C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Forest Hill case
Amarinder, ministers, officials get notice
Amrita Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 7
With the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) beginning its probe into the controversial forest hill case, notices have been issued to the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh and certain ministers, journalists and IAS officers.

According to sources in the CBI, the personal assistants of a few ministers yesterday appeared for questioning before the CBI.

It may be mentioned here that the CBI was ordered by the high court to investigate into the honorary and ex-officio memberships given by Forest Hill Resorts, situated at Karoran Village in Rupnagar district of Punjab, to the VVIPs of the state.

Apart from Punjab Chief Minster Capt Amarinder Singh, a few ministers were also yesterday summoned by the CBI. PWD Minister Pratap Singh Bajwa, Minister for Sports Jagmohan Singh Kang, were too, summoned. However, it were their personal assistants who appeared before the investigating officials for questioning.

The DSP, CBI, who is investigating the matter questioned them about the membership. According to sources in the CBI, investigations are being done to ascertain if the membership forms were filled by the applicants. The personal secretaries, who appeared yesterday, were asked to verify the signatures and other documents with the club application membership forms.

It was found that in many cases these VVIP’s had also written to the Forest Hill authorities acknowledging the honorary membership. In many cases, sources added that the applications of certain honorary members were not completely filled and also not signed by the applicants. It was also found that while certain government officials were offered membership for a fee less than that for others, many were even given membership free.

It may be mentioned here that the high court in its judgment passed in October 2004 had ordered the closure of the Forest Resort, demolition of its building, an inquiry into the dealings of the land of Forest Hill. The court had also ordered an CBI inquiry into the memberships of the club. The court had asked the CBI to submit a status report within six months. However, they had later asked for extension.

The CBI is now investigating two lists of members: honorary and ex-officio. Each list has 32 names in it.

While the honorary list mentions the name of Capt Amarinder Singh, the ex-officio list has the name of journalist A.S. Prashar. Others in the lists are: A.S. Chatha former Chief Secretary, Punjab, Capt Bikramjit Singh, OSD to CM Office, Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi, Bir Devinder Singh, Kewal Dhillon, General VP Malik Former Army Chief, two high court judges, Mr Siddiqui, retired DGP Punjab, M.S. Bhullar, retired DGP. Many IAS and IPS officers too figure in the list and are expected to be summoned for questioning.



HUDA draw for plots: applicants to get interest
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, September 7
Thousands of applicants, who have applied for residential plots advertised under various housing schemes floated by the Haryana Urban Development Agency (HUDA) but have neither been allotted plots and nor has their initial deposit been refunded, will be paid interest at the rate of 5.5 per cent per annum.

This information was conveyed to a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court during the hearing of a PIL filed by the Public Interest and Common Cause Society. The petitioner had sought directions to HUDA to pay interest to the applicants in case draw of lots is not conducted within the prescribed time.

Among those eligible for interest are the over 34,000 applicants who had invested over Rs 465 crore with HUDA for the allotment of residential plots in Sector 2 and 6 of Mansa Devi Complex.

In an affidavit submitted in the court, the Secretary, HUDA, informed the Bench of Chief Justice Mr Justice D.K. Jain and Mr Justice Hemant Gupta that HUDA has framed a policy on June 21, 2005 whereby it had decided to pay interest at the rate of 5.5 per cent per annum on the amount of earnest money for the period beyond six months of the closure of the scheme.

The policy also says that in case HUDA is not able to hold a draw of lots and withdraws the scheme, similar interest would be paid from the date of closure of scheme.

It may be recalled that the scheme for two sectors in Mansa Devi Complex (MDC) was floated by HUDA on April 5, 2004. As many as 165 residential plots in Sector 2 MDC, and 372 plots in Sector 6 MDC were offered under this housing scheme. As many as 5,943 applications were received for plots measuring two kanal, one kanal and 14 marlas in Sector 2 MDC, and 27, 850 persons had applied for plots measuring 1 kanal, 14 marlas and 10 marlas in Sector 6, MDC.

But, due to litigation, the draw of lots could not be held.

Today, after being informed about the HUDA policy, the High Court disposed of the PIL.



Officials ‘placating’ panches in land scam case
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 7
In connection with the case of land grabbing of Mauli Jagran panchayat land, two senior citizens of the area have alleged that certain UT officials were trying to placate the sarpanch and three panches of the Mauli Jagran gram panchayat who were involved in the scam.

The land in question was worth Rs 5 crore and the Deputy Commissioner had suspended Om Parkash, sarpanch, and Kesar Singh and Dalbara, both panches, and an FIR was registered on February 26.

In the representation to the UT Administrator they have alleged that the inquiry was not being conducted in a fair manner. Mr Chanchal Singh and Mr Raj Pal, both residents of Mauli Jagran, have demanded that the case should be investigated by an IAS officer.

It may be mentioned that in the case a government servant allegedly illegally sold 10 kanals of disputed land on which Mauli Jagran panchayat had planned a playground for school children. The gram panchayat had passed a resolution in 1976 that this land be given for a playground as the panchayat considered it as shamlat land (land for common purpose).

There has been a dispute between the gram panchayat and Jaspal Singh, a government servant, over the piece of land for more than three decades. Mr Jaspal Singh, who had allegedly sold a part of the land for Rs 5 lakh despite the fact that a dispute on title is pending in the SDM’s court.

Interestingly, the description of land mentioned on general power of attorney and as per shown in the sale deed registered by Sub-Registrar Chandigarh, and as per sale agreement is different. Moreover, the shady site plan has been attested by sarpanch Om Prakash.

The sarpanch is supposed to fight the case of protecting this land against the opposite party but he probably ignored the fact that this land was disputed.

According to panches who have stood up for saving this land, a part of this plot had been given to the government for building a community centre. These members said 8 kanals of land of this property had been donated for a play ground for a village school through a resolution passed by then panchayat in 1976, which Jaspal Singh’s father contested.



Travel cut to save fuel
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 7
For most of the residents of the city and the satellite towns of Mohali and Panchkula, it was travelling for business strictly. Hit by a constant hike in petrol prices, the residents preferred to minimise their travel in the city.

The result was there for all to see. The traffic on the roads was visibly less. Reacting sharply to the steep hike in the prices of petrol and diesel, the residents of the city expressed their resentment and anger. A few petrol pumps reported low sales today as most of the people went for refuelling yesterday following the price hike.

Col T.S. Sidhu (retd) is of the view that “one would now think twice before taking out the car. I will wait till I have to attend to four or five pending works and then go out.” The day is not far when the price will go up to Rs 50, he added.

Mr Arun Ghosh, a software executive, said that the increase in fuel prices would hit the economically weaker sections of society more as it would cut into their monthly budget.

Ashish, an advocate, said, “With the fuel prices showing a constant upward trend due to an increase in the international crude oil prices, it was probably time now for people to think of measures like car pooling to cut down on both personal travelling expenses and air pollution.” Mohit, a school teacher, suggested that people should either get their vehicles converted on CNG or LPG or they should start using public transport.

Few others were in favour of buying scooters and motorcycles for commuting as cars would become “unaffordable”. Employees unions are also demanding revision of transport allowances from their respective managements in the wake of these frequent hikes.

Transporters are an angry lot too. “The fuel prices have increased, but the freight charges have remained the same. Demanding a roll back of diesel prices, they said if this was not done they, would be forced to increase the freight charges. This will, in the end, increase inflation,” said Mr S.K Gupta, a transporter adding that prices of almost all daily-consumption items would go up.

A majority of the residents expressed the fear that a subsequent increase in the prices of fruits, vegetables and grocery would certainly burn a hole in their pockets.

Terming the hike in prices as unprecedented, autorickshaw and taxi drivers have also expressed their resentment. The president of the Autorickshaw Workers’ Union, Mr Harcharan Singh Sahni, said fares of autorickshaws should be increased following constant hikes in fuel prices. He said he would be taking up the matter with the Chandigarh Administration. “The fares have remained the same since 2001 though the prices of petrol and diesel have been increased at least six times during the past one year,” he said. While the price of diesel in 2001 was Rs 18, it has gone up to Rs 30 with the recent hike, he rued.

The increase in fuel prices will hit industrialists as the cost of production will go up due to a corresponding increase in the prices of raw material, transportation charges and other expenses. They were critical of the hike and outrightly blamed the government for the same.



A “pleasure resort” to come up near Mohali
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, September 7
The Punjab Government seems to be really doing all it can to attract IT companies to the state. The empowered committee of the government chaired by the Chief Minister has given a go ahead to the opening of a “pleasure resort” near Mohali to help IT professionals “soothe their frayed nerves”.

The Rs 154 crore project to be executed by a group of NRIs was okayed during the last meeting of the empowered committee held on August 29.

The first-of-its-kind resort, projected as a one-shop-stop for both reel and real entertainment, will have a five screen multiplex and “cabaret”/”mujra” dance bars where live shows will be performed. Hard liquor will be served through the night (and day) and a “healthy” discotheque will remain open round the clock for youngsters to dance away their stress.

And this is just the icing on the cake. A 250-room five-star hotel and a high-rise revolving restaurant complete with all the associated frills will form a major part of the resort. The multiplex will have one luxury screen with wine and dine facility. The top floor will have an all-weather pool, state of the art gym, facility for indoor games, ice skating rink, terrace garden with bar and an amphitheatre for special musical programmes - concerts, ramp shows etc. Banquets and conference facilities are proposed to be on the two floors below the terrace level. A four-storeyed atrium for adventure games, a shopping mall, food courts, the discotheque and the mujra dance bar will be a part of the multiplex.

A revolving restaurant is planned between the five-star hotel and the multiplex with air bridges to link these. The hotel, other than the usual restaurants, parlours, health clubs, will have a special dance theatre complete with live belly dance and a cabaret-restaurant and bar.

Feeling that the region lacks infrastructure for “soothing the tense nerves of hyperactive modern executives, business people, industrialists and students fighting fierce competition, the NRIs who are putting up the project stated in their proposal: “The tasteful modern and spendthrift IT professionals desire to enjoy life to the fullest potential. They prefer to shop, dine, wine and enjoy movies in a compact estate oozing with pleasant ambience”.



Chandigarh Club members... Beware
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 7
Members of Chandigarh Club need to be beware against telephone calls from a call centre asking them to give copies of their Permanent Account Numbers (PAN). The caller says he wants these for a lucky draw on behalf of an international bank that would give ‘free petrol deals’ besides other expensive gifts, including cars, motor cycles and refrigerators.

Members need to be careful because the lucky draw never took place last time when the members were asked to assemble at the club premises on a Sunday about a month back. No one except lucky draw enthusiasts came to the spot. Members are once again receiving calls and even visitors from call centres these days.

Mr Ashwani Kumar, a club member, said a boy from a call centre approached him last Friday. “He said he wanted my PAN number and a membership fee of Rs 150 for the lucky draw. When he said that the bank he was representing had tied up with the club, I called Mr Mukesh Bassi, the president. Mr Bassi denied any tie-up. I asked the boy to go away. I have heard similar complaints from certain other members”.

Mr S.K. Punia, a member, said: “Last month I came to the club premises on a Sunday following calls from a call centre. They repeatedly asked for my PAN number. When I reached the spot, there were more than a dozen families. They had also been fooled just like me. I called the president who refused any tie-up.” Mr Amarjit Ladhar, another member, also said he had received similar calls to whom he did not respond.

Mr Bassi called up the number of the call centre and warned them of lodging a police complaint against them in case the name of the club was misused. “I am receiving a number of calls these days asking in case the club had tied up with some party for a lucky draw”.

Mr Bassi said: “It is difficult to say what could be the exact motive of the call centres. On both the occasions they claimed to be working for two different international banks.” An expert on financial matters said; “One possibility could be the banks seeking PAN numbers for getting the data of the bank accounts. In case of big accounts, the bank could contact them directly for dealings. The PAN card was a big opportunity of getting easy access into account details of potential customers”.

In reply to a call by the Tribune correspondent on the number given by Mr Bassi, a girl replied, “Sir, this is a central PBX number of our office in Sector 34. We have about 20 connections on this number. I don’t know which office you would like to contact.” Mr Bassi said a majority of the affected members who contacted him had received the call from the same number.



Swindlers’ list gets longer
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu

Chandigarh, September 7
The next time you allow a stranger to divert your attention while walking down the road or after entering your home for offering a loan, or else with queries, be extra vigilant for chances are that he/she may either manage to extract vital information regarding your bank account, or rob your valuable articles. There has been a considerable increase in the number of such incidents over the past few months.

Though separate data of such cheating cases is not readily available with the Chandigarh Police, sources in the headquarters say that as many as 834 cases of cheating had been registered by the police between January 2000 and December 2004. Till April this year, another 67 cases of cheating were added to the list. Out of the total, the thugs managed to cheat those present at home or walking on the roads in a substantial number of cases.

Analysis of the incidents reveals that such conmen strike without discrimination. Their targets include housewives, working women, office-goers, commuters, children elderly left alone at home by working couples and even poor labourers. At times these cheats decamp with belongings of the “victims” by diverting their attention. Sometimes they lure people to make a quick buck by encouraging them to invest in lottery schemes.

It is very rarely that these swindlers land in the police net. Quoting an example, the sources say that on January 13 this year a teen-aged cheat-turned tsunami fund-raiser-turned a loan inspector duped two middle school level children, who were alone at home. He ‘took away’ jewellery from their houses in Sector 38 (West). The conman, posing as an Inspector, entered the home and threatened the children that if they did not disclose about the jewellery and other valuables kept in the house then they would be put behind the bars. It was after the cheat left that the children realised that gold jewellery and other valuable articles were missing. The matter was reported to the police.

In another case a Sector 18 resident, Mr Anil Malhotra, was robbed of his bag containing Rs 1.5 lakh on April 23 when a cheat diverted his attention by pointing towards Rs 10 currency notes lying on the ground. The moment Mr Malhotra bent to pick up the money, the unidentified man decamped with the bag that was lying on his scooter. The incident happened in broad daylight in city’s commercial centre in Sector 17. Mr Malhotra had come out of a bank after withdrawing the money. This, however, was not an isolated incident as a woman had lost her money in a similar fashion in Sector 22 just two days before, Mr Malhotra lost his bag. There has been no trace of the accused so far.

On April 4, two unidentified women duped a Chandigarh Police Head Constable’s wife. The unsuspecting woman was on her way back home when some women met her in Sector 22 and told her that they wanted to sell their jewellery.

The con women told her that they were short of money to buy tickets for their journey and showed Ms Lata some gold ornaments studded with diamonds. Thinking it to be a good deal Ms Lata handed over her gold chain, gold and Rs 200 in cash in lieu of the jewellery of the women. However, when she got the ornaments checked from a jeweller she found that those were artificial.



Parks are not for parking
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 7
Encroachments in public parks, particularly in the Southern sectors, has become a common sight in the city. The problem is pronounced in the southern belt of the city because of lesser parking space and a heavy density of vehicles as compared to those in the northern sectors.

More than 10 cars could be seen parked in a public park in Sector 44 today afternoon. “This is a common sight here”, a safai karamchari sweeping the road said. Unkempt grass and haphazard car parking has rendered the public place practically out of bounds for the residents, particularly children.

Ms Neha Sharma, a local resident, said the space in the park was occupied by vehicles for most part of the day. “It becomes difficult for children to play even during their holidays. The grass in the park also grows wild which is understandable because of the heavy monsoon downpour. The place needs to be cleared immediately for children to play, at least in the evenings”.

Mr Neera Kumar, another resident of the area, said that the southern sectors had comparatively lesser space for parking vehicles. A house having more than one vehicle is a common feature in the city. The additional vehicles are parked on the road berms. The Administration needs to plan for alternate parking sites. Problem also arises when a house has a big gathering for a family function”.



Spanish architects talk about bionic science and architecture
Gayatri Rajwade
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 7
For these pioneers, architecture is not about using space as much as it is about living it. For them, it constitutes the very soul of the city and when structures are combined with nature, there is a sublime, almost ethereal quality to the work produced. This is what Dr Javier Pioz and Dr Rosa Cervera, acclaimed architects from Madrid, Spain, believe.

In the city to give a talk on “Bionic Architecture, Learning from Nature,” they remain firm on the need for greater commitment towards building a better living environment in harmony with nature.

“Our commitment is two-pronged. It is to create a better understanding of nature and its use in architecture and to bring humans back to nature which essentially is safe energy and minimal wastage of natural resources.”

Bionics is an interdisciplinary subject which combines engineering, science, architecture and mathematics and whose basic principle is to understand nature’s ideas and problem solutions which have stood the test of time since evolution.

Javier and Rosa who started their own architectural firm way back in 1979 in Madrid, started research on combining bionics and architecture only in the 1990s. “We have always felt close to nature and are deeply committed to what our role as humans should be.” What followed was research of biological structures of objects like trees, birds after which they evolved their own style.

The Hai-he river bridge in Tianjin, China, is testimony to their dedication, for it has been inspired from the bones of birds!

They are the pioneers in this research and were the first to apply bionics to architecture. Their piece de resistance is a high-rise sustainable green bionic structure coming up in Shanghai, China, which is in its planning stages right now. Once completed it will be the highest, tallest structure in the world. “Yes we are scared, nervous. The project is large because it is not a building that is being planned. It is a whole city,” smiles Javier.

The maximum height planned is 1228 metres which is equivalent to 300 floors with a maximum capacity to house 100,000 inhabitants. “The material we use is the same, reinforced concrete. The difference is the structural model which has been developed through all the research we have done,” says Rosa.

And what is their inspiration? Unbelievably close to home! Le Corbousier. “We have been deeply influenced by his work for he was a visionary. I wonder if most people know that he was essentially a sculptor and painter and we have studied his works extensively. He was a strong thinker with an open mind and that is what we attempt to do in our work.”

No words on Chandigarh for they are yet to see the city of their dreams.



Army officers remember war hero
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 7
With Lieut-Col Dhan Singh Thapa, one of independent India’s highest decorated soldiers passing away, an era of war heroes has come to an end. He was the last living Param Vir Chakra (PVCs) winner who had been decorated for valour in war fought against another nation. While majority of the 21 PVCs awarded so far are associated with wars fought against China and Pakistan, six have been awarded in post-1971 operations in Siachen, Sri Lanka and Kargil.

As the defence community here mourned the demise of the 77-year-old war hero who had blazed a trail of glory during the 1962 war with China, they poignantly recalled him as a fine soldier and a true gentleman, a modest person who was optimistic, cheerful and social.

Born in Shimla, Colonel Thapa died at Pune yesterday due to illness. He was commissioned into the First Battalion of the Eight Gorkha Rifles in August, 1949. According to his citation, Colonel Thapa (then major) was in command of a forward post in Ladakh when, on October 20, it was attacked by the Chinese in overwhelming strength after heavy artillery shelling.

Despite being greatly outnumbered, the post repulsed the attack, inflicting heavy casualties on the aggressors. The enemy attacked again in greater numbers and this attack too was repulsed. The Chinese attacked for the third time, now with tanks to support the infantry. The post had suffered heavy casualties in earlier attacks and though considerably thinned out, the men held out to the last. When it was finally overrun, Major Thapa got out of his trench and killed several of the enemy in hand-to-hand combat before he was finally overpowered.

It was initially thought that Major Thapa was killed during the engagement and the citation reflected this. Later it was discovered that he had been taken prisoner of war and after his release he resumed his military career.

Of the 21 PVC recipients, only three are now surviving. These include Nb Sub Bana Singh (Siachen, 1987), Yogendar Singh Yadav and Sanjay Kumar (both Kargil, 1999).

“With Colonel Thapa passing away, an era of heroes who had shown valour above and beyond the call of duty in the face of the enemy has come to an end,” Capt Reet M.P. Singh (retd), secretary of the War Decorated India, remarked. “The gallantry shown by soldiers in other operations is not in doubt, but then those were not in war where the country as a whole is in danger or in the face of a declared enemy,” he opined. Since the Kargil conflict, no Vir Chakra series of gallantry awards have been given, though a large number of armed forces personnel have been decorated with the Ashoka Chakra series for gallantry other than in the face of the enemy.

Major-Gen Rajendra Nath (retd), also a Gorkha officer, said that he was a pragmatic and practical person, who set a personal example of how to behave in peace-time and how to fight in war.

Brigadier K.S. Kahlon (retd), who was serving at the School of Artillery, Deolali when Colonel Thapa was posted there after the war, said he was a tremendous motivational factor for young officers and commanded a lot of respect from other officers.

Colonel Thapa had visited Chandigarh about two years ago to attend the War Decorated India convention. “He was then hale and hearty and in high spirits,” Brig K.S. Chandpuri (retd), himself a highly decorated soldier, said. “He was always cheerful and mixed freely with other officers as well as jawans and their families who had come to attend the convention,” he added.



General Jamwal takes over as ARTRAC chief
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 7
Chief of Staff, Army Training Command (ARTRAC), Shimla, Lieut-Gen K.S. Jamwal, will take over as the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, ARTRAC, on October 1. The post of GOC-in-C fell vacant after Lieut-Gen Deepak Kapoor took over as the GOC-in-C, Northern Command, Udhampur, earlier this week.

General Jamwal will discharge the duties of GOC-in-C, ARTRAC, till he is formally elevated to that post. An artillery officer, General Jamwal has vast command and staff experience, including a tenure in the United Nations Mission in Angola as Chief of Staff.



We’ve trivialised politics, says Surender Sharma
SD Sharma

Gone are the days when the patriarchs of religion and politics were devoted to generate communal harmony by cementing the bonds of love for the cause of humanity but now their perceptions and priorities have changed. So it is now left to the wisdom of intellectuals and the media who should come forward to check further degeneration in society and governance, observed Surender Sharma, satirist poet, perturbed over declining ethics in every sphere.

He said democracy was not in danger. Sharing his anguish at a meet-the-press programme organised by the Chandigarh Press Club, he rued that how a few decades ago we, illiterate voters, elected wise and honest leaders but today “we have made a mockery of politics by electing many Phoolans and Rabris”.

Appreciating the club ambience, and the restraint and dedication its journalist members had displayed during the terrorism days, Sharma, also Deputy Chairman of the Haryana Sahitya Academy, urged mediapersons to be objective and careful while reporting sensitive issues. He was deeply moved at the Gohana incident and maintained that the culprits belonging to any community must be punished, but not the community as a whole. A watchful media must condemn those leaders who exploit the sentiments of innocent people by politicising issues for their personal gains.

Satirical verses flowed during a lively interaction on varied themes. Press Club president Jagtar Singh Sidhu welcomed Sharma and admired the literary prominence of the myriad-minded poet while Balwant Takshak conducted the proceedings. Haryana Sahitya Academy director, Mr Radhey Shyam Sharma, and senior journalists graced the occasion.



Ganesha puja begins
Gayatri Rajwade
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 7
Sounds of hymns and shlokas filled the air as devotees converged to mark the beginning of “Ganesha Puja” in the city today. The annual festival of the Ganpati began today with the “murti sthapna” (installation of Lord Ganesha’s statue) by the Maharashtra Mandal in Sector 19 and the Vayu Sena Maharashtra Mandal in Sector 31 D, near the Shiv Mandir.

The festival has grown in the city over the years. Today, the city has almost 300 to 400 Maharashtrian families with two local centres for the community to get together for functions, festivals and cultural activities which are celebrated with gusto and enthusiasm. For each of these people, home is Chandigarh and this is no different than living in Maharashtra.

Gauri Mangesh got married recently and has come here from Amravati, she misses home tremendously but says that being a part of the mandal makes her feel that she is close to her family.

The Maharashtra Mandal in Sector 19 is celebrating the Ganeshotsav for the 41st year running while the Vayu Sena Maharashtra Mandal is celebrating this prominent festival since the inception of the Air Force Station here in Chandigarh.

Almost 60 families of the Vayu Sena Maharashtra Mandal came together for the sthapna of the Ganesha idol at 11 am this morning. The idol was placed in an enclosure made to resemble a coconut and the puja was performed by the Secretary of the Mandal, Mr Anant Malviya, and his wife Nalini.

The Maharashtra Mandal in Sector 19 performed the sthapna at 6 pm which was done by Dhananjay and Rajni Kulkarni. According to the President, Mr Madhav Sane, “We usually have a newly married couple doing the Sthapna puja. This is done to include all our members and to ensure that everything is done fairly.”

The Ganesha festival was pioneered by Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, freedom fighter and founder of ‘Kesari’ in 1893 in Pune. He shaped the festival to cultivate a spirit of nationalism and patriotism among the people.

According to Mr V.H. Nagwade, vice-secretary of the Vayu Sena Maharashtra Mandal, “This was done at a time when the British did not allow the people to come together for meetings so this was started to bring people together to foster a feeling of nationalism.”

Modaks, the favourite food of Ganesha, are offered at this time along with “puran polis”, “kherapati prashad” made of coconut and sugar.

Ganesha idols are worshipped and immersed in water after one, five, seven or 10 days. The procession from the Maharashtra Mandal in Sector 19 will leave for the Ghaggar river on Sunday, September 11 at 3.30 pm and the Vayu Sena Maharashtra Mandal will immerse the idol on Friday, September 9 at 3:30 pm.

According to Ms Madhulika Mahadevkar, a resident of the city for the past 35 years, “At the time of immersion, we tuck in a handful of curd rice and a folded “gujiya” with the idol, as our way of saying farewell and imploring Ganesha to come soon the next year. It is like feeding a daughter when she comes home after getting married and asking her to come back soon.”



Protests against fuel price hike
Tribune news Service

Chandigarh, September 7
The local unit of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha today organised a demonstration in protest against the hike in petrol prices by the Congress-led UPA government. An effigy of the Central Government was burnt at the Plaza, Sector 17 here.

Addressing a gathering, Mr Satya Pal Jain, a former Member of Parliament, said the Congress had betrayed the people of the country and hiked the oil prices continuously for the fifth time during the past 15 months. He said the party which claimed to be a party of the common man had in fact harassed the common man to the maximum.

Mr Jain said the Congress was giving benefits only to the rich as was evident from heavy slashing of the air travel tariffs. He said the BJP was holding rallies, demonstrations and burning effigies of the UPA throughout the country on September 7 and 8.

Mr Davesh Moudgil, president of the BJYM, also addressed the demonstration. Also present on the occasion were Mr Yash Pal Mahajan, Mr Purshotam Mahajan, and Mr P.D. Mongia, Mr Bal Krishan Kapoor and Mrs Kamla Sharma, former Mayor.



Fuel loan — Bhatti style
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 7
Reacting to the steep hike in fuel prices in a humorous way, members of the Nonsense Club today opened up a counter in the premises of a filling station in sector 17, Chandigarh, to disburse loan for petrol and diesel.

Jaspal Bhatti, the President of the Nonsense Club, said: “There are many financial institutes offering loan for vehicles, but today looking at the unaffordable price of petrol or diesel, a common man needs funding for fuel rather than vehicle. Buying a car is not a big problem today but affording a car is one”

To attract the loan seekers, the members of the club were singing the parody of a famous number from “Bunty aur Babli”

There were very little formalities to obtain the loan except for proof of residential address. Some were being asked to leave their tool kits or spare wheels as guarantee. The onlookers were laughing on which Bhatti commented “At least we can provide comic relief to the frustrated common man”

The prominent members and artists who took part in this function were Jaspal Bhatti, Vinod Sharma, Brijesh Ahuja, Gurtej Tej, Lalli Gill, Dimpy, Komal, Anjana and Gulgul.



Residents’ plea to Admn
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, September 7
A meeting of the Residents Coordination Committee, MIG Flats, Sector 40-C, has criticised the lackadaisical attitude of the authorities for not taking any action to make streetlights functional.

Mr S.K. Khosla, general secretary of the committee, while criticising the indifferent attitude of the authorities concerned, stated that despite the fact they had made a number of complaints, no action had been taken so far. Faulty streetlights also posed threat to commuters. The representatives urged the authorities concerned to make these lights functional at the earliest.



11-KV substation commissioned

Chandigarh, September 7
To ensure uninterrupted power supply to Sector 35, the Electricity Department of the Chandigarh Administration today commissioned a 11 KV feeder here today. In case of an emergency, the services can be extended to Sector 34.

Mr V.K. Bhardwaj, Chief Engineer, energised the feeder. The feeder has come up at an estimated cost of Rs 22 lakh. The independent feeder from the 66 KV grid substation in Sector 52 connects with the indoor substation in Sector 35. TNS



2 mishap deaths in 24 hours
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 7
The Chandigarh Police has failed to make the roads secure for two-wheeler riders. Nothing else can explain the occurrence of two deaths and another serious accident in the past 24 hours. The dead include Shushil Kumar and Amit Sahni, while the injured has been identified as Pritam Singh.

Giving details of the accidents, the sources in the police headquarters say that 35-year-old Shushil Sharma, admitted to the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research after being hit by a car on Tuesday, today succumbed to his injuries.

The eye-witnesses say semi-conscious Shushil Kumar of Sector 37-C was rushed to the hospital after a Palio car rammed into the scooter he was riding near the Sector 36-37 traffic lights.

Driver Gurdeep Singh of the same sector was subsequently booked for rash and negligent act endangering human lives and other offences under Section 279 and 337 of the Indian Penal Code. Section 304-A regarding death due to rash act was subsequently added to the first information report registered at Sector 36 police station. As all the offences were bailable in nature, driver Gurdeep Singh was released on bail.

The sources add that Amit Sahni of Sector 23 was also rushed to the hospital with injuries after the scooter he was riding was hit by a Haryana Roadways bus on the road dividing Sectors 22 and 23 on August 31. He too died this afternoon.

They say 60-year-old cyclist Pritam Singh of Mubarakpur village too was admitted to the Sector 32 Government Medical College and Hospital after being hit by a car this afternoon. The doctors on duty say his condition is not too stable.

Sources assert that over 280 fatal mishaps were reported to the Chandigarh Police from January 2003 to December last year. Out of the total, a substantial number of victims were two-wheeler riders.

The sources add that the mishaps involving slow-moving vehicles, including cycles, and mopeds, have registered a sharp decline since the installation of railing on the median dividing Madhya Marg. Yet, the number of accidents is far too high.

As far as the reasons behind the failure of the police to arrest the accident rate in the city is concerned, the sources assert that overspeeding is the culprit. Though as many as 12,000 motorists were challaned last year by the traffic wing of the Chandigarh Police for driving beyond the prescribed limit, it has failed to act as a deterrent.

The sources add that the police has just not been able to create awareness among the drivers against overspeeding. This, they assert, can be done by challaning reckless drivers on a regular basis.

They add that every now and then special “nakas” are set up by the police. Drives against traffic violators are also launched from time to time. But the police is yet to formulate a systematic plan for dealing with the menace created by speedsters and other violators.



Maid servant kills self out of depression
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, September 7
A 30-year-old unmarried maid servant allegedly hanged herself to death in a Sector 34 house here, where she was working. No suicide note was found on the body and the reason behind the death is still not known, said the police.

Sources in the police said Babli was found hanging from a ceiling rod in her first-floor room, allotted by her employer, this morning at 8 am. Her employer, Mr Harcharan Singh, told the police that the suicide came to light when he went to Babli’s room, when she did not report for work. He found her hanging from the ceiling rod and informed the police. The police sent the body to the General Hospital for a postmortem.

Mr Harcharan Singh told the police that Babli had last evening gone to meet her sister, Bindi, who was working in an other house in their locality. Bindi reportedly told the police that Babli was depressed of late.

The police handed over her body to the family after a postmortem examination.



Thieves decamp with cash, jewellery
Tribune News Service

Mohali, September 7
Thieves decamped with cash and gold ornaments worth Rs 34,000 from the house of Dr T.S. Sohal, president of the Residents Welfare Association, Phase X here.

According to the police, the incident took place yesterday when the house was unoccupied. The family returned yesterday afternoon and found the house burgled. Mr Sohal complained to the SP, Mohali, and a case was registered today.



Craft bazaar at Lajpat Rai Bhavan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 7
A craft bazaar, bringing together a plethora of artisans from all over the country and organised by the Geetanjali Welfare Society for the promotion of craftsmen, is on at Lajpat Rai Bhavan, Sector 15, Chandigarh, till September 12.

The bazaar brings together the best of handloom and handicrafts from across the country, including some fine lacework from Tamil Nadu, delicate shell-work from West Bengal, crochet from Andhra Pradesh, Narayanpeth and Indori checks from Pune and ceramic pottery from state award winner Shamim.

Along with the specialities from the states, stalls offering bric-a-bracs, costume and silver jewellery, mats, durries and bed linen and even a churan/supari and rangoli stand are on offer. The exhibition is on from 10 am to 8 pm.


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