C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S

Party banners fly high during the campaign for elections to the Panjab University Campus Students Council in Chandigarh
Party banners fly high during the campaign for elections to the Panjab University Campus Students Council in Chandigarh on Wednesday.

Girls take the lead in the PUSU car rally at Panjab University for the election of Campus Students Council
Girls take the lead in the PUSU car rally at Panjab University for the election of Campus Students Council on Wednesday.
— Tribune photos by Manoj Mahajan

Poll din ends
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, August 31
The drive to garner votes reached its intensity today, the last day of canvassing for election of the Campus Students Council. Election colours, honking of horns and sloganeering also registered a high note. All this gave the much-needed colour and spice to the campaign, which had so far remained sluggish.

What added glamour to the campaign were girls in jeeps and cars, driving around the campus with blaring music. This attracted the attention of many. Activists of various student unions went to the lecture rooms of various departments in the hope of securing the support of students.

The car rallies of Panjab University Students Union (PUSU) and Students Organisation of Panjab University (SOPU) added zing on the campus. Big cars like Mercedes, Elantra, Lancer, Toyata and Safari and small cars could be spotted today.

Interestingly, it was a lucky day for the patrol station of Sector 15 where activists of various students unions went to fill petrol in their vehicles.

Trying to be different, Indian National Student Organisation (INSO) held a peace march on the campus. The Students Federation of India held a flag march on the campus on foot also drew a good response today.

The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) in alliance with the Haryana Students Association (HSA) limited its campaigning to the classrooms and hostels only.

Ankita Thakur, PUSU activist, said, “We had real fun today and we made a lot of geris which were thrilling.”


Nominations filed, list out today

Dean Students Welfare, Nirmal Singh informed that various students have filed their nominations for elections of Campus Students Council scheduled for September 3.

He said that the scrutiny was done and a tribunal meeting was held in the evening to discuss related formalities. Objections and withdrawal of papers will be done tomorrow.

The final list of candidates will be displayed tomorrow. He also affirmed that it was the last day canvassing today.



Lending glamour to PU poll
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

SOPU activists take out a car rally at Panjab University for elections to the Campus Students Council
SOPU activists take out a car rally at Panjab University for elections to the Campus Students Council on Wednesday.

INSO in alliance with HPSU tries to impress the students by holding a peace march on campus
INSO in alliance with HPSU tries to impress the students by holding a peace march on campus on Wednesday. — Tribune photos by Manoj Mahajan

Chandigarh, August 31
Jeans rolled up to the knees, small tops revealing a wee bit of those flat tummies and chic pink glasses offering a glimpse of deep dark eyes. If you haven’t seen the charmers of the world cast a spell over the voters, just drive down to Panjab University and other college campuses. It’s glamour all the way to the students’ body.

With electioneering coming to an end, everywhere you look, you will discover winning damsels in low-rise denims teamed with alluring tees holding placards and banners in fair translucent hands.

Their silky brown highlighted tresses with golden and burgundy streaks, glittering in the afternoon sun’s not-so-direct rays, dazzle the onlookers as they walk down from one department to another, baiting the silver hook.

A bewitching smile plays on their thin captivating lips as they ask the willing victims, in the voice of the tempter, to exercise the franchise in favour of their candidates during the poll slated to be held on September 3.

The reason behind their participation in the campaigning is not hard too. “Glamour makes all the difference. No doubt about it. Here in PU, you wouldn’t find rath yatras, Gandhi caps and khadi kurtas. After all, students are involved in the entire process. It is democracy of the young, for the young and by the young,” says an English Department student.

Explaining the trend, he asserts, “If political parties can field actors and actresses at the national level during the Lok Sabha elections, why can’t the students request pretty dames to muster support for them during the poll? I am sure there is nothing wrong in it. In fact, some of the smart candidates stand a better chance of winning because of the same reason.”

Otherwise also, in the absence of hard issues and clear-cut political ideology, some candidates are largely depending upon the charms and the winning ways of their supporters to emerge victorious in the elections, the student claims.

Clarifying his stand, the student adds, “No, the candidates do not use them as baits to hook the gullible students. But simply seek their support to win the elections, besides throwing free-for-all parties in fast food joints and restaurants all over the city.”

Among the canvassers is under-grad Tamana Chauhan in Chandigarh, all the way from Delhi to do a course in home science and sociology. Tapping a table in a college canteen with ivory chiselled fingers, she tilts her head just a little bit before saying, “Oh, I make it a point to dress up gorgeously before leaving the cool comfort of the college hostel to campaign for a friend of mine”.

She says, “I also travel in an open left-hand-drive jeep with other supporters. It’s fun and full of glamour.” That’s the way it is folks.

Speeches are boring

Long speeches are B.O.R.I.N.G. No wonder, a political party came out with a novel plan for luring the young voters ready to cut footloose to the beat of thumping music on polished dance floors of a discotheque.

Instead of organising rallies and public meetings, its members threw a party in a famous discotheque on August 24. Though the organisers tried to justify the holding of the bash by describing it as a freshers’ party, the rivals were critical of the move.



College students lend colour

City colleges, too, registered a crest of colourful campaigning for the College Students Council and students filed their nominations.

In the Government College for Girls, Sector 42, it reached a crescendo. Girls, enthused with the ongoing election fervour, outdid the university campaign by mobilising crowds and canvassing with additional zing. Voter’s cards were issued to students. This will help avoid confusion.

MCM DAV College, Sector 36, provided an exceptional poll scenario. The candidates in the fray are not backed by any student union. All are independents. For the post of president two contestants — Aamiya and Meenakshi — are in the battle. For the vice-president three, for secretary five and for joint secretary 11 contestants are in the fray.

Posters pasted on the trees and walls on the campus signalled that the college had started humming with poll activities. Poll stickers found a place on jeans and T-shirts of students. Another innovation was the ‘poll bands’ worn by eager students on their wrists.

Claiming that no student body of Panjab University had a say on the college campus, Ms Puneet Bedi, Principal, said the college was aloof from party politics.

At the Government College for Girls, Sector 11, canvassing picked up as elections finally will be held here.

Lively campaigning was the hallmark of the Dev Samaj College for Women, Sector 45, today. The candidates addressed voters and put forward their poll agenda.

At DAV College, Sector 10, four student bodies are in the fray — the Students Organisation of Panjab University (SOPU), Panjab University Students Union (PUSU), Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and Indian National Students Organisation (INSO) — which did vigorours canvassing.

From SD College, Sector 36, PUSU and SOPU have fielded their candidates.



Sept 3 working day at PU
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, August 31
The Panjab University authorities have announced that the coming Saturday on September 3 will be a working day as polling will be held on this day to the Campus Students Council. Student unions are complaining that because of this decision less voting is expected this time. Many of the student leaders are estimating that out of a total of 7,500 votes, only 4,000 votes are likely to be cast. They are saying that most of the students will leave the campus on Friday on weekend.

Amandeep Singh, presidential candidate of the Panjab University Students Union (PUSU), said, “Only those will come on Saturday, who are committed to their favourite candidates. Many of the hostelers are planning to leave the campus on Thursday only”.

The Indian National Students Organisation (INSO) was also of the opinion that the voting percentage will be quite less.



Who is HPSU backing?

Chandigarh, August 31
There is confusion over the alliance of the Himachal Pradesh Students Union (HPSU). The Students Organisation of Panjab University (SOPU) and Indian National Students Organisation (INSO) both claimed that they had the support of HPSU.

Dalveer Singh Goldy, presidential candidate said, “HPSU was always with us and it was the rumour that it had an alliance with INSO spread by a few activists.”

Deepak Rawat, president of HPSU, said they were supporting SOPU. He said he was not in Chandigarh for the past two or three days and the rumour was spread in his absence. However, Vikas Rathee, presidential candidate of INSO, said HPSU was supporting them. — OC



PU order on gates
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 31
The gate No. 1 (facing the PGI) of Panjab University (PU), Chandigarh, will remain closed on September 2 and 3 due to the PU Campus Students Council elections. However, the gate No. 2 facing Sector 15 and the gate No. 3 facing Sector 25 shall remain open to regulate traffic.



Prime accused in Nayagaon rape case held
Tribune News Service

Mohali, August 31
In a major breakthrough, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Punjab police probing into the rape of a minor girl at Nayagaon three years ago today arrested Ramkesh, alias Kesha, alias Panch, one of the five prime accused in the case.

Ramkesh, a resident of Nadah village was one of the five persons named by the victim as to have committed the crime in her statement to the PGI police when she was admitted to the hospital for the delivery of her child in March, 2003. Among the others, Kesar Singh, Kanwar Inder Singh, alias Rinku, and Avtar Singh, alias Tari, were arrested by the SIT on July 20, 2005. Gurdhian Singh, brother of Kesar Singh, also named by the victim has, however, absconded.

According to sources in the SIT, Ramkesh was arrested from Nayagoan this morning and presented before a Kharar court which remanded him in three days of police custody.

Meanwhile, Inspector Jagjit Singh arrested by the SIT on July 28 under Section 9 of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Sections 213 and 120B of the IPC was also presented before the Kharar court today following the end of his two-day police remand. He was remanded in judicial custody.

Gautam Dheer, the Indian Express reporter who was arrested the same day on similar charges, had been bailed out the next day from police custody on medical grounds. Informed sources in the SIT said Dheer had been arrested following a thorough inquiry into the charges levelled against him. They pointed out that the inquiry into Dheer’s alleged role in the case began on August 5, following a complaint given by the victim’s father Balkar Singh regarding Dheer’s telephone conversations with him and his daughter.

The inquiry conducted by the SP (D) Fatehgarh Sahib, Mr P.P.S. Virk, member SIT, was completed on August 26.

“To say that Dheer was arrested due to the appearance of that news report on August 28 morning is absurd as from August 5 to August 26, the investigations with regard to Dheer and Jagjit Singh were recorded in police files which have been seen and signed by the courts from time to time.

And going by your logic, if we were gunning for those who wrote the report, why did we not ‘falsely’ book the other journalist who had jointly filed the story with Dheer?” asked Mr Virk.

Dheer had, however, alleged that he has been falsely implicated in the case purely out of vengeance for having written against the SIT head, Mr Sumedh Singh Saini. While Dheer admitted that he had talked to the rape victim and her father over the telephone for a story he was following, he had never intimidated them.

He had added that after August 5, he had never made any attempt to contact the victim’s family but was still picked up by the SIT in utter disregard of rules and regulations.

Among those who are still wanted in the case are Gurbachan Singh and Labh Singh, both brothers of Gurdhian Singh, and Mohinder Singh, alias Tunda, brother of Ramkesh.

As many as 17 persons have already been arrested by the SIT so far in the case.



Dheer case: residents, councillors meet Dy CM
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, August 31
A delegation of local Municipal Councillors and members of the citizens welfare associations of Panchkula along with the family members of Indian Express reporter Gautam Dheer today met the Haryana Deputy Chief Minister, Mr Chander Mohan, at his residence here this morning.

Later, the delegation led by Wing Commander H.L. Ratta, president of the Residents welfare Council, met the DGP, Haryana, Mr Nirmal Singh, and raised the issue that Panchkula police failed to act when the Dheer went to report that their son had been picked up by Punjab Police. The local police did not express ignorance about the action of Punjab Police. The delegation added that the police did not register a case of kidnapping against Punjab Police despite repeated requests by the Dheer family.

The DGP assured the delegation that he would take action against any police officer found wanting in his duties that day.



Ambala man accused of insurance scam
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu

Chandigarh, August 31
An Ambala resident and his accomplices reportedly took an insurance company for a ride by claiming crores of rupees after filing false accident claim cases. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has initiated a probe into the matter following the Punjab and Haryana High Court directions issued while taking up a writ petition.

Sources in the CBI said they were investigating the matter after registering a case of cheating and criminal conspiracy under Sections 420 and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code against Ambala resident Satya Pal Chauhan and others involved in the alleged scam dating back to 2004.

Petitioner Bhagat Ram — also a resident of Ambala — in a writ petition filed before the high court alleged that Chauhan and others were involved in a scam running into crores of rupees. They had been claiming compensation from an insurance company after filing cases before the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal (MACT). For the purpose, they were forging documents. He further alleged that the accused were obtaining bogus claims. The accused were claiming that their automobiles had been hit by unidentified vehicles and were accepting compensation for damages.

For the purpose of convenience, they were describing themselves as victims of hit-and-run cases as there was no second party to oppose their claims. Chauhan was allegedly using the registration number of his own vehicles for obtaining the claims.

Mr Bhagat Ram had further claimed in his petition that the accused would file about 20 to 30 cases a day. About 90 per cent of the cases filed by them were false in nature.

The petitioner had further contended that the accused continued with his looting spree due to links with high-profile people of Ambala. For the same reason, he has still not been caught. Demanding a high-level inquiry into the matter, the petitioner alleged that the accused had amassed crores of rupees.

Regarding the investigations in the matter, the sources in the CBI said the court had given them another six months to collect evidence in the cases. While admitting a delay in the process of preparing a charge sheet, they reasoned that the process of collecting evidence in this matter was tedious and lengthy. They maintained that as the documents filed by the accused were false, the copies were not of much help.



Cases of renal failure on the rise
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 31
PGIMER’s Hari Rai Sarai presents a grim picture these days. Full to the capacity, mostly with patients suffering from renal failure, it tells a tale of despair that one can trail to the eyes of people who are waiting in line for a generous glance.

Never before has the sarai reported such rush of patients who have lost both their kidneys. Most of the incumbents are from Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttaranchal, a few being from Haryana.

When The Tribune set out to share the problems of patients who have lost both the zeal and the will to revive it, Ram Babu, a patient broke the distressing silence. “I have been suffering for five years. Initially I thought I could fight the problem with my willpower, but I was mistaken. By the time I realised what the loss of kidneys means, I had lost both. Now my brother is donating the kidney but there is no money to get the transplant done.”

Babu has been living in the sarai for five months. His land has been sold out and his children are literally begging for food. He barely gets his dialysis, as each session costs Rs 2000.

Twentyseven-year-old Anand Bakshi from Jharkhand hates to talk about his treatment. Three months of physical and emotional strain caused by the loss of kidneys have robbed him of all the zeal he ever had. Till a few months ago, he was an enthusiastic youngster high on life. He was working for Airtel and was fending for his mother and sister, his only family members.

“My father died long back. I was the only earning member of my family. But now I have drained all the resources. Dialysis has taken away Rs 3 lakh; another Rs 3 lakh is needed for the transplant. My mother can’t stop shedding tears for me,” he laments. Bakshi fell ill after he consumed a medicine to cure indigestion. He had high BP and was finally detected with failed kidneys.

Similar are the stories of Ram Nath and Zuhair Alam from Jharkhand and Bihar, respectively. Both lost their kidneys after a medicinal reaction which led to hypertension. “We did not get our BPs checked. What happened is for all to see. We have even sold the last utensil we had. Transplant is nothing but a luxury for us,” says Zuhair who has four children to support.

Amit Kumar and Jamna Singh have also been ailing for months. With no money available for the transplant, they have been awaiting monetary help from somewhere. Such is the extent of the problem this year that the PGI has officially been trying to help each one of the affected persons.

“It is, however, difficult to mobilise people to donate lakhs for one patient. But whatever little comes is precious for us,” said a senior consultant. Many medical experts feel it is time for NGOs to intervene in the area of renal care, especially after the scandal that led to changes related to the ethics of kidney donation. Now lesser doctors venture into his area and there are lesser donors. In case the donor is there, money is not.

Anyone who wishes to save a life can send a draft in the name of PGI Director. The patient’s name should be written at the back side.



Himachal Royal apple floods city
Naveen S. Grewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 31
The bumper apple crop in Himachal Pradesh has caused a glut-like situation in the Chandigarh markets, with hundreds of trucks laden with the “Royal” Himachal apple arriving in the city daily. The Chandigarh Administration has made special arrangements for the parking of these trucks in Mani Majra as they had virtually choked the Sector 26 Grain Market and the Chandigarh-Panchkula Highway by haphazard parking ever since they started arriving about a week ago.

The Chandigarh police has deployed special teams to regulate traffic on the roads leading to the Grain Market and police patrol is doing the rounds continuously on the road linking Mani Majra Housing Complex with the old Housing Board Chowk. Most of the trucks have been provided temporary parking in the vacant land adjoining the Mani Majra Fire Station/Telephone Exchange and opposite it.

Most of the trucks arriving in the city are from the vicinity of Shimla, while those from Kulu and Manali side prefer to offload either here or in Delhi, where they fetch better price. According to Mr Sant Ram, a Sector 26 fruit contractor, “the market is virtually flooded with apples due to the bumper crop in Himachal. But there is a lot of difference in the various qualities that have come to the market”. According to him, the price varies between Rs 250 to Rs 700 per 20 kilo box.

The truck drivers have been asked to offload their vehicles in the temporary Mani Majra parking lot from where boxes are ferried in carts and rickshaws to the Sector 26 fruit and vegetable market. Mr Brij Kumar, a farmer accompanying his produce from Theog, beyond Shimla, said many farmers prefer to sell their produce in Shimla mandi to avoid ferrying the apples to Chandigarh and Delhi where they have to wait for days at a stretch till all the crop is sold. “Enterprising farmers try to sell their own produce, while there are many that sell it through agents, who charge a commission”

Another farmer, Mr R.L. Sood, said this was the third consecutive year that he had had a good crop. Himachal is hoping to touch 2.5 crore boxes of apple this year. Nearly 900 trucks leave the state each day since the past week, loaded with apples for various destinations in the country. So far, over 22,000 trucks have left Himachal with the apple crop, according to the state Horticulture Department. Sources said the state had procured about 1000 metric tonnes of fruit that would be used for processing within the state.

After initial traffic jams in the city, parking arrangements have now ensured a smooth flow of traffic in the city. The administration has also positioned movable toilets for the convenience of truck drivers and others accompanying the apples to the city. Many enterprising tea vendors have set up temporary shops in and around the parking lots to cater to those waiting there till their crop is sold.

Apple has, meanwhile, flooded various markets in the city and good quality apple is being sold anywhere between Rs 30 and Rs 50 per kg. Kulu and Kashmir apples are still a rarity to find in the city as apple growers from those regions find it easier and more lucrative to take their crops to other parts of the country.



Passing Thru

Prof R.P. Hooda
Prof R.P. Hooda, Vice-Chancellor of Kurukshetra University

What steps are you taking to improve the standard of education?

In today’s world, one cannot lag behind. One has to strive hard to achieve high standards of academic excellence. I am reviewing the syllabus and would undertake the necessary changes. The standard of research needs to be improved.

How do you place your university as compared to Panjab University?

We cannot compare our institution with Panjab University. Our university basically caters to rural students and it will take some time to bring it on a par with Panjab University. I am working hard to raise the standards of academics.

Do you feel education is being commercialised?

I have taken note of the tie-up between the universities and education centres in different cities regarding courses being run by the universities. I am reviewing the same in case of Kurukshetra University.

— Rajmeet Singh



MC leaves residents ‘locked’
G. S. Paul
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 31
Residents of Sector 30-B are “locked”! Not in the game show of “Kaun Banega Crorepati” but because of a lackadaisical attitude of the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh.

The service lanes of houses in their locality are being refurbished. A corporation contractor has dumped the construction material on the approach road to the main gates from house No. 67-B to 71-B, putting the residents to inconvenience. They are not able to take their vehicles, not even the two-wheelers, up to the main entrance of their houses.

“We have been facing this problem for the past 15 days. My mother is a heart patient and no ambulance can come up to the doorway of my house,” said Kapil Bhardwaj, resident of house No. 67-B.

The situation has become exacerbated due to faulty streetlights. “On Monday, a girl got her arm broken when her cycle banged into mounds of the construction material,” complained another resident.

“Since there is no access to the entryway of my house I have to park my car at my relative’s place in Sector 27. My sister has to undergo kidney transplant operation so in case of any emergency, first I will have to go that far to bring my vehicle and it may cost even her life,” rued Sanjeev Kumar, another resident of the locality. “We have apprised our area councillor of the situation but all in vain. We have even requested the contractor to shift the material, but his excuse is that he is short of labour,” complains another resident Sukhdev Sharma.



CAT seeks details on Admn, MC transfers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 31
The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) has directed the Chandigarh Administration to furnish information regarding the number of employees in May 1996, at the time of formation of the Municipal Corporation. The orders were passed during a recent hearing of the case by the tribunal.

Directing the administration to furnish the details by September 6, the tribunal comprising Mr L. M. Goyal, vice-chairman, and Ms Shyama Dogra, Member (Judicial), said in the order that the information should indicate the number of employees who were transferred to the corporation and those who were retained in the administration.

Information has also been sought on the number of posts which were created after May 1996, both in the administration and the Municipal Corporation and the number of persons recruited against these posts. The reasons and the time of asking for the option of going to corporation have also been sought by the tribunal.

A few months back, the Chandigarh Administration had asked the employees to give their options to get transferred to the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation. But a number of employees went to the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) against the move of the administration to transfer them to the corporation.

The employees of the corporation, who became senior as per the seniority list up to 2005, were relieved from the corporation and joined their respective departments in the administration. On the other hand, the employees of the administration who had been asked to give their options to get transferred to the corporation were still holding their office after getting a stay from the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The high court had directed the tribunal to decide on the applications of the employees.

Since the employees had sought transfer of the case to another Bench, the case was being heard by another Bench in the tribunal.

Leaders of the employees’ union lament that the main dispute was only for 88 employees of the administration who had gone to the corporation at the time of formation of the civic body in 1996.



Residents irked at digging of pits by phone company
Tribune News Service

Mohali, August 31
Digging of roadside by workers of a telecommunication company, Airtel, which is laying cables for its landline phones in Phase V and IV here, has left residents of the area fuming.

Residents of these two Phases allege that workers of the company have dug pits in their gardens to lay the cables and left them open.

Although the company has the permission to lay underground cable in the area, residents are unhappy at the digging of pits right at their doorstep.

“Other than the fact that digging has spoilt our beautifully maintained garden, the pit now poses threat to life. Those walking in the area in the night will not even know that these pits have been dug,” points out Amarjit Kaur, a resident of Phase V here.

Some of the residents also allege that though the company has assured of filling these pits and restore the quality of road, the pits have either been improperly filled or left uncovered.

When contacted, Chief Operating Officer, Airtel Broadband and Telephone Services, Rahul Mehta pointed out that the company had the permission to dig pits and lay the cable.

“In fact we are laying cables using ‘trench-less’ technique. Which means that instead of digging the entire roadside, we just dig pits within 10 to 15 feet of each other and lay the cable internally,” he said, adding that this method cost three times more but did minimal damage to the road.

“Also, we leave the pit open for laying and joining the cables only for three to four days after which these pits are filled and the road quality is restored,” he asserted.



Indian war veterans seek compensation
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 31
In the wake of the British Government paying compensation to Indian Army Gorkha soldiers who had been taken as prisoners of war (POW) by the Japanese during the Second World War, Indian veterans want the case of similarly placed Indian POWs be considered afresh by the British.

In 2002, Britain had decided to compensate all POWs held by the Japanese and had announced a grant of Ł 10,000 to each POW. This was initiated after reports said that the services of the Far Eastern Prisoner of War (FEPOW), which included several thousand Indian soldiers, had not been recognised.

A large number of Indian POWs, including the Gorkhas, had applied for compensation. They were, however, excluded from the ambit of the scheme. Thereafter, Nepal-based Gorkha Army Ex-servicemen’s Association had moved a London court, which ruled that Gorkha POWs were very much entitled to compensation. Even Gorkha soldiers who are settled in India were eligible for the compensation.

“Excluding Indian soldiers is totally unjust on part of the British Government, especially so when it has received compensation from Japan for all POWs who fought under the British flag,” Brig Sant Singh, president of the Chandigarh chapter of the Indian Ex-services League (IESL), said. He has written this month to the Adjutant General at Army Headquarters, Lieut-Gen Mohinder Singh, as well as the national president of IESL, Major-Gen B.S. Kanwar (retd), urging them to take up the case with the British War Office.

“Paying compensation to a section of Indian Army POWs and ignoring others is highly discriminatory,” he said. “It was not only the POWs who faced indignity, but their families too suffered untold hardships,” he added.

The British Government had been giving different reasons for denying compensation to Indian POWs. These included the stance that some soldiers had joined the Indian National Army or were from the Indian Corps of Signals. Later, the British Government said that India had signed a peace treaty with Japan and therefore, Indian POWs were not entitled to compensation.

“If a separate peace treaty by India is the reason for denying compensation, then how come Gorkha POWs, who were part of the same Army and fighting for the same cause are being paid compensation,” Brig Sant Singh questioned. “The British should not discriminate between Gorkha and non-Gorkha troops placed in similar circumstances,” he added.



BIS lists home-testing procedures for products
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 31
The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) is in the process of coming out with Indian Standards for Quick Test Kits for consumers of common foods.

Mr Avtar Singh, Deputy Director, Northern Region, BIS, says “This is aimed at giving the consumer an opportunity to detect common adulterants and contaminants in food and screening their day-to-day food provisions when in doubt. It is necessary to educate consumers who should be responsible and aware of what they are buying.”

These test methods are simple and quick and range from detection of ergot (a fungus) affected grains like wheat and bajra to revealing sugar and water in honey to spotting iron fillings in Rava and Tea Dust to dried maize fibres in saffron. In all, 15 adulterations and their detection techniques have been listed for which simple home tests have been detailed.

Adulteration or contamination of food can pose serious health risks and is a punishable offence under the Food Adulteration Act, 1954 and rules made under it.

BIS has also formulated Indian Standard No. IS:15609 for Polyethylene Flexible Pouches for the packing of natural mineral water and package drinking water. This follows in the wake of natural mineral water and packaged drinking water following stringent procedures of standardisation and certification.

This standard covers the requirements for raw material which includes the thickness of polyethylene pouches for which two requirements are given, 65 micron and 75 micron for packing of water in net quantities of 200, 250, 300 and 500 ml. Tests for transfer procedures from the place of manufacture to the retail or selling outlets, vibration test while transportation and stack test for sturdiness of packing amongst other stringent checks.

It has also formulated Indian Standard No. IS:15558 on mini domestic water heaters for use with LPG, commonly known as gas geysers.

Mr Avtar Singh says, “Similar products of Chinese make are flooding the market and it is necessary to have a standard for these products to ensure safety.” Unfortunately, these standards are not mandatory to those products coming into the market from China but for those who apply for a licence for the manufacture of these products in India.

However, standardisation ensures that safe and quality products come into the market although enforcing them is not always easy, given how vast the Indian consumer market is. These standardisations are steps to regulate quality of products and the BIS say that it will continue to add more products under the standardisation procedure.



Granting liberal relief to aggrieved his priority
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Justice K.C. Gupta
Justice K.C. Gupta

Chandigarh, August 31
The newly-appointed President of the UT State Consumer Redressal Forum, Justice K.C. Gupta, is not bothered much about procedural formalities. For, he is more concerned about granting social justice, and liberal compensation, to the aggrieved after taking a broader view.

The intention, says Justice Gupta, is not to harass the people with formalities, but to have a humane approach towards their problems and grievances. The “consumer movement” can be popularised among the masses only if the judicial members shed “judge-like” attitude and adopt a people friendly approach. Otherwise, the residents will continue to shy away from the courts.

Talking to The Tribune a day after taking over as the forum President this morning, Mr Justice Gupta agrees that the “consumer movement” has not been able to pick up the expected momentum in the region, largely because the “right kind of people have not been doing the right kind of job”.

Quoting an example, Justice Gupta says that the residents filing complaints in the consumer courts have high expectations from the members. But after one or two years, they are disheartened to receive only a petty amount as compensation. In the process, others are also discouraged from filing complaints before the court. Their logic is simple: why undergo all the trouble for a small amount?

The problem, he says, can largely be solved by granting liberal compensation to the complainants. This will not only encourage more and more people to approach the consumer courts, but also act as a deterrent for organisations indulging in unfair practices.

“The members should only make sure that they do not encourage frivolous complaints in the process so as to prevent the wastage of precious court time”, he adds.

As far as powers of the consumer courts are concerned, he says the institutions, contrary to the general impression, are not toothless bodies. “It’s true that the consumer courts do not have the power of issuing notices under the Contempt of Court Act, but at the same time they can initiate action against the violators under the relevant rules”.

Giving details, Justice Gupta says that the consumer courts do have the powers of punishing the individuals and organisations.

The punishment includes attachment of properties if required.

Regarding his priorities as the forum President, Mr Justice Gupta says arrears is not a problem. As such, he will work towards imparting social justice and making the movement a success.



Americans on cycles on peace mission
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 31
Two American followers of Gandhian values John Silliphant and Mark Peters are reaching out to the students of various city schools and colleges on Greentire cycles.

Their mission is to strengthen bonds of peace and harmony between, India and Pakistan, and they have all that’s required to make friendly gestures -greetings, posters, letters and drawings. They are still busy collecting peace messages from a cross-section of society so they can present the same to people when they cross over to Pakistan.

John and Mark have gathered tens of thousands of letters from children all over India. The reception to this idea is universal: children are children, and no matter where they live, they favour peace. Soon, John and Mark will walk into schools of Pakistan, carrying loads of cards filled with the most genuine good will remarks. “We hope to foster affection between people of the two nations,” they say.

Even in their interaction with students, they present them with an opportunity to serve as direct links in this chain of world peace. By allowing students to write letters of friendship, love and peace to their fellow students in Pakistan, they help them dwell on thoughts that are positive and facilitating.

Both John and Mark feel, “The more is the number of participating children, the better it will be for our mission. For children also, it is a great exercise and experience. Sitting here they strike friendships that matter a lot in this strife torn world”.

Today, accompanied by volunteers of Yuvsatta who are promoting the campaign for peace-city Chandigarh, John and Mark visited KB DAV School, Sector 7, Institute for the Blind, Sector 26. As they discussed their mission, the students obliged them by writing friendship postcards which blind students dictated to them.

The Gandhians also visited Dev Samaj College of Education, Sector 36, and Ajit Karam Singh International Public School, Sector 41.



Work at Beant memorial moving at snail’s pace
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 31
Work on the Beant Singh memorial moves at a snail’s pace. The project in memory of the Punjab Chief Minister assassinated today in 1995 began in December, 1998.

The project was scheduled to be completed within 18 months at a cost of Rs 8 crore. The project ran into rough weather when the Akali-BJP government came into power in Punjab in 1997 led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal. The government at one point of time backed off from the project saying that the state could not bear the expenses due to a financial crunch. Subsequently, the Congress government under Capt Amarinder Singh agreed to pay Rs 4 crore for completion of the library-cum-convention centre at the memorial.

Sources said a part of the blame in the delay of the project also lay in faulty planning. The original plan had provided for a four-storeyed library. “In the age when Internet had become the order of the day, it was pointless to have a four storeyed library. I wonder if we could have sufficient number of books on the life of Beant Singh to fill the shelves”, a senior officer said.

In a separate proposal, a 9-acre plot adjoining the Beant Singh project was planned to be designed as an exhibition centre on the lines of the Pragati Maidan in New Delhi. A multi-purpose convention centre was also planned at the memorial. The project ran into trouble with the first contractor who was assigned the job. He had problems with the payments on his work assignments. A senior officer of the administration said “We will be meeting the Chief Secretary of Punjab on this project later this week. A new contractor has been assigned the job and the project should be completed before one year”.



Death Hole
Open drains invisible at night
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 31
More than seven stormwater drains are lying uncovered along the road dividing Sectors 3 and 10. Interestingly, these drains are located in the VIP area. The road witnesses heavy vehicular traffic throughout the day. The road is also used by the going towards Nayagaon and the area behind Punjab Engineering College.

A resident of the area said the people might be well conversed with the location of the open drains, but these pose a big problem for the visitors from the adjoining states, particularly during the night.



Pushpak residents allege MC callousness
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 31
Resentment prevails among residents of the Pushpak Society against the anti-encroachment drive carried out in their locality at Sector 49-B by the Municipal Corporation recently.

The residents alleged that many fruit-bearing trees and plants were uprooted in the name of anti-encroachment drive. The officials of the corporation went a step ahead and ploughed grass carpets in front of the houses on which residents had worked hard under the beautification plan in the locality.

The residents also alleged biased attitude of the corporation as the officials carried out the drive in selected flats in the locality.

The act of uprooting plants and trees was contrary to the government's efforts to save environment, a spokesman for the society lamented.



Residents rue poor water supply
Our Correspondent

Panchkula, August 31
Inadequate water supply in Sectors 12 and 15 of Panchkula has affected the daily life of the local residents. The president of the Citizens Welfare Association, S.K. Nayyar, has lamented intermittent water supply registering all time low pressure, especially during the morning hours. Mr Nayyar, however, says the problem has been caused due to the unprecedented power cut imposed by the Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam (UHBVN) between 5.15 am and 7.00 am. The power cut timings could be rescheduled to avoid interruption in regular and adequate water supply to first and second floors.

Mr M.S. Cheema, President of House-owners-cum-Plot Holders Association, Sector 15, said water supply to this sector should have been made from the water works instead of from the local tube wells in the area. There were no generator sets provided on tube wells and also no water filter units installed to ensure hygienic water supply, said Mr Nayyar.

However, Mr Ashok Kumar, Executive Engineer, HUDA, Division II, said the matter had been taken up with the UHBVN, as we had been provided with an independent water supply feeder for uninterrupted power supply at an extra cost.



21 saplings planted at Saupins
Tribune News Service

Mohali, August 31
The Rotary, SAS Nagar, organised a tree plantation drive in Saupins School, Sector 70, here today. Mr M.L. Sharma, SDM, Mohali, was the chief guest at the function and Dr B.S. Chandhok, president, Rotary, SAS Nagar, presided over. Mrs J. Saupins, Director-Principal of Saupins group of schools, along with the school Headmaster, Mr Amardeep Sidhu, the chief coordinator Mrs Dey, Ms Rennie, hosted the rotarians and the guests.

The captain of the school, Ms Darpan Ahluwalia, read the welcome note, which carried a message from the young students in regard to the importance of tree plantation. As many as 21 saplings and climber plants were planted on the school campus. Besides the chief guest and the rotarians, students also planted saplings. The SDM, while addressing the students, recited a poem about living plants written by Bhai Veer Singh. He being a botany student told the students about various methods of plant protection and grooming.

Dr Chandhok, in his address, made the students aware of the importance of environment development and protection. He told the school management and students that the Rotary would keep planting saplings in future also. He announced that the Rotary would soon launch an Interact Club at the school for young children in the age group of 8-18 years.



Open darbar tomorrow
Our Correspondent

Panchkula, August 31
The Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) will organise an ‘open darbar’ at the HUDA complex in Sector 6, here on September 2 at 11.00 am. Ms Neelam P. Kasni, Administrator, HUDA, will chair the darbar. This was stated by Estate Officer S.P. Arora.

He also urged that besides residents of Sectora 6 and 7, people from other sectors should also put up their grievances and problems for immediate and on-the-spot settlement.

Fashion outlet

India has achieved a creditable excellence in the textile production both in industrial technology and fashion trends.

These views were expressed by Ms Asha Hooda, wife of Chief Minister Bhupender Singh Hooda, at Panchkula today.

A social activist, Ms Hooda was here to inaugurate a fashion outlet, Expressions, a one-stop fashion store for women. The store, is well-equipped with fancy outfits available in Western, Indo-Western and ethnic designed garments.

Ms Hooda loves to be associated with social service and social organisations and does not relish political functions, said Mr Ramesh Gupta, MLA from Thanesar.



MC Executive Officer retires
Our Correspondent

Mohali, August 31
Mr Har Bhagwan Garg, who worked as the Executive Officer with the local Municipal Council, retired here today.

He was given a farewell party by employees of the civic body in Silvi Park in Phase X. The function was attended among others by the Kharar MLA, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, the local SDM, Mr M.L. Sharma, the council president, Mr Kulwant Singh, president of the Kharar Municipal Council, Mr Charanjit Singh, and president of the Morinda Municipal Council, Mr Hari Pal.

A number of local municipal councillors and officials from the Kharar civic body also attended the function.

Mr Garg retired after serving the government for 28 years. He remained the Executive Officer of the council here for about three and a half years.



Workshop on public speaking
Tribune News Service

Mohali, August 31
The Department of English, Government College, Mohali, in collaboration with the British Council Library, Chandigarh, today organised a workshop on public speaking and personality development on the college premises. More than 100 students of the college participated. Dr Deepti Gupta, Reader, English Department at Panjab University, Chandigarh, conducted the workshop.

Mr Hemant Kumar Sharma, lecturer in English in the college, said, “More such interactive workshops would be held with the students on various aspects of the English language.”



Two silt retention dams inaugurated
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 31
Mr S.K.Sandhu, Finance-cum-Environment Secretary of the Chandigarh Administration, today inaugurated two silt retention dams in the Nepli Range of the Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary. The dams have been constructed to check the inflow of silt to the Sukhna Lake and for the overall improvement of the natural habitat for the wildlife. He also planted saplings of peepal and banian on the occasion.

The Department of Forests and Wildlife has constructed three silt retention dams — two under Nepli Range and one under Kansal Range — during the current financial year in the wildlife sanctuary, which forms the catchment area of lake, at a cost of Rs 50 lakh. The dams will be effective in arresting silt and retaining water which is available throughout the year, for wildlife in the sanctuary.



Telephone exchange inaugurated
Our Correspondent

Mohali, August 31
A 270-line ultra modern telephone exchange was inaugurated by the Chairman of the Punjab School Education Board, Prof Harbans Singh Sidhu, here today.

The Reliance company has installed the exchange free of cost for the board. New telephone sets had also been provided by the company. Apart from other facilities, Internet will be available at the board with the setting up of the new exchange.



Tribune employee retires
Tribune News Service

Kanta Kaushal
Mrs Kanta Kaushal

Chandigarh, August 31
Mrs Kanta Kaushal, Assistant Manager, retired today after putting in 25 years of service. She joined The Tribune Trust as Senior Clerk in 1980.

She was given a warm send-off by her colleagues. Mr Sanjay Hazari, General Manager and Mr O. P. Arora, Additional General Manager, lauded her services to the trust and wished her a happy retired life.



1 held with smack
Our Correspondent

Mohali, August 31
The police arrested a resident of Dadumajra Colony in Chandigarh and allegedly recovered 9 gm of smack from him here today.

According to the police, Ashok, alias, Shoki, was going on a motor cycle and was stopped at the Sector 67-68 chowk by the police on suspicion. The police has registered a case against Ashok who will be produced in court at Kharar tomorrow.



A heavy price for giving lift
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 31
A Ropar district resident had to pay heavily for offering a lift to a stranger. His bike and Rs 5,500 cash were stolen by the stranger after he was forced to smell a handkerchief doused with chloroform.

In his complaint before the police, Karamjit Singh claimed that the stranger sat behind his bike near the Punjab Civil Secretariat at about 5.15 pm. After reaching matka chowk, the stranger asked him to stop the bike before putting the handkerchief in front of his nostrils. The complainant claimed that he became semi-conscious and found himself in Patiala after gaining consciousness.

A senior police officer said a case of theft and other offences has been registered by them at the Sector 3 police station under Sections 328 and 379 of the Indian Penal Code. Further investigations in the matter were on, he added.



PNB disburses Rs 18 cr retail loans
Tribune News service

Chandigarh, August 31
Punjab National Bank disbursed Rs 18 crore at the spot under various retail lending schemes at a function held here today. The loans included those for housing, car, trading, education and loans against property and lease rentals.

According to Mr N.K. Mehta, Deputy General Manager, PNB, Northern Zone, loans for housing segment alone were to the tune of Rs 8 crore, trading segment Rs 5 crore and education loans to the students of Chandigarh to the tune of more than Rs 2 crore.

Under the new housing loan scheme in the name of PNB Flexible Housing Loan, 80 per cent of the loan amount shall be allowed in the shape of a term loan and the balance 20 per cent in the shape of over draft. The rate of interest on term loan will be 0.25 per cent lower than the traditional interest rate, whereas on over draft, the rate of interest is BPLR (basic prime lending rate)-1 per cent.

Under the new attractive car loan scheme, the rate of interest has been reduced to 8 per cent and the repayment period is up to 7 years for which the EMI (equated monthly instalment) is just Rs 1,548-per lakh.

The education loan scheme named PNB Sarvottam Shiksha is for students having secured admission in prominent educational institutions. The scheme basically aims at allowing loans at lower rate of interest as compared to the general education loan scheme. For education loan up to Rs 4.00 lakh, the rate of interest under the Sarvottam Shiksha Scheme is 9.5 per cent p.a. as against 11.25 per cent p.a. existing rate of interest under the general education loan scheme.

Similarly, for the loan from Rs 4 lakh to 15 lakh, the rate of interest under the Sarvottam Shikha Scheme is 10.5 per cent per annum as against 12.25 per cent under the general education loan scheme. Further, 1 per cent concession will also be provided if the interest is serviced by the borrower during the study period.

Mr Mehta informed that under the education loan, the bank has allowed extension of collateral free loan up to Rs 7.50 lakh and also the second time for the completion of different courses to the same student. Under the earnest money deposit scheme, the PNB has reduced the margin to 10 per cent for house/flat and plot/land and the rate of interest is 9 per cent per annum.



LIC’s golden jubilee celebrations
Tribune News Service

N.P. Chawla
N.P. Chawla

Chandigarh, August 31
The golden jubilee celebrations of Life Insurance Corporation of India will commence tomorrow with social and customer-service related activities. A new money-back plan Bima Gold is being launched by the Prime Minister tomorrow at Lucknow.

According to Mr N.P. Chawla, Senior Divisional Manager, Chandigarh Division has shown good performance by earning first premium income of Rs 60 crore on 59524 policies as on August 15. The Division has shown remarkable growth rate of 85.1 per cent over last year.

Under Future Plus and Bima Plus schemes, 12400 policies have been sold and Rs 46 crore premium has been collected.

Chandigarh Division stood first in achieving policy targets and third on first premium income in North Zone as on August 15.

The Morinda branch achieved its annual target of premium income and many other branches are set to achieve their targets soon.

Mr Chawla further stated that Chandigarh Division would aim at sale of policies and premium income for balanced growth. The division aims to achieve its annual target by December 31.

This year the division settled 966 death claimss by paying Rs 9 crore and 37312 maturity claims by paying Rs 74 crore.

Regarding pension and group schemes, 33000 individuals have been covered by garnering Rs 85 lakh under 131 group schemes. "We aim to collecting Rs 25 crore premium by covering 45,000 individuals under 250 schemes in the current financial year", he said.

All 2048 branches have been modernised and computerised and divisional offices will also be modernised, he added.



Adding zing to tri-series
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 31
To add zing to the on-going cricket tri-series between India, New Zealand and Zimbabwe, Spice Telecom is providing its subscribers an opportunity to access real time cricket updates. This can be availed through the USSD and IVR platforms or by subscribing to the cricket score packs.

To subscribe to these packs, subscribers need to dial *555#. The series pack gives access to cricket scores for the entire series unlimited number of times and the match pack gives access to scores unlimited number of times during a particular match.


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