C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Mercury hits a scorching 44.5°C
Gayatri Rajwade
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 20
The mercury hits a scorching 44.5°C, a whopping 5°C above normal in the city today. It was 2°C removed from the city’s highest ever maximum temperature recorded on May 28, 1988, at 46.5°C. Last year, May 17 witnessed a similar blazer of a day at 44.4°C.

The minimum temperature recorded is also 3°C above normal at 29°C.

The heat wave seems set for a top score run with not a cloud in sight and the forecast indicates another sweltering day with the temperature expecting to rise up to the 45°C mark.

The one speciality of the Chandigarh weather has been a bout of rain to cool the frayed, sun-beaten nerves down every time the temperature starts to soar, but this year, the rain gods have by and large ignored the city.

The heat wave has gripped not only Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali but the entire region with Hisar, hitting a blistering 46.2°C today. The city’s record of 48.3°C was set as far back as May 30, 1944.

The level of activity dwindled on the roads in the afternoon. The shady spots, although offering scant relief, were littered with people lying or sleeping in exhausted heaps. Scores of passers-by thronged the ‘chhabeels’ in the city and the one near Zirakpur saw almost 60 to 70 persons clamouring for the cool drink on offer. Punjab Singh, a truck driver was on to his third glass and kept up a steady string of complaints against the government and even blaming the politicians for the heat wave!

Although the rains have advanced into the country, hitting Mumbai two days ago, they still seem a while before Chandigarh will see the welcome face of the monsoons.

A look-back at the temperatures on June 20 in the past five years reveals that temperatures have drifted in the 36°C to 38°C range.

Precautions to combat heat wave

  • Wear loose comfortable clothes, preferably cotton, that cover your arms and legs
  • Carry an umbrella or a cap or cover your head with a cloth or dupatta to protect your head.
  • Drink plenty of liquids to maintain your body’s equilibrium to combat the heat.
  • Allow a cooling period when you enter an air-conditioned building from a stint in the sun.
  • Wash your face, especially your eyes, regularly through the day. Wear a sun-block if you have sensitive skin and carry dark glasses to wear in the sun, to protect your eyes.
  • Do not eat chopped fruits or vegetables lying in the open as the risk of infection is high. Food spoils easily in the heat.



Queueing up to fill tanks at old rate, last time
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 20
For many residents, it was a long wait in the scorching heat as they queued up at the five company-owned and operated petrol stations in the city, the only ones which functioned today. The remaining 35 petrol stations in the city remained closed as they adhered to the strike call given by the Chandigarh Petroleum Dealers Association.

The strike was, however, complete in the neighbouring towns of Mohali and Panchkula.

The association kept the stations closed since yesterday midnight to midnight today in response to the nationwide strike call given by the Federation of All-India Petroleum Dealers to press for an increase in the commission on sale of petrol and diesel.

The maximum rush was at the CITCO pump in Sector 9, followed by BP-21 and IBP, Sector 33. In some cases, a person had to wait for over 45 minutes for his turn to get petrol/diesel.

The hike in the rates of petrol and diesel announced today further added to these long lines as people rushed to get their tanks topped before midnight when the rates of petrol and diesel would go up by Rs 2.50 and Rs 2, respectively.

The federation is demanding an increase in the commission to 5 per cent of the sale price from the existing 1.59 per cent on petrol and 1.27 per cent on diesel. They are also demanding a common price policy for petrol and diesel.

The federation would go on an indefinite strike from July 18, if demands were not met. The President of FAIPT said the former Union Petroleum Minister had assured them that the dealers’ commission would be increased but nothing had been done for the past three or four years.

Chandigarh receives 2.5 lakh litres of petrol and 1.8 lakh litres of diesel per day. While regular supplies came from the Bathinda and Ambala depots, the dealers did not take the supply due to the strike. Punjab reported 20 per cent less than the total sales as most of the people had got the tanks of their vehicles filled during the past two days. The consumption figures for Punjab for petrol and diesel are 35 lakh litres per day and 115 lakh litres per day.



Hike in fuel prices invites brickbats
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 20
Escalation of petrol prices was expected and inevitable. Finally, after a delay of over a fortnight, the hike of Rs 2.50 for petrol and Rs 2 for diesel happened today and left city residents sore and sulking. A cross-section of the residents who spoke to Chandigarh Tribune termed it as "anti-masses".

With petrol going up from Rs 38.35 to Rs 40.85 and diesel up from Rs 26.03 to Rs 28.03 per litre (subject to change), city residents opined that driving cars and scooters was going beyond the reach of the common man. They claimed that buying cars on easy installments was no longer a boon since they would have no money to buy fuel.

The residents also remarked that it was a wrong day to make the announcement of a hike in petrol prices since all dealers were on strike. By holding on to their stock of fuel for a day, today being a closed day, they would make a fortune when sales resume tomorrow.

Says Mr Mohinder Grover, an employee of the PGI, "The price hike has made me think and re-think about driving around even in the city. I have given up driving and switched to cycling down to work. That's the only option before the working class which can ill-afford such hikes every now and then."

An advocate, Mr Rajan Kheterpal, said the hike would hit the common man and it should not have been introduced at this juncture. "It only means that the government fooled us into believing at the time of the budget that petrol prices would not be hiked. Now, why this bolt from the blue which will lead to a hike in costs of everyday items with transport costs are rising," he said.

Working with a pharmaceutical company, Mr Ajay Sharma, terms the hike in petrol prices as "harassment of the public". "The petrol prices were already very high. This increase of Rs 2.50 over and above the already prevailing price of petrol is making driving unaffordable.



Hide’n seek costs child her life
Tribune News Service

Kharar, June 20
A 5-year-old girl today died of asphyxiation when she got locked in a trunk while playing hide and seek at her house in Shingariwal village, near Mulanpur Garib Das, here.

According to police sources, Nanu was playing with her friends at her place today when she hid herself in the trunk. The trunk got bolted automatically from outside when she closed the lid. She could not open it and died of asphyxiation later.

The death came to light when her friends, unable to locate her in the house, told her mother about her disappearance. The mother began to look around for her after she was not noticed for hours. Her friends also expressed ignorance about her whereabouts.

The family members of Nanu failed to get any clue about her from anywhere in the village. It was only later, they noticed the cloth over the truck fallen aside, that invoked suspicion in their minds and to their horror, they found Nanu motionless in the trunk.

Nanu was rushed to the PGI, where she later died. The body was handed over the family members.

However, the police has initiated inquest proceedings under Section 174 of the CrPC. The police said Nanu’s father Manjit Kumar is in the Army and currently posted in Jammu and Kashmir.



Chaos at PU as B.Ed aspirants scramble for roll Nos
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 20
Chaos prevailed at Panjab University today when hundreds of students thronged the university office to get their duplicate roll number cards for B.Ed entrance test scheduled for June 22.

Worst hit were candidates belonging to Chandigarh, who complained that the original roll numbers had not reached their residences even two days before the scheduled date for the test, which made them personally come to the university to collect their roll number cards by making an additional payment.

Waiting in long queues in scorching heat for several hours, candidates alleged that the situation arose after the university failed to dispatch the roll number cards by post to candidates residing in the city.

The candidates also rued the charging of additional Rs 40 by the university to issue duplicate roll number cards when they had already affixed postal stamps worth Rs 22 on the self-addressed envelope.

However, following protests by student organisations in the afternoon, the university authorities decided not to charge the candidates for getting duplicate roll number cards.

“We have announced that no additional money would be charged for issuing duplicate cards. If a student approaches us for refund, we will return Rs 40 to him,” said an official of the examination branch.

However refuting the claims that the roll number cards were not posted to the candidates belonging to the city, Controller of Examination (CoE) Sodhi Ram put the blame on the “Postal Department’s inability to deliver the roll number cards in time to the city candidates”.

He said to ensure “smooth delivery of roll numbers” their teams had personally delivered the roll numbers to centres in Punjab but posted the roll numbers to the city candidates around a week ago.

Around 40,000 candidates are appearing in the entrance test, out of which around 5,000 candidates are from the city.

“Nobody questions the Postal Department for the delay,” said the CoE.

PU Vice-Chancellor K.N. Pathak, when contacted, said: “I am yet to verify the facts, which have caused the delay. I have asked for the documents to know when the roll numbers were dispatched.”

The university, to save blushes, has now decided to keep its offices open till late evening to issue duplicate roll numbers to the candidates. Even on the day of entrance test, if a student reaches his examination centre with a photograph and acknowledgement of submitting the examination form, he will be allowed to take the test.

Meanwhile, various student organisations came out in open to protest against the harassment of candidates due to the failure of delivery of roll number cards.

Presidents of Panjab University Students Union (PUSU) Amandeep Singh, National Students Union of India (NSUI) Nitin Goyal, Haryana Students Association (HSA) Ravinder Singh Sheokand and ABVP Yajvendra Yadav said they forced the closure of cash counters and urged the university not to charge the fee of Rs 40 to issue duplicate cards. The PU authorities have conceded to the demand of the students.

In a fresh statement issued today, the PU said if candidates have not yet received their roll numbers in all district headquarters of Punjab, including Abohar and Chandigarh, they can contact the PU office on telephone Nos. 0172-2541066 and 2534829 to know their roll number and centre of examination. The candidates can collect these from their respective centres on Tuesday (June 21).



Cops ‘misled’ to visit Hawara aide’s sister
Tribune News Service

Mohali, June 20
Showing undue alacrity in wanting to nab the various accomplices of Jagtar Singh Hawara, the Mohali police today visited the residence of Harminder Kaur, sister of Paramjit Singh Bheora, who lives in a flat in Darshan Vihar, Sector 68, here. Bheora, an accomplice of Jagtar Singh Hawara, had escaped from Burail jail last year and is wanted by the Punjab and Chandigarh police.

According to the police, they had received information from someone in the building that she along with her husband were leaving the residence. The police team led by SP (Intelligence) Paramraj Singh Umranangal along with the SHOs of Phase I and Phase VIII reached the building.

However, they found that another person near their flat was shifting his house and not Mrs Harminder Kaur. They questioned the person who was leaving his flat. He managed to prove his innocence when he informed the police that he was an employee of Dell and was shifting out of the building. He even made the police talk to his employers.

The policemen, however, decided to knock at Mrs Harminder Kaur’s house and found them at home. They questioned her and her husband about Bheora’s whereabouts. They reportedly told the police that they had nothing to do with Bheora and he never visited them.



City cops come back without Hawara
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, June 20
A team of the Operation Cell of Chandigarh Police has come back the second time without dreaded terrorist Jagtar Singh Hawara, the main accused in the Beant Singh assassination and Burail jailbreak cases, from Delhi.

A Delhi court today sent Hawara to the custody of the special cell of Delhi Police for five days. The SSP, Operation Cell of the Chandigarh Police, Mr L.S. Sandhu, told Chandigarh Tribune that a full fledged team of the Chandigarh Police equipped with all arrangements to bring Hawara to the city was sent to Delhi. However, Mr Sandhu refused to go into details of the security arrangements made by the Chandigarh Police to transport Hawara to the city.

Mr Sandhu also said Hawara will be kept in the Operation Cell of the Chandigarh Police in Sector 26 and all arrangements have been made to this regard. The Operation Cell was renovated a few days ago after Hawara was arrested by the Delhi Police.



Arrest of terror suspects: human rights body moves NHRC
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 20
The arrest of Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) militant and main accused in the Beant Singh assassination case Jagtar Singh Hawara by the Delhi police seems to have sent human rights organisations in a tizzy.

Concerned at the picking up of over 150 persons by the Punjab and the Chandigarh police for questioning in the wake of the arrest, a human rights organisation, Lawyers for Human Rights International (LHRI), today moved the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) seeking status report about their whereabouts and protection of their lives and liberties.

Claiming that these persons were “forcibly and illegally” picked up by the police, Mr Arvind Thakur, LHRI general secretary, alleged that they had been picked up for interrogation without the knowledge of their relatives and they could be “eliminated”.

In fact, several of the these persons had been picked up by an Inspector posted in Fatehgarh Sahib district who is facing trial in a murder case in the Sessions Court here.

It was alarming that the Punjab police was using a police officer who was an accused of the state for the interrogation of these persons.

The “hunt for innocent persons” comes in the wake of cremation of over 35,000 unidentified bodies in Punjab with the matter still being pending with the NHRC, the application alleged.

It may be recalled that certain relatives of accused in the Beant Singh assassination case, who were “illegally” detained by the Punjab police in the wake of Hawara’s arrest, were got released by filing habeas corpus in the Punjab and Haryana High Court and using other civil rights powers, Mr Thakur claimed.

The application urged the commission to order a high-level inquiry into the arrests in the interests of justice.



Chandigarh Calling

Hot winds that started blowing in the second week of June continue unabated and the mercury has been rising steadily. The only relief that the people have been seeking is looking at other places in the country where the temperature is a few degrees higher than that in Chandigarh. Blissful these days are the sweetened water kiosks or chhabils set up from sector to sector. These started with Gurpurb and continued through Harhi Kasti. But even with the festivals over, chhabils continue in the city or the good cause of providing cool water to thirsty souls braving it to work in this hot month that brings dehydration along.

Ice-candy man

Remember the heartrending story that Pakistani writer Bapsi Sidhwa had written with the Lahore neighbourhood ‘Ice-candy Man’ as the protagonist? Tribune photographer Karam Singh has brought this picture of the Chandigarh neighbourhood ice-candy man sleeping in the shade of his own canopy on a hot summer day. His customers who are of the children’s brigade will come out only after the sun has set to buy an ice cream or two. Such is the lot of the summer vendors who make a living by selling cool eats.

Night bazaars

The concept of night bazaars should be introduced in the city for that is the time when people have found their wits and can go about shopping. In fact air-conditioned malls are the best answer to the long summer days when one can have a day out watching a film, having a tasty meal and doing some shopping. No wonder malls are coming up in and around the city. But allowing the Janata Bazaars to remain open for an extra hour in the night would be a good idea and more so for the common folk.

Going uphill

Getting away from the heat even for a few hours seems to be a very good idea these days. The city residents have the privileged position of being situated in the Shivalik foothills and just half-an-hour and one can be at the Timber Trail point beyond Parwanoo and better still go up to Kasauli. However, some friends who came back from Kasauli after a week’s vacation felt that it was better to stay home for the days were hot in the hill town, too.

Hands down

A firm believer in the karmic cosmos of intermingling actions and reactions, ‘Healthy Handwriting’ expert Mohan Ray regards handwriting as a reflection of the inner sub-conscious of the mind. So working on this premise, Mohan Ray is advocating a new mantra for marriages no less! A chance survey conducted by Ray revealed that seven out of 10 women in the lower middle class families are in abusive situations. “There is no guarantee that your friendly neighbourhood panditji will actually match your kismet charts” states Ray. The gentle stars may go awry for no seeming possibility. So the next time you decide to match-make your best friend, daughter or acquaintance, ask for a handwriting sample instead of matching patris for if Ray is to be believed, the handwriting will reveal it all and you may just avoid that serial killer!

We shall overcome

The Government Institute for Mentally Retarded Children in Sector 32 houses a tiny kiosk in the periphery of its compound. Stocking cold drinks, chips, biscuits and tea, this stall provides succour not only to heat ridden passers-by but also provides employment for the special people in the Institute. Satish Mann joined the institute three months ago and is currently manning the stall, along with his helper Kalpu. A terrible accident resulted in an injury to his head and Satish had to take voluntary retirement from his place of work to treat his injury, the diagnosis is schizophrenia. But this compassionate man has not let the prognosis defeat his spirits. He patiently teaches Kalpu to count the change tendered by the customers. “All one needs is patience with these special children,” is his gentle assertion.

Going to the zoo

Places for romantic rendezvous in and around the city are well known what with the Sukhna Lake and so many gardens scattered all around and then there are restaurants and a few discos. Recently a young lady was taken aback when her guy suggested that they meet at the Chhatbir Zoo. “What a place to date!” was her indignant remark. Perhaps the young lady does not know that Chhatbir Zoo has always been a favoured getaway with the young ones as it is a little away from the city and there are less chances of the elders running into them there.

Parking penalty

Last week a friend took his child to this super-speciality hospital PGI and first paid a parking fee at the new OPD. Then he paid another time when he had to take his child to the new block for paediatrics. On the way back he paid some more when he stopped at a bank. He was diverted to another branch of the bank some distance away and that meant paying some more for parking. The parking penalty is getting too much with the people here and something needs to be done in earnest.


Teacher: Why are you doing your math multiplication on the floor?

Student: You told me to do it without using tables!

— Sentinel



22-yr old awaits good Samaritans
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 20
Battling for survival at the PGI, 22-year-old Harpreet Kaur eagerly awaits good Samaritans to give her a ray of hope for leading a healthy life. Diagnosed with rheumatic heart disease, Harpreet is more worried as to who will look after her four-month-old daughter if her health continues to deteriorate.

Married to a clerk in Ludhiana, Harpreet’s husband does not support her financially for the treatment. Her daily wager father, with whom Harpreet is presently staying, is willing to do anything to save his daughter’s life. But the extreme paucity of money holds him back.

“Her husband has left Harpreet with us after she was diagnosed with the disease. My own financial condition is not sound and two children are staying with me and are still studying. With a saving of just Rs 2,000 a year I find it extremely hard to arrange money for my daughter’s treatment,” says Prem Singh, Harpreet’s father.

Doctors have asked the patient to undergo mitral valve replacement, which requires around Rs 1 lakh. Willing donors can contact the family at Gurdwara Harcharankamal Sahib, Phase X, Mohali. Phone numbers: 0172-2214969, 9888179792 and 9872014525.



Monkey menace spreads to Sector 44
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 20
Monkey menace affronted residents of Sector 44 here this evening. At least 40 monkeys, were divided in different groups, scared the residents who rushed to salvage the clothes hanging on the lines.

A housewife said, “The first place where the monkeys struck were the water tanks on rooftops. They managed to open the lids of unlocked tanks and then gulp the water. A number of them made brief entries into the tanks for a bath.”

She said the monkeys tore a number of clothes hanging on the lines. Some clothes were smeared with dirt on the ground.

Mr Aditya Vashisth, a resident, said the monkeys were swarming the residential areas these days largely for water tanks due to the ongoing heat wave.

Residents called the fire station and the municipal corporation authorities for help. “No one had arrived for more than an hour since I called,” Mr Vashisth said.



MC’s ‘safai abhiyaan’ a non-starter in colonies
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 20
The much-publicised “safai abhiyaan” launched by the Municipal Corporation in various labour colonies of the city earlier this month is far from visible there. With monsoon around the corner, sanitation work in these areas is unlikely to be completed in time.

The corporation has not even drawn up any proposal to clean villages, let alone action on the ground.

Mayor Anu Chatrath and Deputy Mayor Sohan Lal Vaid are already flooded with complaints from colonies in the city. The Mayor has asked the office of the engineering branch concerned to submit a detailed report at the earliest.

A survey of different labour colonies by Chandigarh Tribune revealed heaps of garbage in the streets. Rotten foodstuff was seen littered in low-lying streets. These are sure breeding grounds for mosquitoes and flies in the rainy season, residents feel.

While official sources claimed that Maloya Colony had been cleaned as part of the drive, the ground reality indicated otherwise with garbage littered all over the colony streets. Dadu Majra colony also showed no trace of cleaning up as garbage dotted roadsides and streets.

Sohan Lal Vaid said he had visited the Mayor and discussed the complaints with her. The Mayor had assured a detailed report on the “safai abhiyaan”.

“I have been told that very sketchy work had been done in labour colonies. Bapu Dham, Colony No. 5 and certain other areas are still untouched,” he said.

He said he had received complaints about low-lying areas in Colony Nos. 4 and 5 having pools of stagnant water. He said he would personally visit these areas for an on-the-spot evaluation.

Anu Chatrath said she was aware of the problem in different colonies. “I have asked for a detailed report from officials and will take necessary action to ensure that the operation is a success.”

Councillor Kuldeep Singh Kajheri alleged that villages of the UT had been totally ignored in the sanitation drive. “The drive is nearing its conclusion and the villages have not been given their share. The corporation will not be able to run any cleanliness drive in the villages because of the coming monsoon season.”

On May 31, the Municipal Corporation had decided to carry out the cleanliness drive in colonies, as had been done in the city last month.



Tension in village over land ownership
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, June 20
Tension has gripped Gazipur Sainian village, near here, over “dispossession” of around 50 acres of agricultural land from 60 families allegedly at the behest of bureaucrats, police officials and politicians.

Up in arms, over 60 families of Saini community have been spending sleepless nights in disputed fields to protect the land, they claim they have been cultivating since 1929.

The problem aggravated this morning when certain family members of the actual landowner, late Mehma Singh, made announcement in the village regarding dispossession of the land.

Panicky villagers, including children and women, reached the fields and spent the entire day under trees to save themselves from the sun.

Equipped with earthmovers, tractors-trailers and other goods, over 250 persons, including labourers, had already assembled at a farmhouse owned by grandsons of Mehma Singh in the village.

While talking to Chandigarh Tribune, the villagers claimed that they had been cultivating the land for the past 70 years as per a written deed with Mehma Singh in 1929.

Amrik Singh, a villager, claimed that after a litigation over the ownership of the land, the villagers, as per an ordinance, made required payment of the land to the government in shape of silver coins. The villagers claimed that they were the tenants and co-tenants of the land and had possessed the land legally.

The irate villagers also alleged that Tanveer Singh, Balbir Singh, and Harcharan Singh, grandsons of Mehma Singh, Charanajit Singh, son of Harcharan Singh, and Daljit Kaur, daughter-in-law of Harcharan Singh, had been trying to “grab” the land in connivance with senior police officers, politicians and revenue officials.

They also claimed that the Financial Commissioner had issued directions not to dispossess the families.

Daljit Kaur, who is also an advocate, claimed that the villagers had no right on the land as the court had decided the case in their favour.

She said the villagers had lost the case in various courts. “We have to seek police assistance to get our own land back from the villagers, who were called just to clear the land from wild growth by our ancestors,” claimed Daljit Kaur.

When contacted, Sub Divisional Magistrate of Dera Bassi Narinder Sangha said the documents supporting the claims of Charanjit Singh and Daljit Kaur were being looked into.

The SDM claimed that the claimants had got an opinion from the Financial Commissioner (appeal) saying that the co-sharers and tenants of the land be dispossessed according to proper procedure.



When death is preferred to separation
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 20
For them, the agony of living life separately was more than the pain of death. Nothing else can explain the extreme step taken by a couple in Fatehgarh Sahib on Sunday. The two allegedly ended their lives by consuming poison after reportedly entering into a suicide pact.

Fatehgarh Sahib’s Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Varinder Kumar says such incidents of lovers ending their lives, or taking lives, are not uncommon in the state and the region.

“In this case, the victim boy was a bachelor, while the girl had married at least twice. Yet, the two in the huff of the moment decided to rest in peace together, knowing that they could not live happily ever after,” says the SSP, adding that further investigations are on in the matter.

Sources in the Chandigarh police add that a couple in the city had tried to end their lives way back in 1996. The two, after holding hands, had reportedly jumped into the Sukhna Lake together one morning as their parents were allegedly against the match.

The boy entered his watery grave almost instantly. His body, however, surfaced a few days later. The minor girl, on the other hand, was spotted by some early morning walkers and she managed to survive.

A case was registered at the Sector 3 police station here. The story, however, did not end there and then.

It reportedly led to acrimony between the two families, resulting in the death of another relative, subsequently.

Explaining the trend, socio-psychologists in the city say that unfulfilled love often leads to the adoption of such extreme measures. “When couples start getting the feeling that the entire world is against them and their relationship, and it is not possible for them to get married, they try to get united through death,” asserts a young psychology lecturer teaching in a private college in the city.

“Or else, they try to clear obstacles in their way by killing people, even close relatives. In some cases, even the parents are eliminated”.

The SSP adds: “In almost all such cases, the couple belong to different socio or economic backgrounds. As a result of which, their parents are against the match. If the bonding is strong enough and other family ties comparatively weak, they make the final exit from this world together.”



Fauji Beat
Ex-servicemen Helpline makes a mark

Never will Lieut-Gen S.S. Mehta (retd), a former Army Commander of Western Command Headquarters be forgotten by the ex-servicemen for starting the Helpline service for them. The first of its kind, this service for the welfare of ex-servicemen, their wards and defence widows was inaugurated on September 15, 2002. Seeing the good that it was doing to the ex-servicemen community in solving their pensionary and welfare problems, all the Corps in this command also started this service. Impressed by the popularity that this
service had gained among the ex-servicemen, the other Commands also started it about two years ago.

A sizeable number of ex-servicemen from the Army, the Navy and the Air Force as well as the widows come to the Western Command Helpline, which is located in the Command Hospital, Chandimandir. Its Director is Colonel Subash Chander (retd) and its telephone Nos are: 2589624 and 2867624. The Helpline can be contacted on these numbers anytime during the day or night.

In about two years time that the Helpline has been in existence, it has been able to get over 450 cases of defence personnel settled by the CDA and other authorities. These cases related to the problems of increase in pension, disability pension, platinum/demise grant, claims and Army Group Insurance Fund, etc. The benefit of arrears and monthly pensions to the defence personnel totals to Rs 2,96,85,563 and Rs 3,01,531, respectively till May, 2005.

Infantry to fore again

There was a time when the Infantry was the most sought after arm among the cadets at the Indian Military Academy (IMA). A majority of the cadets at that time chose Infantry as first option. Then came a time when the number of cadets opting for the Infantry started declining. A stage came when the Infantry fell completely out of favour and the cadets began to prefer the Army Service Corps (ASC) and the Army Ordnance Corps (AOC). This was because of the easier and more settled life in these corps.

The Infantry has nothing better to offer than an arduous life at the high altitude and in the inhospitable and difficult areas. Add to this, unsettled life with a greater risk to it, thanks to the ongoing militancy in J&K, which takes its toll almost every day.

Despite all this, a new trend has been noticed in the course, which passed out of the IMA, Dehra Dun, on June 11. Of the 953 cadets who were commissioned on this day, 191 had opted for the Infantry. This has brought this fighting arm again in the limelight once again. Will this encouraging trend continue? Only the time will tell.

AMC officers hit hard

While the implementation of the first part of Ajai Vikram Singh Committee report in December 2004 brought cheer to the officers of arms and services, it hit the Army Medical Corps (AMC) officers hard. Most of the senior Lieutenant Colonels in the AMC, have completed 26 years of service but are still waiting for their selection board to be held.

On completion of 26 years of service, an officer in the arms/services is promoted to the rank of time scale Colonel. And a Major in the arms/services is automatically promoted to the rank of Lieut-Col, which is no more a selection grade rank, on the completion of 13 years of service. “What hurts us is that we are being given a raw deal for no understandable reason. Don’t we belong to the same Army as others? Why this step-motherly treatment to us?” say these AMC officers.

The sons of some of the AMC Lieutenant Colonels are Majors in the Army. One of them says, “Perhaps, one day my son and I will both be serving in the same rank”.

Since this anomaly is adversely affecting the morale of the AMC officers, the stinging oddity in the rules should be rectified to give them a fair deal.

— Pritam Bhullar



Functioning of housing society questioned
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 20
Irked at the alleged irregularities in the Popular Cooperative House Building First Society, Sector 48-B, certain members today demanded an impartial inquiry into its functioning.

A representation, signed by at least 27 members, alleged that despite the fact that the total cost of construction had been deposited by the members, the construction work was nowhere near completion. While the construction cost of other societies, which started along with the society, was in the range of Rs 7 to Rs 9 lakh for Category “B” flats, the cost was around Rs 11 lakh in the society.

Alleging that no general body had been called by the executive committee, the members demanded that a meeting should be called to apprise the members of the progress of the project and supply the balance sheet.

In fact, Dr Geeta and Mr Mohammad Khalid, vice-president and executive member of the society, respectively, who earlier wrote to the DC about the alleged irregularities in the society, has been served a show cause notice by the president for “anti-society” activities.

Even the contractor, against whom allegations of price escalation were levelled by Dr Geeta and Mr Khalid, has also been served a legal notice by him.

The role of the contractor and a son of a senior functionary of the Chandigarh Administration, who is a project engineer, along with certain office-bearers, needed to be probed, the members demanded.



Reinstatement of PSEB staffers sought
Our Correspondent

Mohali, June 20
A gate rally was organised by employees of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) outside the Sohana subdivision office today. The protesters demanded the immediate and unconditional reinstatement of board employees who were suspended for not being present in the complaint centre by the Kharar MLA.

Mr Lakha Singh, circle president, condemned the injustice done by the management to the board employees and said the suspended employees should be reinstated immediately, failing which the joint action committee would be compelled to launch an agitation and the management would be responsible for its consequences.

The president of the Technical Services Union, Mr Gurbaksh Singh, said at the time the MLA, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, did the checking at Bhago Majra village, the employees of the complaint office had gone to the field in connection with some work and that was why the centre was locked. He said employees of the complaint office had to tend to complaints made by residents of the area. The two employees were suspended by authorities concerned without listening to their side of the story and this had caused resentment among other employees.

Meanwhile, the sarpanches of eight villages, including Bhago Majra, Gobindgarh, Manak Majra, Lakhnaur, Behrampur Mojpur, have in a letter to an administrative member of the PSEB stated that the suspension of the two power board employees and the transfer of a junior engineer was totally unjustified.

They said the PSEB was facing staff shortage and the employees were managing their work with limited resources. With the suspension and transfer of three employees, the area would face staff shortage, adding to the problems being faced by the residents. The sarpanches appealed to the authorities concerned to reinstate the suspended employees as the paddy season was going on. They said the area getting an uninterrupted power supply by and large though at times there were power cuts.

Two assistant linemen — Satish Kumar and Bhola Yadav — were suspended and a junior engineer, Harmohinder Singh, transferred by the MLA for not being present in the complaint centre when on duty.



Rs 2 cr for nutrition of women, kids sanctioned
Tribune News Service

Mohali, June 20
The Punjab government has sanctioned Rs 2.15 crore for improving nutrition among pregnant women and children up to 3 years of age who were being looked after by anganwadis in Ropar. The scheme was given a nod by the Planning Board here today.

The board meeting chaired by the Minister of School Education, Mr Harnam Das Johar, was attended by various board members along with the Deputy Commissioner Ropar, Mr H.I.S. Grewal.

The board members were informed by the programme officer that the scheme had been sanctioned by the Punjab Government and the first 25 per cent of the total amount (over Rs 53 lakh) had been received in the district. The nutrition scheme would entail providing quality food to over 12400 pregnant women and 16,900 children being looked after the anganwadis in the district.

The Planning Board members said the nutrition scheme would be implemented as part of the integrated child development scheme.



Readers Write
Open-ended career needed to make defence services attractive

Apropos article headlined ‘‘Army service unattractive’’ written by Pritam Bhullar, published in the Chandigarh Tribune (May 31, 2005) where in it was pointed out that even officers with very bright career prospects with in the Army were leaving (nay, deserting) it. Career in the defence forces will continue to be least attractive, mainly because it is a ‘‘dead end’’ career; apart from other major dissuasive factors, like the lack of prestige, perks, poor emolument (the Indian Army is the lowest paid Army in the entire world), early ‘‘forced retirement’’ (to keep a youthful profile) without any worthwhile rehabilitation (post and retirement employment), difficult service conditions and dangerous environment in which personnel serve with casualties, including fatalities, occurring almost on a daily basis, poor living conditions, disrupted and disturbed family life due to frequent postings and ‘moves’ to ‘field areas’ with truncated peace tenures, prolonged employment in Internal Security (IS) duties, even while in so called peace stations etc.

If the career in the defence services is made an ‘Open-Ended’ one, like in the Civil Services, where vast opportunities exist to better one’s career through various competitive exams after joining a particular job then all above mentioned dissuasive factors would be taken care of.

In civil street, technically, even a peon has opportunities to improve his lot and can hope to retire as a Chief Secretary by working hard, clearing various academic and Civil Services exams.

If this facility, is accorded to the defence personnel then a lot of talented young men would be motivated to join the armed forces. Though the provision exists for all government employees to appear in any competitive exam after obtaining a ‘No Objection Certificate’ (NOC) from their ‘Controlling Officer’(Commanding Officer in case of defence services), this provision is hardly ever-utilised by the defence personnel. A lone example of an airman joining the IAS in 1994 was an extremely rare exception rather than a rule. No wonder then that most bright young men avoid the defence services, for they don’t want to join a dead end career .

The recent step, to reduce service length for promotion up to the rank of Lieut Col (and equivalent), though a welcome one, is not likely to make any difference in making the Army attractive because it does not address the major malady that the defence services are suffering from.

Therefore, by one stroke of pen, the problem of vast shortage in the officer cadre, (about 13,000 officers in the Army alone), can be made up if career in the defence services is made an ‘‘open-ended’ one by allowing Army officers to compete for the Civil Services after a suitably long tenure in the Army.

Brig Harwant Singh (Retd) Mohali

Need for better cable services

Apropos report‘‘Cable sabotage troubles city viewers’’ that appeared in Chandigarh Tribune (June 15, 2005), viewers in the city have to suffer as the whole system of cable TV is ailing and stinking.

The system is ill managed and plagued by cable operators’ war and absence of a regulatory authority within the city.

There is no uniformity in the tariff as the rates for cable services vary from Rs 150 to Rs 300. In spite of the advance payment 99 per cent operators are unavailable in case of a complaint or snag in transmission.

There is no Tariff Rates Regulatory Authority like in other services so viewers are left at the mercy of the operator and his team. It is high time that the citizens and administration reacted to these problems and improved the cable service.

Lieut. Col A.S. Malhi, Chandigarh

Remove congress grass

The authorities very kindly got the area around General Hospital, Sector 6, Panchkula, cleaned up some time back. But, parthenium (congress grass) has once again started raising its ugly head here. As the growth of this weed is still in its initial stages it would be easier to get rid of it now rather than during or after the rainy season, when it would be fully grown.

The weed is known to cause of skin, nose, throat and chest diseases, so it is in the interest of the health of residents of the area that the weed is removed at the earliest. The roads leading to the hospital too are in the need of repair before the rainy season.

Dr Harish Khanna, Panchkula



Nine held for gambling
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, June 20
The local police has arrested nine persons for gambling at public places from various parts of the city in the past 24 hours, according to information released by the local police, here, today.

Pawan Kumar of Sector 15 in Panchkula, Sanjeev Kumar of Sector 10, Panchkula, Madan Lal of Sector 40, Chandigarh and Prem Kumar of Harmilap Nagar in Baltana village in Punjab were arrested from near Fun Republic for gambling.

Sukhjit Singh of Sector 8, Panchkula, Vijay Kumar of Sector 28-D Anil Kumar of Sector 16, Rajesh Kumar of Sector 19 and Satish Kumar of Sector 28 were arrested from Motor Market in Mani Majra for gambling.

Three separate cases under Sections 13, 3 and 67 of the Gambling act have been registered against them in Mani Majra police station.

Car stolen

Mr Kashmiri Lal of Sector 35 A reported to the police that his Maruti car was stolen from his residence on Sunday. A case of theft has been registered in the Sector 36 police station.

Held for stealing

Two persons were arrested for stealing sewer covers, yesterday. Mr Chanan Singh of Sector 15-B reported to the police that Parmod Kumar and Tatesh Kumar, both residents of Kumhar Colony, Sector 25, had stolen three sewer covers. A case has been registered.


An electricity contractor was booked on a charge of molesting a woman in Bapu Dham Colony yesterday.

According to the police, a woman of Bapu Dham Colony, Sector 26, lodged a complaint against contractor Vinod Sharma alleging that Vinod had assaulted her with the intention of outraging her modesty on Sunday. The police said Vinod was collecting electricity bills from the locality. A case has been registered.



HUDA sells 32 sites for Rs 16.63 crore
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, June 20
The intense heat wave in the region did have its toll on the auction of commercial sites, organised by the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) today.

Though the auction was a success with the authority getting Rs 16. 63 crore after selling 32 sites, which had a reserve price of Rs 12. 21 crore, but the revenue yielded was less than the revenue generated during the previous auction when 31 sites were sold for Rs 18. 64 crore.

As many as 114 sites, including booths, built-up booths, shop-cum-offices, double-storey shops and service industry shops, were on offer in the auction. The auction began at 11.30 am and continued for almost eight hours. As many as 195 bidders participated in the auction.

The built- up booths in Sector 4 of Mansa Devi Complex (MDC) and booth sites in Sectors 14 and 15 sold like hot cakes. As against the reserve price of Rs 17. 83 lakh, a booth opposite Mata Mansa Devi shrine in MDC- Sector 4 yielded Rs 52. 30 lakh. Most of the booths in this sector were sold for anything between Rs 10 lakh to Rs 15 lakh more than the reserve price.

The booth site in Sector 14 was auctioned for Rs 46.10 lakh as compared to the reserve price of Rs 28.50 lakh. During the previous auction held in April, the booth sites here had fetched Rs 25.30 lakh. Similarly, in Sector 15, the booth sites were sold for Rs 30.70 crore as against the reserve price of Rs 24.17 lakh. In April, the booth sites here had fetched Rs 24 lakh.

The booth sites in Sectors 20 and 25 fetched a good revenue too. In Sector 20, as against the reserve price of Rs 33.37 lakh, the site was sold off for Rs 40. 30 lakh. But it was the prices in Sector 25 that took everyone by surprise. As against the reserve price of Rs 18. 90 lakh , the booth sites fetched Rs 28. 50 lakh.

In Sector 11, the showroom sites fetched HUDA Rs 3.46 crore as against the reserve price of Rs 3.09 crore.

But if there was good news for HUDA in MDC- Sector 4 and Sector 14 and 15, it failed to get any buyers in Sectors 3, 8, 12, 12-A and 21.



Prototype of low-floor bus in city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 20
The first prototype of low-floor buses purchased by the UT Administration has arrived in the city, sources said here today. The bus would be run on different routes in the city during the coming 10 days to check its efficiency.

The sources said the buses would be formally approved by the State Transport Authority before orders for the first batch of 20 vehicles was placed. The second lot of 20 more buses would come a month later.

The UT had purchased a total of 102 new low-floor buses, sources added. A senior officer said the low-floor buses were best suited for elders and children. These buses had more hold-bars for the comfort of the travellers.


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