C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Bahl remains CTCC chief
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 4
Putting to rest all controversy, the All-India Congress Committee has reappointed Mr B.B. Bahl as president of the Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee, reliable sources said here today.

The post was being closely contested between the group backed by Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, local member of Parliament, and the other by Mr Bahl himself.

The name has been cleared by Mrs Sonia Gandhi, Congress President. Mr Chandermukhi, a TCC office-bearer, said:” The party has chosen a dedicated worker of the party who has helped reorganise the local unit paving the way for a victory in the parliamentary elections”.

The issue of presidentship had generated a lot of interest among the cadres as was evident from repeated visits of local leaders to the corridors of power in Delhi in the past over two months.

The names of Mr Subhash Chawla and Mr Ram Pal Sharma, both members of the Bansal group, were doing the rounds in political circles as possible alternative to the post of Mr Bahl.

Mr Bahl and Mr Bansal shared a very good rapport. Differences arose over Mr Devinder Babla rejoining the Congress in support of Mr Bansal. Mr Bahl maintained that Mr Babla had been thrown out of the party for anti-party activities. Mr Bansal stood his ground in support of Mr Babla.



Captain, two others held for assault
Tribune Reporters

Chandigarh, August 4
A serving Army Captain and his two friends, accused of assaulting and threatening a local advocate, were arrested by the Chandigarh Police late last night for criminal intimidation and other offences. An argument over a minor accident in a parking lot is being cited as the reason behind the incident.

The three accused were remanded in the judicial custody by a local court this morning even as a group of lawyers blamed the Chandigarh Police of not taking appropriate action against the accused.

The cops should have sought their police remand, instead of allowing the accused to be remanded in judicial custody, the protesting advocates asserted.

Giving details of the incident, sources said the row started around 10.30 pm outside Sher-e-Punjab Dhaba in Sector 35.

The Captain and his two friends were reportedly sitting in an Alto car when the vehicle brushed against an Esteem driven by advocate Kanwaljit Singh Bawa of Sector 42.

Arguments led to exchange of hot words, sources said. They added that the Captain and his friends, including a Panjab University student and a law graduate, took “law in their hands” resulting in the incident.

Sources added that an FIR was registered under Sections 324 and 506 of the IPC on the basis of a complaint filed by advocate Bawa.

A senior official of the Chandigarh Police further added that information about Captain’s arrest had been forwarded to the authorities concerned at Chandi Mandir in accordance with the requirements of law.

He said police remand of the accused was not sought as they were not required for the purpose of investigation. Moreover, nothing was to be recovered from them. He added that the police was looking into the matter.

Meanwhile, the District Bar Association, at a general body meeting, today demanded strict action against the Captain and his friends. Mr Arvind Thakur, an advocate, termed the registration of case under Sections 324 and 506 as “eyewash” and wanted that sections dealing with cases of “grievous hurt” should have been added.



Hawara’s custody a headache for cops
Saurabh Malik and Ramanjit Singh Sidhu

Chandigarh, August 4
Babbar Khalsa International’s alleged chief Jagtar Singh Hawara’s safe custody has become a headache for the police.

With the registration of several criminal cases against him in Delhi and other places of Punjab, he has to be taken out of Model Jail in Burail village every now and then.

Sources in the Police Headquarters admit that ferrying Hawara from one place to another will not be easy and without complications even though senior officers in the local police try to sound confident about the whole thing. In any case, they agree that the security will have to be “water tight” for preventing further escape attempts by the alleged militant.

Quoting an example, the sources say that approximately 16 police personnel, including a DSP and an Inspector of the Chandigarh police were deployed for taking Hawara to New Delhi on Thursday in connection with the twin blast case.

They say similar arrangements will have to be made by the police every time Hawara — also accused of being involved in the assassination of Punjab’s former Chief Minister Beant Singh — is to be taken out of the jail.

“We just cannot take chances. For, you cannot take lightly an outlaw capable of digging nearly a 100-foot long tunnel for escaping from a jail”, a senior officer admits. “You never know when he will throw dust in the eyes of the police and make good his escape”.

They insist that escape of alleged militants from police custody is not uncommon. Only recently, an alleged militant escaped from the custody of the Punjab police on the pretext of going to the loo. He was, subsequently, nabbed.

In another incident, certain alleged militants freed their accomplice, who had been admitted to the PGI after opening fire at the police almost two decades ago.

The sources say, the Chandigarh police will face another problem sooner or later. A notification issued by the UT Administration prohibits the taking out of accused in the Beant Singh assassination case from the jail premises.

The notification will either have to be amended or rescinded for accommodating Hawara’s court dates in other places. “Otherwise, the police will be violating the notification,” the sources assert, adding that Hawara will have to be lodged in the Jail only and not at any other place as the assassination case is going on here.

A senior police officer, meanwhile, said they were in favour of not taking Hawara out of the jail premises even for appearance in the Kharar court in connection with a case registered by the Punjab police.



Zirakpur powerless for 15 hours
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, August 4
Unscheduled power cut stretching over 15 hours put normal life out of gear here today. There had been no electricity in various housing colonies, apartments and villages that fall in Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat limits since last night.

Residents of the area had to pass sleepless nights in hot and humid weather. Most sufferers were the children, who fell easy prey to mosquitoes, as it was difficult to stay inside in such a humid weather in the absence of power.

The studies of students had been hit a great deal, they added. As most of the houses get water from tubewells that run on motors, residents were forced to draw water from shallow hand-pumps.

Power cuts have not only paralysed the normal life here, but also industrialists and other traders have been facing huge losses. They have to spend huge amounts on storing diesel for running their industrial units on generator sets.

Mr Prem Dutt, a resident of Govind Vihar Colony, Zirakpur, alleged that power situation had worsened for the past five days. Repeated complaints to the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) authorities had gone futile, he added.

Power cuts are never announced in advance, said Mr Jaswant Singh Saini, a resident of Bartana village.

The PSEB authorities were not available for comments.



Vital bridge on verge of collapse
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Bagwali (Panchkula), August 4
A vital bridge across the Baliyali river on National Highway- 73, connecting Chandigarh and Panchkula with Yamunanagar, Haridwar and beyond, is swaying dangerously, more than it normally should. The increased load of vehicles, has reportedly led to the loosening of expansion joints of this 35 -year- old structure, thus making the bridge to cause a rolling effect on vehicles crossing it.

For the past two months, commuters on this bridge have been feeling the bridge sway in a vertical direction whenever a vehicle passes. If a heavy vehicle happens to cross from the opposite direction, the movement is even more pronounced.

Officials in the Public Works Department (Bridges and Roads) confirm that the movement on the bridge has increased gradually and has become more pronounced over the past two months. They inform that the main reason for this is that bearing plates have worn off and the expansion joints of the bridge have loosened.

Though the officials maintain that this 90 metre long bridge is safe, it is learnt that most of the six expansion joints (also called as span joints) on this bridge need immediate repair to save the structure. The grant for repair of the bridge has not been sanctioned by the Ministry of Road Transport and National Highways, thus holding up the repair work.

Officials say that even as they wait for grant to repair of the bearing plates and expansion joints, they have decided to carry on minor repair work on the cracks by micro-concreting the bridge, at an estimated cost of RS 85,000. The work, they say, will start on Saturday, and will be completed by August 12. The bridge will be closed down during this period, and alternate diversions have been planned.

Officials agree that the heavy load of vehicles on this bridge has added to the weakening of expansion joints. According to the traffic census of the bridge, over 20,000 vehicles, mostly heavy vehicles, pass over the bridge on an average each day.

“The structure is almost 35 years old. The life of these expansion joints is generally 25-30 years, and they have now outlived their utility,” informs a senior official.

Alternative routes

The National Highways division of the PWD, Haryana, has earmarked alternative routes on the National Highway 73 from August 6-12. The heavy vehicles will have to take a 23 km detour from Mauli village to Chajju Majra and back on the Highway near Shahzadpur village. For the light vehicles like cars and jeeps, a small detour has been planned between the two link roads of Golpura village. A second alternate route for light vehicles has been planned via villages of Tharwa, Samanwa and Sadakpur.



1.65 lakh assessees file IT return
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 4
Despite a hike in the income tax limit to Rs 1 lakh by the Union Finance Ministry, the number of income tax assessees is on the rise in the city and adjoining areas, with nearly 1.65 lakh persons filing their returns by August 1.

IT assessees can file returns by March 31, 2006. An interest @15% per annum will be levied at the tax amount on the returns filed till March next year. However, after March a penalty of Rs 5,000 can be levied on income tax payers under the Income Tax Act, 1961, the officials said.

The areas falling under the Commissioner of Income Tax-I (CIT-I) have registered an increase of about 10,000 from 40,000 to 50,000, CIT-I, Ms P Shahi, told Chandigarh Tribune here today.

There has been an increase in the number of returns from all three ranges with Range I comprising areas from Sector 1 to 25 reporting 16,000 returns as against 13,000 returns till September last year.

Similarly, Range II, which covers the Industrial Area (I and II) reported 18,250 returns as against 15,300 returns last year. For Range III comprising Mani Majra area, the figure this year was 15,850 as against 11,760 last year.

However, there has been a slight decline in the number of returns received from areas falling under the jurisdiction of CIT-II which covers the rest of Chandigarh not covered by Range I, Mohali and Ropar district.

The figure from CIT-II is reported at about 1.15 lakh till August 1.

However, the department hopes to achieve last year’s figure since a number of income tax payers filed returns well after the deadline.

The 1.65 lakh figure is creditable since the income tax limit has been raised from Rs 60,000 to Rs 1 lakh this year and a large number of persons with income below Rs 1 lakh may not have filed the returns, sources said.

It may be recalled that CIT-I had received about 40,000 returns till September last year. On the other hand, about 1.5 returns were received from CIT-II last year.

Meanwhile, the income tax payers missing the deadline can also file returns till March next year. A tax @15% will be levied on the net tax payable.



Passing Thru

Jan Ucen, Marketing Executive, Windsor Institute, Sydney Jan Ucen, Marketing Executive, Windsor Institute, Sydney

What is the purpose of your visit to India?

I have come here to look for students interested in getting education in Australia as the country is good for educational purposes. We are going to give an opportunity to students to change their lives but would like to get only good quality students.

Which cities have you visited to enroll students?

I have been to Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Amritsar, Karnal and Yamunanagar. Sixtysix students have been enrolled so far. Seminars are being held by us in this regard. The aim is to introduce Australian education in India and we are targeting only those students who are interested in going to Australia. We want to give good quality college education to students. We are looking for students not only in India, but in Indonesia, Malaysia and Europe as well.

How did you like India?

It’s my first visit to the country, India is a very interesting and impressive country having different cultures. I have been to the Golden Temple in Amritsar and found the culture very strong in the city.

— Kulwinder Sangha



Child suffers as ‘Blazeflash’ fails to deliver
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 4
The extent to which courier companies can go to make a “fast buck” caring too hoots for consumers can be gauged from the experience of a local resident who not only lost the parcel of goodies, but also had to face harassment of the Delhi-based national courier “Blazeflash” that has several offices in the city.

The officials of the company kept insisting that the parcel had been delivered and they even produced a ‘forged’ delivery receipt in support of their claim.

After The Tribune highlighted the incident along with some other cases, where courier companies had taken the consumers for a ride, the franchise of Blazeflash at Chandigarh, Asian Enterprises, Panchkula (through which the parcel had been booked), washed its hands of the matter and held the company solely responsible for failure to deliver the parcel sent to a school student at a Dalhousie boarding school by her Mani Majra-based parents.

The local company officials, too, passed on the responsibility to the Delhi corporate office. Once pressure from the parents mounted, Blazeflash Chandigarh area manager, Mr Kishore Montoo, supplied the parents with a ‘forged’ delivery list that bore the signatures of one ‘Sumita’.

After dozens of calls to the company, Mr Gurung of the Blazeflash franchise and owner of M/s Kakira Express, Chamba who claimed to have delivered the parcel and even to the delivery man, Munna, it became apparent that the company was trying to take the consumer for a ride.

All through the month, Blazeflash state in charge, Mr Pankaj Mehra, kept telling the parents that they had deputed one Mr Ajay Saini from their Pathankot office to go to Dalhousie to make an enquiry. A week ago, the company’s manager-customer care, Ms Leena Roy, called the parents to tell them that the matter would be soon sorted out.

Even after the school principal at Dalhousie confirmed that the signatures on the “delivery statement” did not belong to anyone at the school, Blazeflash Courier Limited refused to admit that it had ‘forged’ the delivery statement.

While the drama continued for over a month, the recipient of the parcel (student) continued to be reprimanded at school as the parcel contained items of her school uniform, besides other contents.

It was on July 4 when the parcel was booked. Finally today, the company sent a letter to the parents admitting that the parcel had been lost. The letter bearing reference number BFC LR 2005 reads: “We have cross-checked from the destination and come to know that the aforesaid consignment is not delivered to the consignee. We presume the consignment has got lost from our concerned delivery counterpart. We shall investigate into the matter thoroughly from the concerned counterpart and if proved, appropriate action shall definitely be taken against M/s Kakira Enterprise, Chamba.”

Commenting on the letter, the mother of the student said: “Private courier companies are exploiting the sentiments of consumers looking for a ‘reliable’ and ‘efficient’ delivery system. People should know how private courier companies are fooling consumers. It is after a great struggle and making hundreds of phone calls that the company has admitted that the parcel has been lost.”

The parents are now contemplating legal action.



Stamp paper shortage in Mohali, Kharar
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, August 4
Even as Congress President Sonia Gandhi has suggested the phasing out of stamp papers, there has been an acute shortage of stamp papers across Ropar.

While officials at the office of Financial Commissioner (Revenue), Punjab, showed complete ignorance of any such shortage saying that they have not even received a complaint in this regard, local treasury officers admitted that the stock of small denomination stamp papers had finished.

Residents of Mohali and Kharar complained that stamp paper vendors in Mohali, Kharar and Ropar were not issuing stamp papers of small denomination. Consumers are forced to buy stamp paper of larger denominations.

When Chandigarh Tribune team visited the office of the SDM, Mohali, it was found that stamp papers of Rs 5, 10 and 20 denominations have not been available for the past 15 days. The minimum denomination of which stamp papers are available was Rs 50.

Even for statements and deeds where stamp paper worth Rs 5 or 10 would suffice, the residents are forced to buy a stamp paper worth Rs 50.

One of the stamp vendors in Mohali told Chandigarh Tribune that the treasury office at Kharar, that supplied them with stamp papers, did not have any stamp papers of small denomination.

The Treasury Officer, Kharar, Mr Kuldip Singh, said the entire stock of small denomination stamp papers had finished. Since they got their supplies from Ropar, the shortage was being generated there, he added.

The Treasury Officer, Ropar, Mr Rajesh Kumar, said there was a shortage of stamp paper, but there were enough adhesive stamps available with the treasury which would be immediately issued to the stamp vendors.

He said a team from Punjab had left for the Indian Security Press, Nasik, Maharashtra, to fetch stamp papers, but it seemed they had got delayed due to incessant rain.

Mr Tarlochan Singh Bhatia, Treasury Officer, Ludhiana, which is the nodal point from where stamp papers are sent to various district headquarters to be distributed in various blocks, said there was no scarcity of stamp papers since the district treasury officers had large stocks of adhesive stamps which should be used to bridge the gap.

“Adhesive stamps are the same as stamp papers, the only difference is these are stuck on a plain paper and signed by the stamp paper vendor when these are issued. Our team would be coming back from Maharashtra in a week,” he said.

However, consumers are not satisfied using adhesive stamps. “Mohali stamp vendors have been issued adhesive stamps in the denomination of Rs 5 each. But instead of making these available to us, the vendors would stick three of these stamps together on a piece of a paper and sell these for Rs 16 (including the cost of the papers). The problem is still not solved,” said Mr R.S. Bains, a resident of Phase VII.



A road which brings shame to City Beautiful
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 3
Commuters on the road dividing Sectors 31 and 32, heading to Phase X and XI, of Mohali, expose themselves to a great risk while travelling on this road daily.

It is virtually impossible for vehicles to move in a straight line as some stretches on the road are full of potholes and broken at many places. Some of the pits are more than 3 feet long and deep enough to cause a serious accident. Seeing the condition of this road, it is difficult to believe that the road is part of one of the most well-planned cities of the country!

After crossing the roundabout at Sectors 48 and 49, one can see that the edge of the road has been washed away with deep gullies and ditches. (see picture).

The situation deteriorates every year in the rainy season when the road becomes inundated with water and it gets difficult to judge the potholes. This monsoon many parts of the road have been washed away, and what is left are pebbles and uneven, bumpy stretches.

The rough patch starts from the roundabout of Sectors 29, 30, 31 and 32. From this point on, the real test of driving starts. The condition of the road near the small roundabout of Sectors 31 and 32 is pitiable. Here the stretch has lots of uneven brims and perilous ruts. This “arduous journey” continues till the crossing of Sectors 46, 47, 48 and 49, where again the condition of the road causes at least two accidents each day.

The heavy vehicle traffic here is also responsible for the bad condition of the road. For heavy vehicular traffic, a new road was laid from the Tribune Chowk to Sectors 47 and 48 dividing roads but it has still not been opened for them.

As many educational institutions are located on the road and vicinity, the heavy vehicles are proving to be a nuisance for students and other users.

The road is in dire need of repair. Are the authorities listening?



Nominated councillor in soup
MC staff say he abused SE
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 4
Nominated councillor PC Sanghi landed himself in a soup here today as he abused and misbehaved with a Superintending Engineer at the Municipal Corporation office.

In protest, employees of the MC went on a flash strike and passed a resolution, saying “Salesmen, beggars and PC Sanghi not allowed in the Municipal Corporation”.

The incident occurred when Mr Sanghi reached the office of the SE (Public Health), Mr Swaran Singh, to find out the status of a tubewell to be installed at the Terrace Garden.

“I told him that the tubewell had been sanctioned a year back and work allotted three months back. However, instead of giving me a satisfactory response, he started dilly-dallying. I just walked out in a huff after telling him that he wasn’t doing his duty,” Mr Sanghi said.

However, the employees contradicted his version and said in the presence of some employees who were in Mr Swaran Singh’s room, the councillor used filthy language and even threatened the officer.

“The SE is due to retire in a month. Mr Sanghi categorically stated that he would ensure Mr Swaran Singh did not retire gracefully. This is not the first time that Mr Sanghi has behaved thus. In the past, he has abused the executive of the employees union, quarrelled with fellow councillors and has been reprimanded at meetings of the House for unparliamentary language.

“He gets away with merely apologising. This time round, he has targeted our officer and we will not tolerate it,” the president of the employees Union said.

After the incident, the staff went on strike and a meeting of the union was held. The members passed a resolution stating “Salesmen, beggars and PC Sanghi are not allowed in the Municipal Corporation”.

They also decided to form a chain outside the MC office tomorrow to bar Mr Sanghi’s entry. “We met the Commissioner, MC, to lodge our protest and will make an appeal to the Administration to cancel his nomination”.

Defending his stance, Mr Sanghi explained that he only raised valid points with officers that would benefit the public at large. “I raise genuine demands. If this results in aggrieved officers, I can’t help it. I did not abuse or misbehave with anybody. This strike by the employees is instigated and was pre-planned,” he maintained.



300 UT retirees to get pension benefits
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 4
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs has decided to pay pension benefits on the notional pay fixed on the basis of the Punjab pattern to all those who have retired between January 1986 and March 1991. The order would benefit around 300 retirees.

Around 200 retirees have already approached the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) seeking relief.

On the basis of a CAT judgment of Mr H.S. Dogra and others, the ministry conveyed the decision on July 29 to the UT Finance Secretary, Mr S.K. Sandhu. The Chandigarh Administration has further intimated the departments concerned about the orders.

During the course of the hearing in a recent case in the tribunal, the Finance Secretary through an affidavit stated that the Chandigarh Administration had no powers to extend such benefit and it was the Central Government which could grant the sanction as done in Mr H.S. Dogra’s case. He had stated that the Ministry of Finance vide a letter dated January 11, 2005, had advised that in such judgments writ petitions be filed.

In the light of the advice of the Central Government, the Chandigarh Administration had stated that it was filing SLPs in such cases.

During the course of a contempt hearing, the tribunal had directed the concerned Secretary in the Union Government to comply with the orders, failing which he had been asked to appear in person or file an affidavit for non-compliance of the orders.

The tribunal, after hearing a bunch of applications over the past few years, had ordered the Chandigarh Administration to pay the pension benefits to the employees. While in some cases the relief was given, the administration refused to pay the relief in other cases and the applicants filed contempt cases in the tribunal against the Finance Secretary, Chandigarh, Mr S.K. Sandhu.

There were around 300 employees of the Chandigarh Administration, who retired between January 1986 and March 1991.

The background of the issue is that the applicants had gone to the tribunal seeking pay arrears of such pension and other benefits, depending upon re-fixation of their pension with effect from April 1, 1991, onwards. Under a notification of January 13, 1991, the administration gave them an option for pay scales other than pay scales on the Punjab pattern. In case of failure to exercise the option, it was deemed that they accept being placed under scales of pay as available to employees of Punjab.

It was specified in the notification that if by revision of pay scales from January 1986, they were shown to be getting higher pay and allowances as already received by them between January 1986 and March 1991, their pay was only to be notionally fixed on the revised scale of pay but actual benefits in form of arrears of difference of pay and allowances were not to be extended to them. 



Nobody cares about this unsafe bridge
Tribune News Service

Mohali, August 4
The authorities concerned seem to be waiting for an accident to happen. A bridge in the Phase IX residential area has over the months lost its railings to thieves.

Residents living nearby who use the bridge most often have complained to the authorities, but they have not been able to move anyone out of bureaucratic lethargy. “We have complained to almost everyone of the officers here. Starting with the Municipal Council Engineer, the SHO police station, Phase VIII, the DSP and the SP Mohali, and the Additional Chief Administrator, Mohali PUDA, but no one has listened to us,” said Mr Darshan Singh, of the Phase IX Residents Welfare Society.

The bridge is built across a seasonal rivulet that passes through Mohali near the PCA stadium. It is in the midst of a residential area. “Children cross the bridge to go to the park across the bridge so many times a day. Without any railings, it is extremely unsafe for them. Thieves have probably stolen these over the past few years,” said Mr Gaurav, a resident of the area. This was one of the oldest bridges in Mohali. “A little rain and the water starts overflowing since there is a lot of wild growth under the bridge which is never weeded out,” he said.

Mr Malwinder Singh, Vice-President of the society said the railings had been removed on purpose. “Many persons are seen mining the sand from the rivulet bed and the railings come in the way. These have been removed to facilitate mining,” he said.



Delimitation panel meeting put off again
Our Correspondent

Mohali, August 4
A meeting of the Delimitation Committee, constituted in connection with the forthcoming municipal elections in the town, has once again been indefinitely postponed. It is alleged that the Kharar MLA has played a role in getting it postponed.

The meeting was scheduled to be held on August 8 in the office of the Deputy Director, Urban Local Bodies, Ludhiana. According to a letter received by the office of the Municipal Council here today, the meeting was postponed till further orders due to administrative reasons.

A meeting of the Delimitation Committee was earlier fixed by the SDM, Mr M.L. Sharma, for March 4 but was cancelled at the last minute in view on the Indo-Pakistan Test match held here on March 8.

The 12-member Delimitation Committee was constituted by the Governor for the purpose of delimitation of municipal wards in the town. A notification in this regard was issued on February 3 by the Principal Secretary, Government of Punjab, Department of Local Government, Mr B.R. Bajaj. Out of 12 members on the committee, five are municipal councillors.

Even while the municipal elections are due this year, not a single meeting of the committee has taken place so far. The term of the present elected body expires in the last week of November.

It is alleged by some councillors that the meeting of the Delimitation Committee was postponed twice because the Kharar MLA, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, was allegedly trying to create a hurdle. He was allegedly doing so because he wanted to have two persons of his choice as members of the committee.

When contacted, Mr Bir Devinder Singh said he was not aware that the meeting of the Delimitation Committee had been postponed. He said he had no role in fixing the meeting or getting it postponed.

He, however, said he had objection to the constitution of the committee as he had not been consulted in this regard even when he was the MLA of the area.

He said he had brought this matter to the notice of the Punjab Chief Minister. The Chief Minister had then issued directions for the reconstitution of the panel. He wondered why the directions of the Chief Minister had not been implemented by the Department of Local Government.

He questioned the authority of the officials of the Local Government Department to fix the meeting, and that, too, in the office of the Deputy Director at Ludhiana.

“Why should officers from Mohali go to Ludhiana to attend the meeting”, he asked.

I will not allow vested interests to succeed as Mohali has already suffered a lot”, he added.



Kanwarias’ annual pilgrimage concludes at Saketri
Gayatri Rajwade
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 4
The faith is unswerving. As the piety-filled night draws to a close, so does the annual pilgrimage undertaken by the Kanwarias to the Shiv Mandir at Saketri. Amidst sounds of prayers, invocations and offerings of Kanwars (Ganga Jal), which began on August 3 at 2:10 am, the arduous sojourn from Hardwar and for some as far as Goumukh, ended yesterday.

The last few days saw a sea of saffron converging on the city in preparation of the final prayers with a steady flow of Kanwarias, so called because of the Kanwar or pole they carry on their shoulders with covered pots balanced on two ends. Festively decorated with gaudy gold and silver paper, vibrant streamers and portraits of Shiv and Parvati, the Kanwars, shaped like bows, pots and square boxes, lined the roads going first to the Mansa Devi temple at Panchkula and then to the Shiva Mandir at Saketri.

According to Ramesh Gautam, general secretary of the Saketri Shiva Mandir, elaborate arrangements were made to welcome the devotees. “More than 2,500 followers converged. A DJ with a sound system playing religious songs invoking Shivji, and a langar to feed the devout was set up. We played spiritual movies the whole night and prayers and offerings of Kanwar were made to Lord Shiva.”

Come Shravan, the auspicious monsoon months of July and August, for almost 20 days normal life is disrupted on the highways and since tradition has it that the water pots should not touch the ground till the time of consecration, charitable organisations put up make-shift stands for the pots to be kept. The journey has taken on a new vigour in the last few years and an estimated 60 lakh kanwarias trekked to Hardwar, Gangotri and Gaumukh last year.

The trail, made on foot, takes one week from here to Hardwar and up to 14-15 days to Gaumukh. Rampal, a vegetable-seller living in Indira Colony, says he has been doing this for five years now, “I am called by the Lord and I go, it is a matter of faith.”

Tarachand, a policeman in the city, has been collecting kanwar for 16 years now. He went up to Hardwar walking almost 75 km in a day! Rakesh, also from the city, headed a group of 60 men and 20 women, said the ‘movement’ is enormous now with almost 1.5 lakh kanwars being lifted each day during these 20 days from Hardwar.

One of the youngest devotees was five-year-old Sonu, clad in saffron shirt and white dhoti, who made the trip with his father. “I went because my father said so,” was the unfussy reply.

According to Hindu mythology, when the churning of the oceans-Samudra Manthan-took place in the month of Shravan, 14 different types of rubies came out. Thirteen of these were distributed amongst the demons, except Halahal (poison). Lord Shiva drank the Halahal and stored it in his throat. Hence the name Neelkanth (blue throat) is attributed to Shiva. To reduce the strong effect of the poison, all Gods started offering water from the Ganga to Shiva, to lessen the effect of the poison. Since this happened in the month of Shravan, Shiva devotees offer water, drawn from the Ganges, to Shiva temples across the country.



Town’s first working women’s hostel
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, August 4
Women from outside the township no longer need to look for paying guest accommodation or get hassled with landlords. Thanks to Bhartiya Grameen Mahila Sangh, the district got its first working women’s hostel in Sector 10 today.

The hostel was inaugurated by the Governor of Haryana, Dr A.R. Kidwai, who is also president of the sangh. Dedicating the hostel to working women, Dr Kidwai exhorted the women to go in for higher studies, as literacy alone would help them become aware of their rights and thus help in nation-building.

The hostel can accommodate 100 women and also has a daycare centre for 30 children. A library, dining hall, recreation room have also been constructed. Mrs Amrit Sehgal, vice-president of the Bhartiya Grameen Mahila Sangh, said the idea behind a day-care centre was that single working mothers could leave their children behind, without any apprehensions.

Though the hostel will accommodate women from urban as well as rural areas, preference will be given to rural women, said Ms. Trina Mitra, organising secretary of the sangh. “While urban women are street smart, the hostel will be a safe home away from home for rural working women.”

The hostel is spread over an area of 1. 25 acres, and has 25 dormitories. Each dormitory can house four women, while there are two rooms on a twin sharing basis. The monthly rent in the hostel is Rs 1,000. The building has been constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 80 lakh, of which Rs 31 lakh w ere sanctioned by the Government of India.

“In the second phase, we propose to construct independent rooms with attached bathrooms for women who are economically well off,” informs MS Sehgal.

The Sangh, which is a voluntary welfare organisation, was established in Haryana in 1979, under the presidentship of the then Governor’s wife, Ms H.S. Brar. The organisation aims at upliftment of rural women by teaching various economic activities at its 29 craft centres and three training centres in Haryana. 



Boy’s drowning: Jain blames MC, Admin
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 4
“The death of the 13-year old boy who drowned during the torrential rain yesterday is a slur on the face of the Chandigarh Administration and the Municipal Corporation”, said Mr Satya Pal Jain, former member of Parliament, in a press note here today.

“It has become obvious that the ruling officers of the city and the MCC are unconcerned about water- logging on roads and in houses. No lessons have been learnt from previous years, nor the unprecedented rain in Mumbai this year”, Mr Jain said.

The national convener of the BJP said: “Roads in various parts of the city are in a pitiable condition. All claims about recarpeting have proved hollow. “A meeting of a sub-committee of the MCC yesterday could not be held because of lack of quorum, which shows how interested the in-power group is in the welfare of the residents of the city.”

Mr Jain has demanded a high-level inquiry into the life in the city being thrown out of gear because of the rainfall yesterday for just two hours.

Earlier during the day, he visited the family of the boy who was drowned.



Getting SC/ST certificate may be easy
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 4
There is good news for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in the city who have been facing harassment in getting an SC/ST certificate due to a tedious procedure.

To a query on the issue raised in Parliament by a Member of Parliament, Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, the Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, Ms Meira Kumar, said it would examine the Delhi Government’s amended orders regarding issuing of SC/ST certificates and replicate the same for Chandigarh.

Talking to Chandigarh Tribune over the phone, Mr Bansal said after a similar notification was issued for Chandigarh, the Dalits in the city would be able to get the certificate subject to the fulfillment of certain conditions. At present, the members of the SC/ST who settled in Chandigarh after November 1, 1966, have to procure documentary proof from their original place of migration stating that they belong to the SC/ST category.

Mr Bansal pointed out that city residents had migrated from different places after the city was carved out and it was difficult for the people to get the proof who had migrated about 30 years ago.

As a result of the cumbersome procedure, most applicants are unable to get the certificate. The Dalit population comprises 17 per cent of the total city population.



LPG fire: 2 succumb to burns
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, August 4
After struggling for life for over five days, Mr Rajesh Kumar, alias Shalu, and his employee Mr Raju succumbed to their injuries in the PGI, Chandigarh, here today.

The two had sustained severe burn injuries when they were pilfering liquid petroleum gas (LPG) from cylinders and the leaked gas caught fire on Sunday morning. The incident had occurred at an unauthorised LPG godown, located in a densely populated locality, just opposite the Lohgarh police post.

The bodies were handed over to the respective families after post-mortem examination.

Mr Rajesh Kumar, a resident of Ekta Vihar Colony in Bartana, and Raju were injured when the latter ignited a match stick for smoking after refilling some cylinders and the gas caught fire.



MLA asks SP to act against 2 cops

Mohali, August 4
The Kharar MLA, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, has demanded action against two police personnel for not intervening to stop two girls from beating a person at PCL chowk here today.

According to information, a man on a bicycle allegedly collided with the two girls. The two girls caught hold of him and started beating him in the middle of the chowk, which led to a traffic disruption.

The MLA who happened to pass that way witnessed the incident. He saw that the two policemen on duty at the chowk had failed to intervene. He has asked the SP to take action against the two cops. OC



Vivek Atray invited by Goa Govt
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 4
The Government of Goa has invited the Director, Information Technology, Chandigarh Administration, Mr Vivek Atray, to make a presentation before the Chief Minister and his Cabinet on August 5, 2005 at Panjim, an official press note said here today.

The presentation will be about various policies of the Chandigarh Administration, including special economic zone (SEZ) policy, IT and IT-enabled services policy, e-Sampark, Jan Sampark and the Chandigarh – training on soft skills (C-TOSS).

Mr Atray will interact with the Chief Secretary and other senior officers of Goa.



Improve power supply: BJP
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, August 4
The State Treasurer of the BJP, Mr Gian Chand Gupta has criticised the Haryana Government for failing to fulfil the basic needs of electricity and water. He said eversince the Congress government took over the reigns of the state, the condition of electricity had deteriorated.

He said people in villages were facing power cuts ranging from 12 - 20 hours a day, while industry is on the verge of closure because of unscheduled power cuts.

He demanded that steps to taken to improve the power supply in the state.



Three thefts reported
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, August 4
Three incidents of thefts were reported in the past 24 hours. In separate incidents, the local police arrested one person on a theft charge and another for carrying liquor illegally.

Ms Ranvant Kaur, a resident of the nursing hostel in General Hospital, Sector 16, lodged a complaint with the police alleging that a Sony Music system, two electric irons and other articles were stolen from her room. She told the police that she was away since July 25 and noticed the theft on her arrival on August 3.

In another incident, Mr Piare Lal of Phase I, Ram Darbar, reported to the police that jewellery and other articles worth Rs 40,000 were stolen from his residence yesterday.

Mr M.P. Singh of Phase II, Ram Darbar, alleged that aluminium scrap cut pieces, among other articles, were stolen from his plot during the night of August 2.

Held for stealing: The local police arrested Surinder, a resident of Kajheri on the allegation of stealing brass taps from a factory plot in Phase II, Industrial Area. The police has registered a case.

Liquor seized: The local police arrested Kishore of Phase I, Ram Darbar, from near Balmiki Ashram while carrying seven bottles of liquor illegally.


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