C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Dullo supporters swarm city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 20
Hundreds of Congress supporters swarmed the city severely affecting the traffic on the Madhya Marg here today. The road witnessed unprecedented rush on the occasion of the function organised by the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) to install Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo as its president.

Groups of supporters were spread all over the road, particularly from the Rose Garden to the PGI chowk. Supporters started reaching to the party office in Sector 15 from early morning. By 10.30 am, the office was full and even mediapersons could not enter through the main gate.

A Sumo loaded with ladoos was stationed near the Rose Garden chowk. It became the centre of attraction for supporters who rushed to fetch their share. Traffic on the Madhya Marg was badly affected. The most severely hit were the PGI patients. They had to take alternative route through the Panjab University premises. The rush continued till around 2.30 pm. Students of the Government College for Girls also had to face inconvenience.

Residential areas, particularly in Sector 15, were also crowded. A large number of vehicles were parked in residential areas which caused inconvenience to the public. City roads also witnessed heavy rush.

The visiting parties had made elaborate arrangements for their lunch break. The festivity visible during the lunch break made the occasion appear like a picnic. Small groups were seen dancing to the beats of “dhols”. Certain groups were sharing jokes while certain others were seen singing. The traffic police had a tough time managing the traffic.

After the function, the supporters headed for “picnic spots, particularly in Sector 17, Rose Garden, Lake and Rock Garden. A large number of youngsters were seen discussing their programme to visit Fun Republic for their afternoon “celebration”.

The liquor vends in Sectors 17 and 22 were hot favorites among a sizeable number of visitors. “We have done our bit for showing our dedication to our local leader who expects a party ticket in the next elections, now it is time to celebrate our visit to a big city,” a leader of a group of supporters said.

MOHALI: Hundreds of Congress members and supporters converged on the showroom of Congress leader Balbir Singh Sidhu here this morning to accompany a caravan of vehicles to the Punjab Congress Bhavan in Chandigarh where the new PPCC president was to assume his chair.

According to a press statement issued by Mr H.S. Sharma, general secretary of the District Congress Committee, Ropar, over 250 cars and 150 tractor trailers full of Congress supporters were taken to the venue of the installation ceremony.



Cops take a U-turn, drop charges against Samidha
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu

Chandigarh, July 20
Less than a month-and-a-half after forcing Samidha Bansal to go underground due to the registration of an abetment-to-suicide case, the Chandigarh Police today realised its mistake and dropped the charges against her.

Commenting on the way the police acted in the case, legal experts in the city said the police should have first inquired into the allegations before claiming that Samidha was wanted in the case.

“Just because the police acted in haste, Samidha had to go underground and explore legal remedies,” an advocate practising in the Punjab and Haryana High Court asserted. “This is just not done”.

For Samidha, the ordeal started soon after Panjab University student Chandni Bansal ended her life by jumping into the Sukhana Lake on June 11. The Chandigarh Police registered a case against Chandani’s friend Rakesh Rohilla and his colleague Samidha on the basis of a complaint filed by Nidhi Dubey, sister of Chandni. Following the registration of the case, the police arrested Rakesh Rohilla on June 13 and after it Samidha went underground and remained elusive to the police. The police also issued a lookout circular for Samidha.

In a press note, the Chandigarh Police said Samidha had joined the investigation and had been questioned regarding the matter. After an analysis of the entire evidence available on record, the investigating officer had reached the conclusion that there was insufficient proof to connect Samidha with the offence. The statement added that it had been decided to drop the charges against Samidha and not to prosecute her. The lookout circular issued against her was being withdrawn as she had joined the investigation.

The statement said some incriminating evidence against Samidha had come on record. However, it was not sufficient to warrant Samidha’s arrest.

In her statement to the police, Nidhi had alleged that Chandni was going around with Rakesh for the past many years and they were childhood friends. However, Rakesh had been avoiding Chandni of late and she was disturbed due to that. 



School site sale: PUDA to issue notice
Tribune News Service

Mohali, July 20
The Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) has decided to issue a public notice warning those indulging in the school-site sale in Mohali. When contacted the Chief Administrator PUDA, Mr A.S. Chattwal, stated that strict action would be taken against those who either buy or sell any institutional site allotted by PUDA.

“These include sites for schools, charitable institutions, religious institutions etc. We are also devising methods by which to take care of the possibility of re-sale of such sites. Also we would be referring the case highlighted by the Tribune today to the vigilances or the police for an inquiry,” he said.



Remove MC chief, say Cong councillors
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, July 20
The rift between the two factions of the Congress in the municipal council (MC) today came wide open. Congress councillors of the Chander Mohan camp, who had abstained from yesterday’s General House meeting, raised the banner of revolt saying that they did not consider Mr Tarun Bhandari as their party leader in the House.

Addressing a press conference, seven Congress councillors demanded Mr Bhandari’s resignation, alleging that he was involved in the embezzlement of municipal council funds meant for development of parks in his ward.

“He should step down on moral grounds. On a complaint of Mr B.L. Tandon of the PVGV Group, the Local Bodies Department, Haryana, has ordered an inquiry against him. Being the MC president, he can influence the inquiry. He should step down to help in a fair inquiry,” they said.

Ms Renuka Rai Walia, Mr V.K. Kapoor, Mr Dalbir Singh, Ms Jalmegha Dahiya, Mr R.K. Kakkar, Mr Naresh Rawal and Ms Manvir Gill had ‘boycotted’ yesterday’s General House, which was Mr Bhandari’s maiden meeting as the MC chief.

Today, these councillors said they had boycotted the meeting as they did not consider him to be the party leader in the House, as he had gained the MC chief’s post by taking support of INLD councillors.

BJP councillor C.B. Goel, who was present at the conference, called Mr Bhandari “… the most tainted councillor, who has been made the president”. When quizzed that he was one of those who had voted in favour of Mr Bhandari as president a month ago, he said he was not aware who would be made president till the last minute.

“The Congress has 18 councillors in the House. Only eight councillors are in his favour. He is working with the support of 10 INLD councillors, and had even offered the post of vice-president to the INLD candidate, Ms Kuljit Waraich. Ms Waraich was removed from the same post by a no-confidence vote passed by the House. She was re- appointed by Mr Bhandari to win over the support of the INLD councillors,” they alleged.

The councillors said since only 15 councillors were present at yesterday’s meeting, they would now ask the Deputy Commissioner to cancel all proposals passed at the meeting. “Though the quorum was complete, the House did not have the majority to pass these proposals,” said Mr Ravinder Rawal, state secretary of the Haryana Congress.

Mr Rawal said the Congress councillors would now meet the Chief Minister, the Minister for Local Bodies, and the Director, Local Bodies, to remove Mr Bhandari in view of the inquiry pending against him.

Municipal council chief Tarun Bhandari claimed that all allegations of corruption levelled against him were false. “Mr Tandon is playing in the hands of certain Congress councillors.

These people are levelling allegations just because their personal political aspirations have been hurt after they were not nominated as president,” he said adding that the inquiry being conducted by the Local Bodies Department would bring out the truth.



Forest Act may block NAC status for Nayagaon
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 20
There is many a slip between the cup and the lip! Even when all legal hurdles have been overcome, the Punjab Forest Act might just prove to be the stumbling block for the government to notify Nayagaon and the adjoining areas as a notified area committee (NAC).

A major part of the area which the government wants to include in the proposed civic body is notified under the Land Preservation Act, 1900, the Indian Forest Act, 1927, and the Forest Conservation Act, 1980.

Interestingly, an affidavit filed by the state government in the Supreme Court to get around 1,000 acres of agricultural land denotified at Karoran village is yet to be decided by the apex court.

Use of the land protected under the Forest Act for non-forestry purpose is not allowed and the state government is merely the custodian of the land. “Including land in the NAC does not violate the provisions of the Forest Act but any change of land use undertaken amounts to its violation. Any violation will attract strict action from the Central Government”, said a senior officer in the regional office of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.

Notably, a similar objection was raised by the Punjab Forest Department in 2001, when the then Akali government had notified Nayagaon as an NAC. Since the objection still stands, the government has to address it both under the Periphery Act and the Forest Act, added the officer.

The Morinda MLA and Punjab Animal Husbandry Minister, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, said today that a meeting with the Local Government Minister, Mr Jagjit Singh, and offices of various departments had been convened to discuss the modalities regarding the formation of the civic body.

Asked about the Forest Act, he said the area to be included in the civic body would remain the same as had been proposed in 2001 but all legal aspects would be discussed before the case was sent to the Chief Minister for nod. He said various taxes would be levied to carry out development works.

The government proposes to include land of Karoran (Choti and Baddi Karoran), Nadha village and Kansal village in the civic body. At least 3,700 acres at Karoran village (Choti and Baddi Karoran) is protected under Sections 4 and 5 of the Land Preservation Act.

In 2001, the state government had notified around 2,000 acres at Nadha, Kansal and Karoran villages under the NAC before the notification was stayed by the high court. The sources did not rule out the possibility of the state government redefining the boundaries of the proposed civic body to benefit certain “resourceful” persons having land protected under the provisions of the Forest Act. Many bureaucrats, police officials and politicians have stakes in the area.

The Principal Secretary, Local Government, Mr B.R. Bajaj, said the departments concerned would be consulted before going ahead with the notification. He said all legal formalities like clearance from various departments would be worked out. It would take another three to four months for things to move ahead.



India-Myanmar hydro project makes headway
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 20
Over six years after a joint Indo-Myanmar hydro-power generation project was initiated, the project has finally made a headway, with the governments of both countries accepting the pre-feasibility report.

Termed as Tamanthi Hydro-Electric Project, it will have a generating capacity of 1200 megawatt and is being developed as a mutual interest venture between India and Myanmar.

“We had started work on the report in April, 2004, after signing a formal agreement with the Ministry of External Affairs,” Mr M.M. Madan, Executive Director of the National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC), said. “Acceptance of the report implies that both countries are keen to go ahead with the project,” he added.

This is the third major foreign project to be undertaken by the NHPC after setting up power stations in Nepal and Bhutan. It has also carried out feasibility studies for setting up hydro power stations in Uzbekistan and Tajikstan following which the External Affairs Ministry and the power ministry recommended that such proposals be considered for development.

The NHPC was tasked by the ministry to prepare the report and it has conducted field surveys and investigations at the project site in collaboration with the Myanmar authorities. It would be the major Indian agency to execute the project.

The project would involve construction of a dam on the Chindwin, the main tributary of Myanmar’s major river, the Irrawaddy. The 840 km long Chindwin, known as Ningthi in Manipur, has its source in the Pulkai Kumon ranges along the Indo-Myanmar border.

In February, 1999, a fact-finding mission led by the Member (Hydro), Central Electricity Authority (CEA), visited Myanmar, followed by a joint site inspection by technical experts from both countries.

The Indian comprised experts from the CEA, the NHPC, the Central Water Commission and the Geological Survey of India. The team had identified two potential sites at Tazon and Hwena, and gauge and discharge stations were established to study the general geology of the sites.

During his visit to India in October 2004, Myanmar’s Gen Than Shwe had signed a memorandum of understanding on the project with the Indian Government

In February this year, a five-member team comprising experts from the CEA, the NHPC and the Power Grid Corporation of India visited Myanmar and held discussions with authorities about exporting 80 per cent power generated by the project to India. Laying of transmission lines from the project site to a hub in north-eastern India, funding, contracts and investments were other issues reportedly discussed during the visit.

The matter was also among several energy and infrastructure related issues which figured on the agenda for discussions when the Minister for External Affairs, Mr Natwar Singh, had visited Myanmar in March.



Hawara’s interrogation hasn’t left cops any wiser
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 20
Even after interrogating Babbar Khalsa International’s alleged chief Jagtar Singh Hawara for almost 13 days, the Chandigarh Police is hardly any wiser in the jailbreak case. For, Hawara has only told the police what it already knew.

Unanswered questions

* Where are the other escapees ?

* Was the jail staff involved in the great escape ?

* Where is the mobile phone allegedly used by Hawara before he escaped?

* Who had supplied Hawara with money and other stuff used in making good the escape? Why have they not been arrested?

Hawara’s police remand in the jailbreak case ended this morning. He is now being interrogated by the Chandigarh Police for his involvement in preparation of human bombs and his police remand in this case has been extended till July 28.

Though senior officers refuse to comment, the sources say cops are still in the dark regarding the whereabouts of his alleged accomplices. After arresting Hawara earlier this month, the cops were rather sure that they would soon be able to nab the other three escapees. They had gone up to the extent of saying that Hawara’s accomplice Paramjit Singh Bheroa was lying low in Delhi and was well within their reach.

Hawara, Bheora, Jagtar Singh Tara and Devi Singh had tunnelled their way out of the Model Jail in Burail village in January last year. Hawara was nabbed by the Delhi Police. The other three are still at large.

Though Hawara — facing trial in Punjab’s former Chief Minister Beant Singh’s assassination case, along with Tara and Bheora — was subjected to “sustained interrogation”, the officers questioning him even today cannot say for certain whether the jail staff was involved in the great escape.

At the time of the jailbreak 18 months ago, the cops had expressed apprehension that accomplice Devi Singh’s stay in Hawara’s cell was a part of a larger conspiracy. They had claimed that the successful disposal of loose earth from the tunnel without raising suspicion went a long way to suggest the connivance of the jail staff in the case.

The cops had also claimed that co-accused in the case had supplied Hawara and his accomplices a “long cloth” for enabling them to descend and climb up the tunnel. Besides, the inmates were openly using mobile phones for getting in touch with their mentors in the West. For them, money was hardly a problem even in the jail.

So far, the interrogating officers have not been able to trace the mobile phone Hawara was allegedly using before he tunnelled his way out of the jail. They have not even been able to lay their hands on the accused facilitating their escape.

A senior Chandigarh officer says that Hawara is a hard nut to crack. Hawara has been subjected to sustained interrogation so many times in connection with different criminal cases that “he knows exactly how to tunnel his way out of ugly and uncomfortable situations”.

“In fact, Hawara knows the police and its methods like the back of his own hand”, the officer adds. “No wonder, he has been leaking selective information to the interrogating officers”.



Passing Thru

Dr Salim Akhtar
Dr Salim Akhtar, eminent Pakistani scholar

You have published over 60 books in Urdu. Which has been the best seller?

My book, “The Short History of Urdu Literature” has been in great demand. It traces the language’s evolution. It has been published both in India and Pakistan.

As an expert of Urdu literature, what is your assessment of Ghalib’s life and his wayward ways?

Ghalib has always captured my imagination. In fact I am among the few litterateurs who have used Freudian psychology to study the minds of poets. In my opinion, Ghalib was a genius but like other nawabs who considered working menial, he also led a pompous life.

What about Ghalib’s love life? There has always been a debate regarding woman in his life?

I had access to some of Ghalib’s rarest letters, even the one in which he made the mention of his beloved “Chandni”. There are several myths about the woman in Ghalib’s life, but most probably it was this very “singer-dancer.” She seems to have died very young. There are indications to that effect in Ghalib’s poetry.

Did you never land into controversy for applying Freudian psychology in Urdu literature?

Yes I did, especially when I wrote for the first time that Mir Taki Mir was not a homosexual but a bisexual. His poetry proves that. I also exposed the indulgences of Alama Iqbal, who is not regarded less than a prophet in Pakistan. I nearly lost my job when I wrote about his sex life.

Aditi Tandon



Probe finds bribe charge against ASI baseless
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 20
In an inquiry conducted into an alleged attempt to take bribe by the Assistant Sub-Inspector posted at the Mauli Jagran police post, the Deputy Superintendent of Chandigarh Police (East) today found the allegations baseless.

A section of residents of Mauli Jagran yesterday held a protest before the Mauli Jagran police post and raised slogans against the police for its alleged biased role and not taking action against a person accused of stealing a 

Refuting the allegations, Inspector Vijay Pal Singh, DSP (East), said on July 12 the police control room received a phone call from Mauli Jagran that a fight had taken place rendering one person injured. ASI Tilak Raj rushed to the spot and shifted injured Haroon Khan to hospital in Mani Majra. Haroon sustained head injuries in the attack and received seven stitches. On the basis of a complaint filed by Haroon, the police registered a case against Suleman, Mustkeen and Mohammad Haroon under Sections 107 and 151 of the CrPC. Following the complaint, the police arrested the accused and produced them before a local court.

Giving details of the incident, the DSP said Haroon had gone to his neighbour’s residence and borrowed a bicycle a few days ago. On his way back, he was stopped by the accused, who believing that Haroon had stolen the bicycle thrashed him.

Refuting the allegations that ASI Tilak Raj demanded bribe, the DSP maintained that the assailants were trying to force a compromise, to which the other party refused. Finding themselves in a fix, they levelled false allegations against police officers.



Professor accuses architect of plagiarism
Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 20
A Professor in the Chandigarh College of Architecture has accused a renowned architect of the region of having plagiarised her work.

The Professor, Ms Kiran Joshi, has shot off a strongly-worded letter to the author, printer and publisher of a recently released book “Architectural Aesthetics”, alleging that portions of the book are a straight lift from an article she wrote last year.

The author accused of the crime is Mr Sangeet Sharma, whose father, Mr S.D. Sharma, is a highly respected architect.

In her letter, Ms Joshi has said that she realised that a large chunk of one of the articles in the book written by Mr Sangeet Sharma had been “lifted word for word” from one of her articles headlined ‘Heritage at risk’ that appeared in the Magazine section of The Tribune on August 22, 2004. She first came across the alleged piece of plagiarism in the July issue of Architecture + Design (A+D) magazine, which reviewed the book.

The offending article in the book that she refers to is “Le Corbusier as an Artist”. The book has been published by local Abhishek Publications.

“Thinking that some error may have crept in due to some mishandling in A+D’s office, I also checked up the original contents of the relevant chapter in your book. These, very unfortunately, were the same as those in the extract in A+D,” she tells Mr Sharma.

She also alleges that “a closer reading of the text makes it clear that an attempt has been made to evade the problems of copyright transgression by replacing/inserting an odd word here and there (though sometimes in a technically incorrect way”.

Ms Joshi also expresses concern over the fact that the footnotes give credit to another author (Mr Jeet Malhotra) for what is really her work. She has asked the author to clarify the mater with his publishers, withdraw all the books from the market till the time necessary amendments have been made in the book.

When contacted, Ms Joshi said she was unhappy with the deliberate plagiarism and professional misconduct. “I am not going to sit back till the issue is sorted out,” she said.

Despite repeated attempts, Mr Sangeet Sharma could not be contacted for his take on the controversy. His mobile was switched off throughout the day and staff at his Panchkula office said he was not well.



Khadi board CEOs meet to form policy
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 20
To co-ordinate the activities of various khadi boards in the Northern states and for evolving a common policy for employment generation, a meeting of all CEOs of the khadi boards of these states was held here today under the chairmanship of Mr Charanjit Singh Walia.

Issues pertaining to the revival of the old scheme of KVIC of direct financing at 4 per cent rate of interest, formulation of employment generation schemes supported by the state government, grant of facility of sales tax/VAT exemption to khadi and village industries products, quality improvement of products for sale in international market and inter-state marketing of products were discussed.

They also unanimously endorsed various other aspects pertaining to financial assistance for expansion, diversification, modernisation of existing units in rural areas and said the same should be implemented.

It was also resolved that the matter may be taken up with the KVIC to waive of up to Rs 5,000 in death cases or the cases of poor and downtrodden loanees.

A decision was also taken to hold such a meeting at the national level at Dehra Dun in February 2006. The next meeting of the Northern Zone will however, be held at Shimla in October 2005.

Meanwhile, they would also meet the Prime Minister and the Minister for Rural Industrialisation to boost the activities of khadi boards and discuss the difficulties and problems being faced by the boards. The Chairman was authorised to fix the date of meeting.



Ash, Salman tapes with CFSL
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 20
A team of Mumbai Police reached Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) in Chandigarh late today evening with voice recordings of Aishwarya Rai and Salman Khan.

The police had recorded the voices of the two stars last week.

The tapes have been sent to confirm whether the controversial conversation between them had actually taken place.



Animal welfare camp

Chandigarh, July 20
The Government Veterinary Hospital, Sector 38, is organising a free immunisation animal welfare camp at the hospital premises on July 23. The camp is an attempt by the hospital to encourage visits from residents owning pets and residing in the sectors of the vicinity.

“All pet owners take their animals for vaccination and treatment to the Sector 22 hospital which is over-burdened since it caters to the entire city. While we traditionally have catered to treatment of large animals, the doctors here can attend to pets as well. The camp is an attempt to showcase the facilities we have on offer,” said Dr Roopinder Toor, Veterinary Officer. The camp will be held from 8 am to 2 pm. TNS



Chain snatcher nabbed
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 20
A chain snatcher was nabbed here in Sector 23 today while he was attempting to make good with his loot.

The police said that with the nabbing of Raju, a resident of Sector 24, three cases of chain snatching had been worked out.

The incident took place at 1.45 pm when Gaurav, an MBA student, heard a woman crying for help outside his residence. Gaurav rushed out of his house to check out what it was and saw a man running and a woman shouting “chor”, “chor”. The woman, Ms Reeta, told Gaurav that the man had snatched her gold chain.

Gaurav started chasing the miscreant but slipped on the way. He saw someone coming down the street from the opposite direction and called him to nab the man running. Prem Singh, an employee of the Ranjit Sagar Dam, caught hold of the snatcher. The miscreant, in an effort to free himself from their grip, reportedly attacked them, resulting in injuries to Gaurav. Soon people gathered on the spot and called the police, which took the chain snatcher in its custody. A case was registered in this regard.

Gaurav admitted that it was due to the timely intervention of Mr Prem Singh that they were able to apprehend the accused.

Ms Reeta, a resident of Sector 16, was going to Government Model Senior Secondary School in Sector 23 to pick her son.

The police recovered the gold chain from the accused, which was broken with the impact of the pull.

The police recovered two gold chains from Raju, who disclosed to the police that he had snatched a gold chain from Sector 23 and another from Sector 22.

Raju will be produced before a local court tomorrow.



Three held on theft charges
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 20
The police arrested two persons on charge of stealing a motor cycle, while in a separate case, another person was arrested for allegedly committing a theft in the Industrial Area. Besides this, a car was stolen and a house was burgled in the city.

Police sources said, Hari Kumar of Sector 15 and Raju of Sector 16 were arrested for allegedly stealing a motor cycle. Mr Deepak Thakur, a resident of Naya Gaon alleged to the police that the accused had stolen his Hero Honda motor cycle (PB-27-B-5359) from Sector 10 in Chandigarh on Tuesday. The police then arrested the accused from Sector 8. The stolen motor cycle was recovered from their possession. A case has been registered.

In another incident, a servant was arrested on the charges of stealing. Mr Jaswant Singh of Sector 48-C lodged a complaint to the police alleging that his servant Porimal, a resident of Phase I, Industrial Area, had stolen aluminium and brass fitting articles from the plot he was accommodated during the night of July 18. The accused was later arrested from colony Number 4 and the stolen property was recovered from him. A case has been registered against him.

House burgled

Ms Poonam Sharma of Sector 51-A reported to the police that bathroom taps, a drill machine, cutter, hammer and other articles were stolen from her residence.

A case of theft and trespassing has been registered.

Car stolen

Mr Ajay Kumar of Phase XI Mohali lodged a complaint to the police that his Indica Car (CH-03-J-7434) was stolen from a parking lot in Sector 32 on July 18. A case of theft has been registered.

5 held for eve-teasing

The police arrested Inderjit Singh, Mohinder Singh, Rakesh Yadav, Amit and Shiv Raj, all residents of Chaman Colony, Dhanas, on the allegations of eve-teasing from Sector 10 on Tuesday. A case has been registered. They were later released on bail.



Low-cost mobile coupons hit market
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 20
Carpenters to car mechanics, plumbers to peasants — just almost everyone can go mobile these days — thanks to the introduction of low-value recharge coupons.

In an attempt to cash on the mobile craze, not just among the students, companies have increased the talk time and the validity of the coupons. Now, you can stay connected for a month by paying just Rs 200.

“Mobile companies in the region are aggressively expanding the market by lowering the monthly cost of staying mobile,’’ say market experts. This is a distinct enhancement of the earlier strategy where the companies reduced the entry barrier by offering attractive post-paid and pre-paid plans with various bundling offers like free phones etc.

Now, these are offering low-cost recharge coupons with a validity period of one month or even 11 days, they add.

Airtel, for instance, offers a Rs 200 recharge coupon with outgoing talk time of Rs 50 and free incoming calls. Mr Mandeep Bhatia, COO, Airtel, Punjab, said: “The Rs 200 recharge coupon was created following an extensive in-house research which indicated that there was a customer segment which basically used a mobile for incoming calls.

“By giving a validity of 30 days, the customer now just needs to recharge once a month. With the Rs 50 outgoing talk time, he is in a position to make emergency calls in case he needs to at any time or if he has to go suddenly out of the home circle and he does not get stranded.”

Hutch also has a similar plan.

Spice is the only player which has a recharge coupon of Rs 54 with a validity of 11 days. It also offers a special tariff plan called ‘Mini Talk’, which has a single second billing pulse, with local calls at 5 paise per second and the STD calls at 8 paise per second. If a subscriber recharges the mini talk plan with Rs 220 recharge coupon, he gets full talk time and a validity of 40 days.

Mr Mukul Khanna, DGM (Marketing), said: “This has been designed keeping in mind the low-end entry level consumer, who either uses it for meeting his emergency needs or receiving incoming calls.” This would help us in penetrating better in the rural markets, where people generally have low incomes, he added.

On the CDMA front, Reliance Infocomm offers prepaid recharge voucher for as low as Rs 149 with a validity of 30 days. This has no outgoing air time but a subscriber can make outgoing calls using top-up cards, which are available for Rs 100 onwards.

Reliance also has a post -paid plan called ‘Joy 99’ at a minimum monthly commitment of Rs 124. Explaining the logic, Mr Himanshu Kapania, CEO of Reliance Infocomm said: “The target consumer is the housewife, students, farmers and small and medium entrepreneurs.” Such low-end plans help in providing mobile connectivity at affordable monthly cost and also helps in making more and more people go mobile, he added.

The launch of the low cost recharge coupons has made a significant impact in the market. According to Mr Virat Anand of Zulu’s: “The low-cost recharge coupons are a hot favourite of the students and close friends tend to gift this to one another so that they remain connected at a minimal cost. Parents also prefer to buy these recharge coupons for their children so that they are able to stay in touch with them but at a very low fixed monthly cost.”

Mr Vivek Nijhawan of Three Vee Communication agrees with this but points out, “Apart from students, the service class segment has also taken to these recharge coupons in a big way. It has now become very easy and affordable for independent service providers for the home segment like electrician, carpenters etc. to keep a mobile so that they are available to their customers all the time.

“Their style of operation is that they make a missed call to their customer, who then calls them back. The low cost coupons are very good for them. However, what we have seen is that they prefer a recharge coupon that gives them some talk time for emergencies.”

Clearly mobile telephony is set for another phase of rapid expansion as mobile companies aggressively push forward innovative and customer-friendly schemes like these.



Meeting on facilities in Sector 17

Chandigarh, July 20
A high-level meeting, to spruce up the existing facilities and add new features to the market of Sector 17, was held today under the chairmanship of Mr Krishan Mohan, Home Secretary, here today.

The meeting was attended among others by Mr S.K. Sandhu, Finance Secretary and Mr P.S. Aujla, Commissioner of the Municipal Corporation, sources said.

The main issues under discussion included tiling of the entire market area, renovation of certain structures and cleanliness, besides others. TNS



Panchkula woman wins Alto in TV contest
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 20
A Panchkula resident has won a Maruti Alto car in TV show by SMSing the answers.

Talking to the Chandigarh Tribune from Mumbai, where she has gone to receive the award, housewife Anjana Pardeep Rana says she won the car in “Dial One Aur Jeeto” live on SaharaOne.

“The questions were not all that difficult. “They asked four questions. In the audio-visual round, I was asked to identify Ajit Agarkar. Then there was another question about a movie in which Shah Rukh Khan played a double role. I managed to answer the questions to bag the first position and the Alto car”, she added.

She adds, “It took some time for the feeling of exhilaration to sink in. As soon as I realised that I was the proud owner of a car thanks to the SMS. Her husband, a Sub Inspector (SI) in the Haryana Police”. Pardeep Rana initially thought Anjana was joking. The programme, “Dial One Aur Jeeto” is aired on SaharaOne from Monday to Thursday for an hour from 8 pm.


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