the streets in protest against the digging of a park for construction of a school building here today. The site was allotted by the UT Administration two years back for extension of Giandeep Primary School.

Over 100 residents took part in the protest this afternoon.

“Our children have no other place to play. The site was used for organising family functions. The coming up of a school here will make the area more accident prone,” a senior resident of the sector said.

Mr H.S. Lucky, a councillor, led the demonstration against the digging of the site. “I am the area councillor and had got funds allocated for improvement in the park. Now I discover that the park is being dug. Initially, I thought it was being done for erection of the railing.”

Mr Arvind Kumar, a local resident, said: “I have grown up in the area and the park was a place for family gatherings in the evening. The city is losing important green belts in the name of development. It is destroying the character of the city.”

Ms S. Deswal, Principal of Giandeep School, said: “The protest meant nothing. We are doing nothing illegal. The site was allotted to us by the administration about two years ago. There is a time limit to carry out construction activity and we are just following the schedule.”



Panchkula to remain without power today
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 29
Residents will have to sweat it out tomorrow, as power supply to most parts of the township will remain suspended during the day. With the Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam all set to replace the 11 KV bulk oil circuit breaker with vacuum circuit breaker in order to minimise faults at power substations, the residents will have to stay without power.

Power supply to Sectors 10, 12-A, 14, 15, 20, BEL factory and Industrial Area Phase I will remain suspended from 9 am to 12 noon. Residents of Sectors 11, 14, 16, 17, 19m, Industrial Area I and II, Abheypur, Budanpur, Rajiv Colony, Indra Colony and Paper Mount Industry will have to do without power from 9 am to 5 pm.

Officials say that the power supply could affect the water supply. They assure that the power cut is due to technical reasons and that there is no shortage. 



UT refuses to cancel Law Institute land allotment
Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 29
Despite clear-cut directions, the UT Administration has not implemented the order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court regarding the land allotted at throwaway prices to Chandigarh Law Institute Private Limited.

The two-month period given to the UT Administrator for taking "necessary corrective steps" lapsed on April 14. Also, no action has been initiated against any officer for having willfully caused loss of crores of rupees to the exchequer.

The court had expressed "full faith and trust in His Excellency the Governor of Punjab-cum-UT Administrator, Chandigarh Administration" to find out who were the persons responsible for the apparent acts of commission. It was, however, left to the Administrator's discretion if the persons responsible for the apparent acts of commission needed to be dealt with through disciplinary proceedings or even launching of prosecution.

In its judgement dated February 14, the Division Bench comprising the then Chief Justice, Mr Justice B.K. Roy, and Mr Justice Surya Kant had given two months' time to the UT Administrator "to take necessary corrective steps". Writing for the Bench, Mr Justice Surya Kant had also directed that these corrective steps must be in consonance with Article 14 of the Constitution.

Two other directions issued by the Bench were that the UT Administration would take a policy decision for allotment of available institutional sites to ensure that allotments are made objectively and in a transparent manner and that the site whose allotment was challenged could thereafter be allotted by inviting applications through proper notice.

However, highly placed sources said status quo persisted in the matter of land given to the company in Sector 38-A.

In a communiqué addressed to the Chief Justice during the pendency of the PIL filed by Mr Neeraj Sharma challenging the allotment, Gen Rodrigues had said that after going through the record of allotment he had come to the conclusion that under the present circumstances, there were two options open to the Administration. These options, he said, were to either cancel the allotment or let the allotment stay but charge enhanced market rate from the allottee.

He had also sent the matter to Attorney General (AG) Milon Banerjee for legal opinion. But, UT officials are mum about the opinion, if any, given by the AG.

In a scathing indictment of the UT Administration, the court had termed the allotment of the land to Chandigarh Law Institute Private Limited as arbitrary, unjust, clandestine and illegal and opposed to Article 14 of the Constitution.

The Directors of the company include two sons of a sitting Judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Dr. V.K. Bansal, former Chairman of the Department of Laws of Panjab University and advocate Shailendra Jain, who is Central Government standing counsel for UT.

Ironically, Mr Jain still continues to handle cases for the UT.

As for the officers, who could have faced heat for the patently illegal allotment, most have already left the UT for their parent cadres. Estate Officer-cum-DC Arun Kumar is still part of the UT Administration. But, he is also trying to get relived as early as possible as his replacement has already been announced.

A UT officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, claimed since the UT had filed applications in the High Court, no action had been initiated.

However, legal experts, who have gone through the judgement, say since no stay was ever granted, the UT was bound to implement the judgement.

Incidentally, the UT Administration and the company have filed similar applications, seeking rehearing of the case by a third judge due to difference of opinion in the judgements of Chief Justice Roy and Mr Justice Surya Kant. But, these applications have still to come up before any Bench.

"We were expecting speedy action by the Administrator. This delay is a matter of concern, more so because of his stand that corrective steps needed to be taken. But, we don't know what is holding them back," observed Advocate Ajay Kaushik, who represented the petitioner in the PIL.



Congress grass everywhere in Panchkula
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 29
The pre-monsoon showers this month had a fallout on the health of denizens of the township. The showers have allowed the unabashed growth of congress grass in most parts of the township, leading to skin ailments and triggering asthma and other respiratory diseases.

The tall claims made by officials of Haryana Urban Development Authority notwithstanding, parthenium or congress grass weed seem to have spread in every nook and corner of the township. The weed is growing freely along the road berms, in vacant plots and parks. Even the gardens in Sector 5 are not spared of this weed.

Mr Tilak Kataria, a resident of Sector 20, says that congress grass was growing along the Zirakpur-Panchkula National Highway, the government dispensary, in the grain market, near the government school and the group housing society buildings.

“Since my wife, Ms Anjala Kataria is the local councillor, people come and complain to us everyday about the health problems they are facing because of the parthenium weed. Though we have made repeated complaints to Horticulture Department and municipal council, no action has yet been taken to clear the weed,” he alleges.

Mr Amrik Singh, an ex-serviceman and resident of Sector 12, says that though the weed was growing, no one had cut the weed since last year. “I had no problem of asthma, but with parthenium growing in the adjacent vacant plot, I suffer from wheezing in the mornings and evenings. Repeated complaints to the HUDA officials to clear the weed have fallen on deaf ears,” he says.

Dr Pradeep Bhardwaj, who specialises in allergy treatment, says that he gets 30-40 patients a day, complaining of various allergies. “Of these 20 allergy cases a day are those caused by parthenium. The only prevention from congress grass related allergy is to remove the weed before it flowers, because even pollens cause respiratory problems,” he says.

The Superintending Engineer, Horticulture, Mr Jogi Ram, when contacted, said that Horticulture wing and even Engineering wing of HUDA had been involved in physically clearing the weed. “We had cleared the weed in April, but the rains earlier this month again brought back the weed. We have again engaged our workers to clear the weed,” he assured.



Welcome to Sector 48 jungle !
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 29
Reeling under the omnipresent Congress grass, the comparatively new residential quarters of the city in Sector 48 and adjoining areas are crying for attention with regard to upkeep of their surroundings.

The entire belt has housing societies, a number of which are still under construction. Congress grass grows rampantly in the entire area.

Mr Jagat Singh, a resident, said “the grass is not merely an eye sore. The grass is also medically unhealthy as research has proven”.

Mr Sunil Sharma, another resident, said that besides Congress grass the locality also has loads of household waste piled at various places on the roadside. Polyethene bags can also been seen scattered all over the area.

Another problem is the poor condition of a number of roads. Pools of water can be seen at various places and the potholes which are a problem for the vehicular traffic.

“Not all roads in the area are broken yet a sizeable number of patches need urgent repair,” a resident said.

Mr R.L. Sharma, an allottee of a flat in a housing society, said, ‘While a sizeable portion of the residential area is still under construction, a number of encroachments have already cropped up in the area which was an unfortunate development.”

Residents are complaining that the Motor Market in the area was a growing eyesore. With the new allottees shifting to the societies, the number of vehicles coming here has increased.

The market area has expanded massively touching the area of the housing societies.



Providing adolescent healthcare to slum children
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Adolescents play carrom and read books at the Yuva Josh Adolescent Health Centre at a slum in Panchkula.
Adolescents play carrom and read books at the Yuva Josh Adolescent Health Centre at a slum in Panchkula. — Tribune photo by Pankaj Sharma.

Panchkula, May 29
Channelling raw youth power in the right direction. For the first time in this region, an NGO has stepped in to offer adolescent healthcare to over 1500 children from Rajiv Colony and Indra Colony. The NGO is helping these children deal with substance abuse, drug abuse, behavioural problems, incest; promiscuity; and then rehabiliating them.

Started in August last year by the Piya Sharma Charitable Trust, Yuva Josh- the Adolescent Health Centre is providing physical and mental healthcare to slum children. Though the concept of adolescent healthcare has found its roots in public schools, it is for the first time that initiative has been taken to extend this service to adolescents in slum areas.

No wonder, in nine months since this centre was established, they have managed to wean away many youth from drug and substance abuse, and create a movement against drug menace.

Manish (name changed), 17, who was a juvenile delinquent involved in every other street fight in his colony since the age of 12, was one of the first adolescents to enrol with the centre. A few months of counselling and holistic healing at the centre, and he is a transformed person. He is now a peer leader and encourages other boys his age — some alcoholics, marijuana and poppy husk addicts, to enrol with the centre, besides engaging his peer members in recreational activities like sports. Three of the boys (all school drop outs) enrolled with the centre- Manjit, Manish and Sunny -are doing exceedingly well for cricket and have been recommended for the Panchkula district cricket team.

Ms Pooja S Passi, Project Director, informs that the trust has been running a school for these slum children for the past couple of years. “While teaching these children, we found large instances of substance abuse in children as young as eight to 10 years. Cigarette and tobacco addiction is very common in boys. Young girls would show behavioural problems after they had been sexually assaulted by male family members or neighbours, and their inability to understand body changes after puberty. Aggression and other behavioural problems in these children, including suicidal tendencies; their leanings towards petty crimes; and, alcohol addiction in children as young as 15 years, was rampant. We thus decided to set up an adolescent health centre here,” she explains.

Though the recreational facilities like games and reading material etc are available at the Centre almost every day, counselling and holistic healing (meditation and reiki) sessions are organised at Rajiv Colony on Wednesday, Indra Colony on Thursday and at Sector 6, Panchkula office of Piya Sharma Charitable Trust on every Saturday. Doctors from Government Medical College and Hospital, Chandigarh, are helping with de-addiction programmes, while Dr Shalini Dadwal is the counsellor engaged for dealing with the sexual, physical and mental problems of the children. Since many children shy away from asking questions directly, letter boxes have been installed at various points in the slum areas, and the adolescvents simply write down their problems and put these in the box. The counsellor then gives individual time to these youngsters to discus and sort out the problem.

A reiki master, Ms Usha Bhansali, not only teaches these children to meditate, but channel their energy into art, by teaching them painting. Special ‘anger workshops” are organised for the adolescents to teach them how to control their anger. Blood testing camps and nutrition camps are organised regularly to assess the nutritional requirements among these adolescents and diet patterns based on their economic conditions are prepared. As 14 year old Manju of Indra Colony puts it, “ There are many things you cannot discus with your parents; and friends are as ignorant about these. It is here that the Yuva Josh has managed to make a difference for hundreds of youngsters like me”.



‘Power’ couple making things better for Kalka residents
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 29
For the past 18 years, this “power” couple from Kalka has been involved in social welfare. Having accepted politics as their calling, Mr S.S. Nanda and Ms Mohini Nanda say that their aim is to work for the betterment of Kalka.

While Mr Nanda is a three-time Municipal Committee Councillor, Ms Nanda has won at the hustings for the local body five times , and has twice been elected president of the Kalka Municipal Committee.

Last week, Ms Nanda was elected president of the committee for the second time.

Mr Nanda is a former Railways official. Being an active leader in the Railways union, he says that politics was a natural calling. “I wanted to make a difference and fight for the cause of the people. But since I was still an employee, I asked my wife to jump in the fray in 1987,” he says.

Since then there has been no looking back for the Nandas’. Mr Nanda took voluntary retirement in 1994 and contested the local body election for the first time the same year.

In Kalka, the couple have carved a niche not just for their role in politics, but also for their social activities. They are actively involved in various social causes like educating girl child and social equality.

Now that the couple are elected representatives in the MC, they say to ensure better street lighting and sanitation facilities in the town top their agenda. “We are taking up the matter of power shortage, which affects water supply, with the government.

The fiscal health of the committee, which is one of the oldest local bodies in the state, is also bad. We are now demanding a one-time waiver for power dues of Rs 18 lakh with an annual interest rate of Rs 32,000; and grant for clearing the outstanding dues of Rs 10 lakh to civil works contractors; and towards pensionary benefits of employees,” says Ms Nanda.

She says that she is now examining options available for increasing the revenues of the committee.



Demolitions: Bansal’s effigy burnt
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 29
Activists of the Tenement Cell of the local unit of the Bhartiya Janata Party today organised a dharna in front of the residence of Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, the local Member of Parliament, for his “casual” approach towards the problems of the poor, particularly Mani Majra residents who face demolitions in their housing structures.

The effigy of the MP was burnt to register protest against his “inaction in listening to the residents of Mani Majra who have been served notices against encroachments in their housing structures”. Mr Satya Pal Jain, a former Member of Parliament of the BJP, came down heavily of the Congress MP for failing to redress grievances of the poor.

Tight police arrangements greeted the rally when nearly 200 activists reached the residence of Mr Bansal. The protest was also registered against the UT Administration and the municipal corporation. The immediate provocation is the notice against encroachments to the residents of Mani Majra.

Mr Anil Dubey, convenor of the Tenement Cell, said that “the residential quarters in Mani Majra face demolition. Instead of listening to the problems regarding the water and the electricity supply, the administration seemed to be bent on increasing their grief by destroying their houses”.

He said that scores of tenements had been resumed in the area and others have been served notices for alterations in their houses. He said that the Congress MP had failed to listen to the genuine grievances of the people.

The rally was also addressed by Mr Bal Krishan Kapoor, general secretary and Mr Kewal Krishan Adiwal, a former Mayor.



Clarion call to stem human trafficking
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 29
A North India network of civil society organisations, NGO’s and government departments will now become active in Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and Delhi to combat human trafficking.

This consensus evolved from the two-day ‘Regional Consultation on Partnerships to Combat Cross Border Trafficking in Human Beings and Sex Tourism’ that concluded here on Thursday.

This consultation was organised by a Faridabad-based NGO, Shakti Vahini, in association with the Department of Women and Child, Government of India, and United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).

Representatives of almost 60 NGO’s from the above-mentioned states, police officials, Social Welfare Department officials and mediapersons, who participated in the consultation, felt that regular interactions and creating a network of NGO’s in various cities would help in combating trafficking.

Human trafficking, especially trafficking of women as sex workers and “mail-order brides”, to the Northern region, has increased manifold and a joint action by all members of the civil society was needed.

It was felt that regular consultation with the government and lobbying with political representatives was a must.

Mr Ravi Kant, executive director, Shakti Vahini, said proper implementation of the Juvenile Justice Act on part of the governments was required as it concerned the rights of young girls who were bought and sold in the North.

The AIG, Haryana, Mr Kuldeep Singh, said the declining sex ratio had created a rise in demand for brides and this was being met by buying women.

While welcoming NGO intervention, he said gender sensitisation of cops was also needed to deal effectively with cases of human trafficking.

The Director, Social Welfare, Punjab, Mr S.R. Ladhar, offered to give grants to NGO’s who were willing to work in stopping human trafficking.



Scheme on girl child amended
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 29
The Apni Beti Apna Dhan Scheme was recently launched by the Chandigarh Administration aiming at improving the distorted sex ratio in the Union Territory. Under the scheme, Rs 5,000 is invested in the name of the girl child in the Children Career Plan. This amount along with the interest accumulated is given to the beneficiary, when she turns 18.

The Administrator has amended the scheme by adding a clause which deals with educational qualification. Henceforth, the beneficiary girl should have appeared or passed her Class X to understand the benefit of the amount being given to her. With this amendment, it is hoped that parents will encourage their daughters to go to school and educate them at least till the tenth standard.

The scheme, which was only for girl children from Scheduled Caste families, is now being expanded to include girls from all families living below the poverty line.

The application forms for the scheme are available in all 300 Anganwari Centres in the city and are also available at the office of the Director, Social Welfare, Chandigarh Administration, Town Hall Extension Building, III floor, Sector 17-C, Chandigarh, free of cost.



Competitions planned to popularise Hindi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 29
A meeting of the Town Official Language Implementation Committee was held here today under the chairmanship of Ms S.K. Aulakh, Chief Commissioner of Income Tax.

Terming Hindi as the link language in the country, Ms Aulakh said even in the South one can communicate in the language. The credit for this goes to the electronic media and the younger generation, she added.

The meeting, which was attended by over 180 heads of the departments and officers of various government departments, decided to hold essay, drafting and computer typing competitions during the year to popularise Hindi.

Meanwhile, the General Manager of Ordnance Cable Factory was awarded the first prize in the production and training institute category. In the small government offices category, the Director of the Regional Evaluation Office bagged the first prize.

The Secretary of the BBMB got the first prize in the category of the boards and the corporations and the Director of the Labour Bureau in the big Central Government offices category.



BDPO’s office ‘shielding encroacher’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 29
Residents of Kimbwala village here have accused the office of the Block Development and Panchayat Officer (BDPO) of shielding village sarpanch Harmesh Kumar, who had reportedly encroached upon a piece of panchayat land measuring two kanal and 13 maralas.

Despite outgoing Deputy Commissioner Arun Kumar having directed the BDPO to conduct a fair inquiry into the alleged encroachment, officials of the BDPO were not acting in a fair manner, alleged Mr Ram Jit Singh, a resident of the village.

He said a secretary of the BDPO’s office was unwilling to take notice of the person who had encroached upon the land.

Harmesh Kumar, when contacted, denied that the land had been encroached upon. He said demarcation of the land had been done and it was being used to dump carcasses of dead animals.



MP takes up water issue with Mayor
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 29
The MP, Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal called upon the Mayor to discuss the problem of water supply, particularly to residents staying on the second and third floors in different parts of the city.

Mr Bansal said he met the Mayor on Friday and discussed water shortage. “I feel the city needs to hasten work on the water treatment plant which could supply water for use in lawns and other domestic purposes”, he said.

Another issue that was highlighted at the meeting was the disposal of ‘malba’. The MP said strict action needed to be taken against defaulters.



Book project for slum kids

Chandigarh, May 29
The SAS Nagar chapter of the Rotary Club yesterday announced the launch of a book project under which donated books would be distributed among slum children. The focus would be on syllabus books from Classes VIII to XII. Dr B.S. Chandok, president of the club, said the project was part of six new projects to be taken up by the new team of the club which would take charge on July 1. — TNS



3 women held for stealing purse
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 29
Three women were caught red-handed while stealing the purse of Ms Simrata Devi, a resident of Shanti Enclave in the Notified Area Committee, Mani Majra, yesterday.

According to information, the purse was stolen by the trio — Anita, Deep Mala and Neha — from a CTU bus near the Dhillon Complex in Mani Majra.

The accused have been arrested and a case has been registered against them.

Stolen: Mr Shivani Chopra, a resident of Sector 44, reported that someone has stolen her bag containing cash of Rs 500, an identity card, an ATM card and other important documents from her car(CH-03-L-9893) which had been parked on the Panjab University campus. A case has been registered.

Jeep stolen: Mr Mukesh Gupta, a resident of Sector 37, reported that his Scorpio jeep(CH-03-Q-3185) was stolen from his residence yesterday. A case has been registered

Stolen: Mr Chanan Singh, a resident of Sector 61, reported that his Bajaj scooter (CH-03-A-6657) has been stolen from near his house. A case has been registered.



Man dies in mishap
Our Correspondent

Panchkula, May 29
Mr Chandi Ram, a resident of Harmilap Nagar Colony in Bartana, Zirakpur, died when a vehicle hit his scooter in Sector 15 here last night.

According to the police, some passers by noticed him lying on the road and informed the police. He was taken to General Hospital, Sector 6, here where the doctors declared him brought dead.

The body was handed over to the family after post-mortem. The police has registered a case of rash and negligent driving against the unidentified motorist.



Admn asks IT firms to set up offices in city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 29
A team of the Chandigarh Administration has invited software companies like Google, Motorola, CISCO System, Rockwell International, Outer Bay, Air Defense, Virsa Systems, Mind M4 and Xebec Limited to the city.

The companies were briefed about the existing facilities and availability of space in the I.T. Park and proposed Technology Habitat in the city. They showed significant interest in setting up their branch offices in the region. One of the companies is already negotiating with the DLF for setting up a branch office of their company. Virsa Systems and Mind M4 Limited also confirmed their plans for investing in the Chandigarh Technology Park during this meeting, said a spokesperson of the Administration. The Secretary Information Technology, Mr S.K. Sandhu, and the Director IT, Mr Vivek Atray, had gone to Los Angeles to attend the annual TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs) Conference, 2005, at Santa Clara, Silicon Valley, USA from May 12 to 14. This year the theme of the conference was “Energizing the Global Entrepreneurial Spirit”.


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