C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Cyber security, data privacy a big challenge
Nasscom chief wants computer hardware affordable
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 15
Even as Punjab Governor-cum-UT Administrator Gen S.F. Rodrigues offered IT professionals to use Chandigarh Technology Park’ as a research laboratory for experimentation, Nasscom President Kiran Karnik said cyber security and data privacy were greatest challenges before IT professionals in the country.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh stole the show while Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda could not make it for the inaugural today. He was busy with the Cabinet in the morning and later attended office.

All is not well with the power situation in the city. The power went off for about a minute when the Punjab Governor-cum-UT Administrator, Gen S.F Rodrigues, was addressing the audience. Even after power was restored, it took vital seconds for the microphones to start functioning. The previous day also, power played hide and seek during the evening session.

The area outside the venue hall was jampacked each time the delegates and members of the audience came out for tea and lunch. The area being rather small was not able to accommodate the large gathering, particularly in the morning session.

Delivering the keynote address at the inauguration of two-day IT mega event, he did not directly refer to the recent “sting operation” by UK’s Sun newspaper, but it was obviously on the back of his mind when he said data security and protection were the major areas of customer concern, most of whom were outsourcing their work to India. In fact, they expect greater security of their data here than back home, he added.

The sting operation, involving a call centre employee, had revealed the sale of financial details and how the entire episode had put Indian BPO operations under a cloud.

He said Nasscom was working on multiple fronts and was sensitising the police, along with judiciary, on the issue of setting up world class “gold standards” for ensuring cyber security on the lines of the gold standards developed for IT services. Negotiations were also on for amendments in the IT Act so as to incorporate some stringent provisions for taking the violators to task.

Mr Karnik also stressed on the need for “developing quality human resources’’ for the growth of IT and BPO sector. He informed that Nasscom had already signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the University Grants Commission (UGC). Another MOU with the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) was on the cards.

“We want to upgrade the level of engineering and technical education. Our society acts like suction pumps which pulls out fresh engineering graduates straight into jobs,” he said, adding that the focus would be on developing the human resources during their conference in Chennai to be held shortly.

Mr Karnik said the third challenge before the IT industry was to tap new markets, not only outside the country but also the untapped markets within the country. The software exports last year stood at 17 billion dollars which Nasscom had targeted to go up to 50 billion dollars by 2009, he added.

Mr Karnik highlighted the need for making computer hardwares affordable and accessible to the common man, besides exploring new ways of accessing from computers to other devices like mobiles.

Requesting the state governments to create an enabling environment, set up incubation facilities, offer grants and other supporting infrastructure for the IT entrepreneurs, he said that Nasscom had been looking at development of alternate locations in the country to spread the benefits of IT, as well as tap the huge pool of talent available in newer areas.

Mr Mahender Nahata, Chairman of HFCL, meanwhile, said the company had invested Rs 2000 crore in setting up of telecom and broadband infrastructure in the region, giving direct employment to 4000 people and providing employment to over 60,000 people through their Connect PCO services. About Rs 200 crore would be invested in further extending the broadband services in the city which had the potential for IT growth due to its proximity to Delhi, connectivity, high quality manpower etc.

Gen Rodrigues said the Centre had already agreed in principle to upgrade Chandigarh Airport to the international level with complete supporting structure of connectivity and export facilities in the region.

He said adjacent to the Airport, they were developing 150 acres as export hub for fruits and vegetables, which would give impetus to the development of agro-business.

He added Chandigarh had an excellent social and progressive infrastructure in all important areas like education, healthcare and residential accommodation providing best quality of life to the people and that the Administration is making sincere efforts to develop Chandigarh as a knowledge sector on a holistic basis, with effective linkages between the administration, industry and academia.

He added that a world class IT Park was in an advanced stage of completion and this would provide services to professionals and for e-governance projects. He said that a Technology Habitat was also being set up, adjacent to the IT Park, which would project the modern face of planned development.

The Governor further emphasised the need for utilising IT for upgrading the quality of life of the 260 million people of the country living below the poverty line. He said main stress of these innovative ventures must be directed at removing the hardships of vulnerable sections of society and empowering them to cope with the stress and strains of poverty, disease and ignorance.

Mr S.K. Sandhu, Secretary, Finance and IT, Chandigarh Administration, said, “ e-governance was inescapable’’ . he pointed out that since 90 per cent websites were in English, 70 per cent people can’t use it.

Prominent among others who were present on the occasion included Mr Surinder Singla, Finance Minister Punjab, Mr. Lalit Sharma, Adviser to the Administrator, and Mr Krishna Mohan, Home Secretary, UT, Chandigarh.



Poor infrastructure city’s biggest handicap
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 15
Poor infrastructure. This sums up Chandigarh’s handicap in organising anything on a large scale. A small airport providing for inadequate air connectivity, increasing rush on roads and a lackadaisical Chandigarh Administration which has delayed the construction of the long-promised world class convention centre.

The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said the Union Government had agreed to a Rs 80 crore project for expanding the terminal building of the existing  airport at Chandigarh.

The list of such things seems to go on. The President of NASSCOM, Mr Kiran Karnik, did not mince words when he said “Chandigarh was not keeping pace in infrastructure development even with cities it was competing with for investment”. These cities can be Jaipur or Pune.

The need for a world class convention centre was felt today as the IT conclave “e-revolution” got under way at Taj. Some of the biggest names in the IT world arrived in the city and the venue had to be a hotel which actually surprised some of the visitors, who are more used to convention centres.

Ideally such conferences are held in convention centres which provide for staircase-pattern sitting. These centres provide for aisles where delegates can stand and ask questions from the speakers. They have permanent audio-visual facilities and business centres. The city does not have a place where all facilities to hold a convention of such magnitude exist. A few of such centre exist in the national capital.

At Taj, the plush banquet hall of the hotel served as makeshift convention centre. An adjoining room for small parties served as the media centre. The internet connectivity was very good. As there were no computer tables, keyboards were placed at odd angles, making it uncomfortable for users.

For more than six years the Chandigarh Administration has been promising a convention centre based on the format of the India Habitat Center, New Delhi, which is scheduled to come up on the nine acre vacant plot adjacent to the Beant Singh Memorial in Sector 42.

The Secretary Engineering, Mr S.K. Sandhu, who is also Secretary IT, told The Tribune, “actually a decision on the same is expected next week when the society which manages the Beant Singh Memorial will meet”. He promised that things will move fast.

Meanwhile, Mr Karnik blamed the lack of air connectivity saying other cities have direct flights to major metros. Chandigarh needed more flights if it has to compete. When asked if a convention centre was needed, he said "ideally, yes such conclaves should be held in convention centres".

It may be re-collected that more than eight years ago the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) had mooted the idea of making Chandigarh as ideal convention city. But nothing happened.

Infosys was among the first companies to have evinced an interest in Chandigarh more than five years ago.

Mr H.R. Binod, who signed the original MoU with the Chandigarh Administration, today said the city had become more crowded in the past five years. He blamed the general lack of futuristic planning in the country saying China was streets ahead of us.



Karnik sees city as major IT destination
Roopinder Singh

Chandigarh, July 15
Kiran Karnik is gung-ho about the potential of Chandigarh as an IT destination, even as he has some concerns about the infrastructure that the city provides. He was in town for "e-revolution 2005", as a key speaker for the two-day IT event being held here.

Karnik is no stranger to Chandigarh, "a beautiful city with a great quality of life", and he sees it as a major IT destination, as well as a "gateway to the mountains." This observation is typical of the cerebral, soft-spoken no-nonsense chief of India's largest software trade group, Nasscom. He keeps the larger picture in mind and looks beyond the obvious. Of course, he is concerned about data security which has to be, as he puts it, "better than that of nations which send their data, since if someone gives you something for safekeeping, you have to take better care of it than he would."

These simple homilies come from the well-known scientist with 20 years of work at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) behind him. He has also launched two major TV channels, Discovery Channel in South Asia in August 1995 and Animal Planet in 1999. The latter is a joint venture between Discovery and the BBC. No typical boffin, Karnik is a good communicator, as he should be, since after earning his honours in physics from Bombay University, he did his postgraduation from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.

He envisages India as a Fort Knox of data security, where data is as secure as the bullion in the premier US depository. Karnik is working towards greater cooperation between the industry and the government towards this goal. Nasscom is proposing amendments to the IT Act and bringing about more awareness of the IT issues in the judiciary

Karnik has no time for golf. On Thursday night, he politely turned down an invitation for a foursome and spent his morning with IT professionals. He is acutely aware of the information technology industry being a 'suction pump" that takes the best graduates, and wants to focus on more interaction between the industry and faculty. Nasscom has already signed an MoU with the University Grants Commission (UGC).

The combination of education and technology is what Karnik's career has been all about. At ISRO, he held various positions and was involved in the conception, planning and implementation of applications of space technology, focusing especially on the use of communications for development. He was earlier in the limelight because of his leadership of the Kheda Communications Project, which won the UNESCO-IPDC Prize for rural communication in 1985. UNESCO called it "an exceptional example of the combining of modern technologies with participatory approach to communication."

Karnik sees the domestic market as an emerging one, and various initiatives at e-governance will positively have an impact on the common man. He makes a strong plea for looking at the region as a whole, quite like the National Capital Region. "Plan for success, do not get bogged down by contingencies and what-ifs. Think of a mass transit system for Chandigarh which will be needed in a few years when the city is a throbbing IT hub. Create supply before there is demand…" The Nasscom chief is on a roll, and his enthusiasm is infectious.



E-Revolution 2005
Now, Sabeer’s foray into pharma industry
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 15
Sabeer Bhatia, the multi-millionaire Hotmail co-founder, has plans to use computers in drug formulations for discovering newer drugs in the upcoming pharmaceutical sector.

He will set up a data centre with at least 5,000 computers and use them for next generation of drug discovery.

Evincing keen interest in investing Rs 1,000 crore in Punjab, Mr Bhatia said he was exploring the possibility of entering the pharmaceutical sector in partnership with a local firm and his firm, Verseon, would make computers do what was being done in the laboratories earlier.

“It is not about dollar investment. It is about intellectual capital investment and developing the right kind of products,” he said.

He was in the city to participate in the ongoing IT conclave.

Born in Chandigarh, Mr Bhatia (35), who is now the CEO of Navin Communications Inc., admitted that the biggest hurdle in his career today was “making another company as successful as Hotmail”.

Today, he said, he was working on a number of ideas that laid at the confluence of broadband and telephony.

Mr Bhatia told Chandigarh Tribune that he had come up with Telixco, which would serve as a virtual PDA on any phone and also act as instant personal assistant for a user via the phone or independent of it. So, even if one lost the phone, one would not lose vital information, he claimed.

He had recently tied up with Spice Telecom in Bangalore to offer the facility to its subscribers.

Mr Bhatia planned to offer this and similar services through other service providers in India, Asia-Pacific and other European markets, where SMA and text usage was high.

“India has the potential to become an IT superpower and has the right ingredients. All it needs is to tap the intellectual capital,” he said while narrating the success story of Google as a website, which has grown from $ 5 million to $ 85 million in just six years.

The country is increasingly becoming proficient in all skills to create the next biggest software destination in the world, he claimed.

Mr Bhatia, who has four companies in India, is set to invest in a big way in the region. He has floated another company, Instal, instant collaboration online.

“Open source is the best thing as it has the power of opening architecture. Though Punjab is a late entrant to the IT party, it still can have an edge on the others by learning from mistakes of other big IT hubs like Hyderabad, Bangalore and Mumbai.

“However, there is a need for greater investment in providing better road and air connectivity, besides augmenting hospitality facilities for luring more entrepreneurs from the West to invest in the region.”

He had a piece of advice for young people, who see him as role model: “Excel at whatever it is that you do and do whatever makes you happy. Don’t chase money, chase satisfaction.”

Mr Bhatia had founded Hotmail in 1995, which was then sold to Microsoft for $ 400 million.

He visited Quark City and Dell office here to have an idea of the infrastructure available.



The youth power gets a taste of IT saga
Geetanjali Gayatri

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 15
Till yesterday they were practically forgotten. Today, they are special invitees at the IT conclave. Finally, the biggest IT fest of the Chandigarh Capital Region “e-Revolution 2005” paid heed to youth power and called in eight students of the Chandigarh College of Engineering and Technology (CCET) and Punjab Engineering College to attend the various sessions in progress at the mega event being held at Taj Hotel.

And they are ecstatic about this opportunity, savouring every bit of information the IT bigwigs provided, hanging on to every word they uttered. A handful of the most brilliant from their respective institutions, these students were almost in awe of the speakers as they sat through session after session all through the day.

A day after Chandigarh Tribune highlighted that IT students were regretting the fact that they had been left out of the IT conclave, the IT Department of UT rectified its mistake and sent for the students. Only the top few could be admitted entry at this last minute.

The officials also stated that holding special lectures for the students on the sidelines of the conclave with all the top shots of the industry around would have, after all, been a good idea. “The students sure could have benefited from this three-day exercise,” he said.

Says Bikram Chatterjee, IIIrd year student from CCET, “It’s been a great learning experience for us, listening to company heads, knowing what they are scouting for and what direction we should give to our careers”.

His friend, Sumad Singh, also from the same college, chips in,” The sessions at the conclave have provided us an insight into the real needs of the IT sector. With the city coming up as an IT hub, we need to know what kind of workforce the companies are looking for”.

From PEC’s Information Technology Department, Anmol Mann, who is among the lucky ones to be attending the conclave, states just being at the venue is over-whelming.” The IT sector is expanding at a fast rate. Listening to the various CEOs, it seems they are not only looking for technical skills but people with a commitment to deliver and they want a team person,” he says.

“The conclave has helped identify what kind of skills we need to acquire and given us an insight into the various aspects of specialisation. Since most of my classmates are not here, all of us are planning to go back to college and share the information with the rest,” says Latika Aggarwal, another PEC student.

Sameer Maggo and Ankush Garg of CCET actually took down notes at the seminar and were very impressed with the speakers. “One of them said that if China can contemplate making its own operating system, why can’t we Indians do the same. It’s the one thing that has clicked in me. I also think we don’t need to work on the operating systems America has given to the world,” they opine.

They have taken e-mail addresses, visiting cards, contact numbers of speakers that have interested them and all of them are elated at being a part of the conclave. Finally, the city’s e-revolution saga has touched the youth.



IT boom will change entire scenario, says MarketRx chief
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 15
The information technology boom has now entered its third phase which will change the entire scenario, said Mr Subinder Khurana, president of the MarketRx, Gurgaon, while addressing a session on ‘Beyond Call Centres and IT Services’ at the e-Revolution 2005 conference here today.

He said: “We are now going through the phase of developing Higher Knowledge Services. This was preceded by the IT boom in 1990s which was followed about five years later by the ITES (IT Enabled Services) booms,” he said.

The knowledge services will require greater professional knowledge as compared to the current scenario of the call-centres managed by lesser skilled staff. The job profile of only ‘night assignments’ in the call centers will also undergo a change, he said.

He felt that the current scenario of the companies concentrating only on short-term results was not worrisome because the long-term projects were to emerge out of the existing forms. He said the argument was important in the context that no technology, particularly in the IT, can survive on short term planning ventures.

Mr Khurana said that the companies need to focus on the customers, by understanding their problems and issues and offer them complete solutions which was a critical factor. However, he advised that as knowledge enterprises investment in IPR must be made and the best way to move up the success ladder is either to scale up or specialise.

Anil Bakht, CMD, Eastern Software Solutions, spoke about the challenges faced by product companies.



CM keen to ‘improve’ infrastructure
Our Correspondent

Mohali, July 15
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, is interested in spending Rs 150 crore on the upgradation of the infrastructure in Mohali.

This was stated by Mr Bir Devinder Singh, MLA, Kharar, while talking to mediapersons here today. He said that the infrastructure had to be upgraded to attract multi-national companies to this town. Dell had set up a call centre here and Quark was also running a unit. Now other companies like Infosys, Wipro and Tata were also planning to come in a big way to the town.

Mr Michael Dell, owner of Dell company, has been asked to set up a manufacturing unit in Mohali and he is checking the feasibility in this regard.



Talk on ‘IT and BPO trends’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 15
India needed to start betting on original technology instead of using the technology that is tried, tested and nearly on its way out in the developed countries, said Mr Pradeep Gupta, Chief Managing Director of the Cyber Media and IDC (India), while addressing the e-Revolution 2005 conference here today. He was speaking on “IT and BPO trends 2005”.

He said that the technology got archaic in the field of IT very soon and new innovations took over. New innovations were a must to keep the ‘IT revolution’ rolling.

“The IT sector in the country is on a roller-coaster ride in the short-term scenario now. However, we need to have a planning for the long run”, he said.

Mr Gupta said the world economy was also looking great at the moment. The USA and Japan were doing good. However, testing grounds with all likelihood of a big success, at the moment, were India, China and Russia.

He said that on at an average 40 lakh PCs were sold annually in India which was peanuts as compared to more than 1.3 crores annually in China. The market needed greater “exploration into the world of ‘B’ and ‘C’ categories of customers”.



Stress on integrating stakeholders

Chandigarh, July 15
In order to retain an edge in the international Information Technology market, there is a need for countrywide integration of different stakeholders. These include government, businesses and the academia.

This was stated by Ms Supriya Kapoor of Hewitt Associates, one of the Fortune 500 companies, in a session on “Mapping the right skills for the right job”.

She said the company had initiated best practices in the country in the field of ITES and had been working with Nasscom as well as almost every BPO in the country.

Mr Narendra Puppala, vice-president of Global HR, Birlasoft India, in his presentation suggested humanising work place and understanding the aspirations and skill levels of an individual to make a successful venture.

Mr Deepak Dhawan, vice-president of the HR and Training, EXL Services, lamented the growing nexus between the HR people and recruitment agencies but pointed out that recruitment and training were two key factors in ensuring success of any organisation. TNS



US Army Chief to visit Chandimandir, Shimla
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 15
The Chief of Staff of the United States Army, Gen Peter J. Schoomaker, is scheduled to arrive on a two-day visit to the Headquarters Western Command at Chandimandir and the Army Training Command (ARTRAC) in Shimla on August 6 and 7. Besides this, he will also be interacting with top military and defence ministry officials in New Delhi during his stay in India.

The first top US Army officer to visit Chandimandir, he will interact with the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Command, Lieut-Gen S. Pattabhiraman, and will be given a presentation on the role and activities of the command. Thereafter, he will proceed to Shimla for an overnight stay at the ARTRAC Headquarters, where he will have similar interactions with the GOC-in-C, ARTRAC, Lieut-Gen Deepak Kapoor.

Sources describe the US Army Chief's forthcoming visit here as a routine military-to-military interaction between the armies of the two countries. According to an officer, this is a reciprocal visit to former Indian Chief of Army Staff, Gen N.C. Vij's visit to the United States last year.

Besides other officers and staff, he will be accompanied by a US Army Major-General. The 35th US Army Chief, he is stated to be an expert in special operations and was Commander-in-Chief of the US Special Operations Command. He has also served at various levels in the special operations command and has taken part in US operations in Iran, Panama, Grenada, Iraq and Haiti.

General Schoomaker will be the second military chief of a major NATO country to visit Chandimandir within a year. The Chief of General Staff, United Kingdom, Gen Sir Mike Jackson, had visited Western Command in October last. He is also the second US Army Chief to visit India. His immediate predecessor, Gen Eric K Shinseki, had visited India in 2003. A few years ago, a British Lieutenant-General had also visited the Western Command.

Defence ties between the two countries have witnessed a sea change over the past few years, with a series of joint exercises, training programmes and bilateral visits being organised towards this end.



Liver of foetus helps in bone marrow formation
AIIMS finds cure for patients of aplastic anaemia
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Dr Vinod Kochupillai, Head, Cancer Centre, AIIMS,New Delhi, shares significant research findings during her visit to Chandigarh on Friday.
Dr Vinod Kochupillai, Head, Cancer Centre, AIIMS,New Delhi, shares significant research findings during her visit to Chandigarh on Friday.

Chandigarh, July 15
In a path-breaking research, experts at AIIMS's Cancer Centre have shown that liver of the foetus can prove to be a lifeline for those suffering from aplastic anaemia.

Aplastic anaemia is a condition wherein the patient's white blood cells and haemoglobin count dip significantly low, and his bone marrow formation is severely blocked.

In Chandigarh today on a personal visit, Dr Vinod Kochupillai, Head, Cancer Centre, AIIMS, New Delhi, said the infusion of foetal liver resulted in the liberation of certain chemicals which helped in the bone marrow formation among patients of aplastic anaemia.

"We are now trying to work out a cocktail of these cytokines (chemicals) which can well be the cure for such patients," said Dr Kochupillai, who has also established the scientific basis of all meditative practices under the Art of Living regime.

Herself an Art of Living instructor, she shared interesting details about the positive impact of the course, including that "Sudershan Kriya increases antioxidant enzymes in the body which help the individual's battle against cancer, heart ailments and arthritis, and even delays the occurrence of these diseases formidably."

Sharing findings of another research by her centre, Dr Kochupillai said, "We have studied the role of vitamins in lung cancer management and discovered that a very high dose of vitamins C, E and carotene, along with chemotherapy, hugely benefited lung cancer patients."

Apart from these works, Dr Kochupillai has guided several research projects on the Art of Living courses and their benefits. "Through active testing techniques at AIIMS it has been proved that breast cancer patients who take the Art of Living course can tolerate chemotherapy and radiotherapy better" she said.

Not only that :"50 per cent of chronic tobacco addicts, who regularly took the course, gave up the habit; the course helped people increase their antioxidant enzyme level and fight age- related diseases better; 45 days of the course demonstrated a massive fall in cholesterol levels; the course also strengthened the immune system by increasing the number of neutral killer cells in their body."

All these studies have been published in the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology; some have made it to the international journal — Biological Physiology.

Another study Dr Kochupillai recently conducted showed that those attending meditation sessions had very high beta and alpha levels. "It means they are in a state of relaxed alertness," said Dr Kochupillai, who has been teaching Art of Living to doctors, nurses and patients at AIIMS.

It has further been shown that meditation reduces blood lactate levels among police trainees who are otherwise under tremendous stress due to high lactate levels. It also increased the heart rate variability of people which means that within six days of exposure to meditation, people's ability to respond to difficult situations increased tremendously.



4 BPCL employees die in road mishap
Bipin Bhardwaj

Lalru, July 15
Four employees of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) died and two others sustained serious injuries in a major accident on the ‘killer’ Kalka-Ambala highway at Gholumajra village, near here, late last night.

The employees of the BPCL were on the way to their homes in a taxi (Sumo) after doing night shift at company’s bottling plant, near here, when they met with an accident. The vehicle in which they were travelling towards Zirakpur from Lalru had a head-on collision with a truck, approaching from the opposite direction, leaving four — Mr Baldev Singh of Buta Singhwala near Zirakpur, Mr Rajinder Singh of Buddanpur village, Mr Harish Malik of Dera Bassi and Mr Gurcharan Singh of Jwaharpur village — dead.

Two other occupants, including the driver, of the Sumo (HR-55-5779) also sustained serious injuries. Critically injured Mr Suchha Singh, alias Lucky of Bhankharpur village was taken to the Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), Sector 32, Chandigarh, while Mr Inderpal Singh, the driver was rushed to the Civil Hospital, Ambala.

According to the police, the driver Mr Inderpal Singh lost control over the vehicle when he was overtaking another vehicle as a result of which a truck approaching from the opposite direction collided head-on with Sumo. The truck (HR-37-5348) overturned on the highway and the Sumo was dragged out of the berm of the road on the wrong direction.

Hearing a loud thud, employees of an industrial unit and certain workers of a dhaba, nearby, rushed to the spot and took Mr Suchha Singh to the GMCH, Sector 32, Chandigarh. The driver of the Sumo reportedly jumped out of the vehicle just seconds from the accident and collapsed after trudging about 200 yards. He also made phone calls to the BPCL office at Lalru and informed officials about the mishap, eyewitnesses said.

Traffic on the busy highway was also disrupted as the truck was lying across the highway after the collision. Passengers and passersby assembled at the spot and extricated two bodied from the Sumo.

The police also reached the spot and extricated two bodies from mangled remains of the vehicle by cutting its parts. Certain senior officials of the BPCL also reached the spot as they received the news of the accident.

Mr Phool Chand, investigating officer, revealed that the Sumo was carrying eight employees from the BPCL bottling plant, located near Lalru, to their respective destination after their duty hours late last night. Two other employees — Karnail Singh of Ber Majra village and Mr Ismail Khan of Amlala village — were the lucky survivors as they had left the vehicle near Dappar village, just before the accident.

The vehicular traffic on the highway was restored at about 12.45 am after the police removed the damaged vehicles with the help of a crane.

The bodies were today handed over to the family members this evening after post mortem examination at Civil Hospital, Rajpura, in the noon. The truck driver is said to have fled from the scene after the mishap.



Passing Thru

What brings you to Chandigarh?
NK Gaur, general secretary of the Punjab Bank Employees Federation, Patiala. NK Gaur, general secretary of the Punjab Bank Employees Federation, Patiala.

I am here in connection with the release of the statewise list of bank defaulters above Rs 1 crore in the country. The list, prepared by the All-India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA), is being released all over the country to create public awareness about the corporate defaulters.

What is the approximate amount of non-performing assets (NPAs) of the public sector banks?

As on March 31,2004, the gross NPAs above Rs 1 crore are about Rs 96,000 crore.

How the NPAs can be minimised?

Wilful default should be made a criminal offence and the personal assets of the borrowers should be attached to recover the dues. Also the laws concerning the recovery of NPAs should be made more stringent so that people’s money should be utilised for people welfare and not for “private loot”.

How do you rate the performance of the public sector banks vis-a-vis the private sector banks?

In view of the competition from the private banks, the performance of the public sector banks is getting better with the each passing day. In fact, the public sector banks have wider reach given their social obligations in the rural areas. The private banks’ main purpose is to earn maximum profit and that is the reason they are concentrated in urban areas only.

— Pradeep Sharma



Hawara linked with Delhi blasts, says police
Tribune Reporters

Chandigarh, July 15
Following the identification of another accused, the Chandigarh Police today claimed to have established a link between Babbar Khalsa International’s alleged chief Jagtar Singh Hawara and twin blasts in Delhi cinema halls.

The identified person, Gurdev Singh (70) of Chamkaur Sahib, has been accused of harbouring Hawara at his farmhouse. He has been handed over to the police at Chamkaur Sahib for further legal action.

The development is significant as Hawara had earlier denied his hand in the Delhi blasts. In a statement to the police, Hawara had asserted that he was against the killing of innocents.

Giving details of the investigations, sources said Hawara was allegedly told by Satnam Singh — the Germany-based son-in-law of BKI’s alleged top man Wadhawa Singh — to arrange a safe hideout for Jaspal Singh and Vikas Sehgal on run after the Delhi blasts. A spokesman of the Chandigarh Police said Hawara met the two at a prearranged location and took them to the farmhouse of Gurdev Singh.



Overturned truck blocks traffic
Our Correspondent

A truck loaded with scrap overturned at Singhpura Bhudda village, blocking the Ambala-Kalka highway near Zirakpur on Friday.
A truck loaded with scrap overturned at Singhpura Bhudda village, blocking the Ambala-Kalka highway near Zirakpur on Friday. — Tribune photo by Manoj Mahajan.

Zirakpur, July 15
The traffic on the Zirakpur-Dera Bassi stretch of the busy Kalka-Ambala highway moved at snail’s pace after a truck, loaded with scrap, overturned at Singhpura Bhudda village, early this morning.

Scores of passengers and motorists heading towards Ambala and Delhi and in the reverse route were put to a great hardship due to the traffic jam. Though the accident occurred at about 6 am there was hardly any traffic police personnel to regulate the vehicular traffic till 11 am.

Passengers who had to catch trains from Ambala Railway Station and flights from Delhi International Airport were delayed by two to three hours.

Caught unaware in the traffic jam, vehicles heading towards Chandigarh took Singhpura-Chhat-Zirakpur rout to rejoin the highway at Zirakpur Traffic-Light Point while the vehicles heading towards Ambala had no options but to remain stranded in the jam. The vehicles lined up all along the highway on either sides of the spot. In absence of any traffic police personnel, certain Army officials who were companying an Army convey, controlled the traffic for some time. Vehicular traffic on the highway was restored after the truck and the scrap, it was carrying, was removed with the help of a crane in the afternoon.



Packaged drinking water: BIS to conduct inquiry
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 15
The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) is planning to conduct its own inquiry into the quality of packaged drinking water. This follows the investigation conducted by The Tribune in which nine packaged drinking water samples, picked up from the market, were found to be contaminated with bacteria found in human and animal faecal matter.

Mr Avtar Singh, Deputy Director General of the Northern Regional Office of BIS, said they were planning to conduct the tests in laboratories and also visit the bottling units and recheck their test records.

The BIS authorities is keen to start off the process as soon as possible as they formulate the standards for packaged drinking water which are a list of stringent norms and regulations dealing with the standard mark (ISI). Bottling units are required to follow rigorous tests for hygiene, treatment, microbiological and chemical testing, packing, marking and labelling during the bottling process.



Body resents frequent hikes in cable rental
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 15
Members of the Residents Welfare Forum, Sector 46 D, have resented frequent hikes in rental by cable operators in the city.

In a press note issued by the association, members have alleged that cable operators increase the rental at their free will, putting a burden on the subscribers.



Firm director held for cheating
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 15
A director and two managers of a Sector 36-D based company M/s Iland Internet Land were arrested today on the allegations of cheating. The police said the accused were luring gullible people to join computer course for a year by charging hefty amounts. After two or three months, the candidates were asked to leave the course but the money was never returned.

The police claimed that it arrested director, Sanjiv Walia, managers, Lalin Chettiar and Vijay Rana of the company following the registration of a case.

The source in the police headquarters said a case was registered on the basis of a complaint filed by Mr J.S. Thakur of Food Craft Institute in Sector 42, Chandigarh.

Mr Thakur in his complaint alleged that in April, 2005, a woman receptionist of the institute made a phone call at his home and asked some simple questions from his son Sanjay Thakur. Sanjay, a 10+2 student gave right answers to the questions. Later, the same woman again made phone call and informed them that their son had won a ‘prize’ and asked them to collect it from their office. Following this, his son went to their office alone, but was told to bring his parents along with him.

Lured by a prize, Mr Thakur went to office and was again asked to bring his wife along with them. When they all went there, they were told that the proprietor of the company had to make a presentation of one hour about the different computer courses they were offering. Mr Thakur in his complaint maintained that he clearly told them that he was not interested for any such course and had come to their office to collect their prize.



2 photographers looted, found unconscious
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, July 15
Two photographers from nearby town of Pinjore were hired to photograph and film an engagement ceremony at a hotel last night. The duo, Salim and Vijay, were found unconscious near Sahara Resorts this morning.

The photographers had been drugged and looted of their possessions amounting to Rs 90,000. They are now admitted to the General Hospital here, and are still in an unconscious state.

The incident took place yesterday when four men came to Neha Photo Studio at Pinjore. These men reportedly told Salim and Vijay that one of their relatives was getting engaged at Hotel Shagun in Pinjore, and they needed their services.

The duo reportedly reached the hotel in the evening and were ushered into a room.

The police say that the duo, in a semi-conscious state, have stated: “They were offered cold drinks and snacks, but beyond this they cannot recall anything else,” said a police official.

In the meantime, when the victims failed to reach back home last night, their families got worried and launched a manhunt to trace them. It was early in the morning that they were found unconscious near a mazaar near Sahara Resorts. Their camera worth Rs 20,000, a video camera worth Rs 65,000, a mobile phone worth Rs 3,000 and Rs 2,000 in cash were missing. Their scooter was also later found parked near the Old Panchkula bus stop.

The victims were rushed to a hospital at Kalka, from where they were referred to the General Hospital.



One held for thefts
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 15
With the arrest of a notorious thief the local police today claimed to solve four cases of thefts and recovered stolen property worth Rs 2.32 lakh. The police said the accused was apprehended while driving a stolen car without a number plate.

The sources in the police said that they had gathered information about the activities of Madan Mohan, alias Manu, alias Max, a resident of Teera village in Ropar district.



Rs 1 lakh stolen from car
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 15
In two separate incidents, thieves decamped with over Rs 1 lakh and a mobile set by breaking the glass of a car’s windowpanes. In another case of theft, things worth Rs 40,000 were stolen from a factory premises in industrial area, last night.

The sources in the police said a businessman Chandra Shekhar in his complaint alleged that he withdrew Rs 1.10 lakh from ICICI Bank in Phase VII in Mohali today. He went to Sector 37-D to meet his friend and parked his car outside in a parking lot.



Cash, jewellery stolen
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, July 15
Cash and jewellery worth Rs 2 lakh was stolen from the flat in Group Housing Society No 4, Sector 20. The owner of the house, Wg Cdr S. Wadhwa, had come downstairs for some work.

After about 20 minutes, when he went to his flat, he found it ransacked and cash and jewellery missing. Another flat in the society was also ransacked, though the police say that nothing was stolen.



Pay Roll Savings Day celebrated
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 15
Pay Roll Savings Day was celebrated at a state level at the Central State Library, Sector 17 in joint collaboration with by the National Savings Institute (GOI) and Chandigarh centre and Directorate of Small Savings, Chandigarh Administration. Heads, drawing and disbursing officers and cashiers of 23 offices of Government of India, Chandigarh Administration, Haryana, postal department and private sector in which Pay Roll Saving of Small savings is functioning in the city participated beside the employees.

While addressing the function, chief guest Mr Arun Sekhri, director, transport, UT revealed that Rs 205.20 crore have been collected against the target of Rs 125 crores during the year 2004-05 under small saving schemes.

Ms Ramola K C, State librarian, presided over the function and talked about the importance of the small savings.


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