C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Mayor, councillors fail to meet Rahul Gandhi
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

The city Mayor, Ms Anu Chatrath, flanked by councillors, waits to meet Mr Rahul Gandhi at a hotel in Chandigarh on Tuesday
The city Mayor, Ms Anu Chatrath (second from right), flanked by councillors, waits to meet Mr Rahul Gandhi at a hotel in Chandigarh on Tuesday. — Tribune photo by Manoj Mahajan

Chandigarh, September 13
In a city where politics is yet to take deep roots, bureaucrats rule the roost. This was proved yet again here today when councillors of the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh(MCC) were allegedly given a raw deal and kept waiting by bureaucrats and members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee of Home Ministry at Hotel Shivalikview for about one-and-a-half hours.

And to add insult to injury, the councillors’ repeated attempts to meet a Congress MP and a scion of the Gandhi-Nehru family, Mr Rahul Gandhi, proved futile.

Mr Gandhi was whisked away by the SPG personnel and even the Mayor, Ms Anu Chatrath, supposed to be the First Citizen of the city, failed to have any meeting with the young leader, much to the embarrassment of the Congress.

The councillors’ “ordeal” began around 5.30 p.m.—the slated time for their meeting with the committee, headed by the BJP firebrand Rajya Sabha member, Ms Sushma Swaraj. Even as the bureaucrats presented the city’s vision to the committee members, it was a long wait for the councillors, the elected representatives of city residents.

Ironically, the elected local representatives were made to wait by the 11 MPs from across the country. The raw deal at the hands of the MPs supposed to gauge public opinion was all the more hurting, alleged a councillor.

As the wait took its toll, the Congress councillors made futile attempts to meet Mr Gandhi, who emerged from the “back door” in a clear bid to escape the media. However, even before he could acknowledge the greetings of the councillors, he was led away by the security men.

In the meantime, Chandigarh Administration officials remain closeted with the MPs inside. Mercifully, the corporation was represented by the Commissioner, Mr PS Aujla, at the meeting.

Meanwhile, in a representation to the committee members, the councillors raised several issues like extended term of five years for the Mayor and issue of SC certificates.



Rahul Gandhi disappoints supporters
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 13
Rahul Gandhi who was in the city today in connection with the visit of the Parliamentary Standing Committee was a big disappointment for his party supporters who clamoured to have his attention.

The young scion of the Gandhi family landed in an aeroplane and went straight to the residence of Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), the UT Administrator. Clad in a white kurta-pyjama, the Member of Parliament walked straight into the conference hall at Hotel Shivalikview.

At around 6.30 p.m. Rahul came through a door alternate to the entry point and went straight into his car. He said hello to a couple of supporters, including Mr Chandermukhi, a councillor. Mrs Anu Chatrath, Mayor, and Mr Harmohinder Singh Lucky, another councillor, literally forced themselves on the car of the departing leader and greeted him.



Admn comes in way of allotment of flats
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 13
It is a case of being all dressed up but nowhere to go. Hundreds of multi-storeyed flats of cooperative house building societies, which have been ready for the past several months, cannot be allotted as the Chandigarh Administration has put its foot down on the draw of lots.

With the Administration not recognising substitute members for the draw of lots, their wait for the dream house is proving to be endless. In fact, tired at the delaying tactics of the Administration, representatives of certain cooperative house building societies have representated to the UPA Chairperson, Ms Sonia Gandhi, and the UT Administrator, Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), to intervene in the matter.

In the representation, the societies claimed that they had taken no financial help from the Administration. The entire amount on the construction of flats and infrastructure, including internal roads, sewerage, drinking water supply and the fire-fighting system, had been spent by the societies themselves.

It has been argued that most of the amount on the construction and infrastructure has been contributed by the substitute members. Even the Chandigarh Housing Board(CHB) had accepted the land cost from the substitute members. Still the Administration was fighting shy of accepting them as members of the societies.

The Universal Society is a case in point. After trying for at least three times to hold the draw of lots, members approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The case will come up for hearing on September 15.

About 115 societies were given land for the construction of flats at the market rate of Rs 2,850 per yard. In view of the sudden increase in the land prices by the Administration, a majority of the society members surrendered their membership as they were not in a position to pay the enhanced rates.

Following this, the societies were in a dilemma as they had to pay the land cost to the CHB and the cost of construction within the stipulated time frame. Under the circumstances, the societies were left with no alternative except to substitute the original members with new members.

A representative of a society claimed that the new members were added according to rules and regulations laid down under the Punjab Cooperative Act, under which the societies were registered by the Chandigarh Administration. The approval of the general bodies of the societies concerned was taken for substituting the new members, he contended.

Meanwhile, the representation added that the Registrar of Cooperative Societies(RCS) had framed a membership substitution policy following a Punjab and Haryana High Court directive. The RCS letter clearly authorised the societies to substitute members.



Revise category-IV flat prices, HC tells CHB
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 13
Allowing an appeal filed by several city residents, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the Chandigarh Housing Board to redetermine the prices of Category IV flats in Mani Majra keeping in mind the broad principles laid down in judicial pronouncements.

Delivering the verdict in an open court, the Division Bench, comprising Mr Justice H.S. Bedi and Mr Justice Viney Mittal, also dismissed the appeals filed in the matter by the Chandigarh Housing Board.

In their petition, Mr Mathura Prashad and others had initially contended that they had applied for the flats at a price of Rs 2.43 lakhs. After some delay, an offer was made to the allottees to take possession of the flats. But the overall price, earlier determined at Rs 2.43 lakhs, was increased to Rs 4.20 lakhs. On the other hand, the Housing Board claimed in its reply that the prices of the flats initially fixed by them was only tentative.

After hearing the arguments in the matter, a Single-Judge Bench of the High Court allowed the petitions filed by the allottees, but granted them a limited relief, resulting in the filing of the appeals by them and the Housing Board.

During the course of arguments, a senior counsel submitted that in light of a Division Bench judgement, it was open for the allottees to challenge arbitrary fixation of prices. 



MPs find city administration “unapproachable” 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 13
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Chandigarh has expressed its dissatisfaction over the working of the Chandigarh Administration, describing it as ‘unsatisfactory’ in terms of its ‘approachability to the common man’. Though, the Chandigarh Administration tried hard to convince the 11-member parliamentary delegation about its ‘pro-people’ stance, the members, including Chairperson Mrs Sushma Swaraj, termed its functioning as one from which ‘a lot more was expected’.

Barring Mr Rahul Gandhi, all other delegates endorsed Mrs Swaraj’s views by keeping mum during her press conference. She, however, made it clear that she did not come to the city with any pre-conceived notions, but her opinion was an outcome of meetings with several city representatives, including trade and industrial associations, political leaders and other leaders.

She opined that the people she had met felt that the actual participation of the elected representatives was badly missing from the scene. For this she blamed the officials of the administration saying that ‘even though elected by the people, such persons have been deliberately kept away from the decision-making process”.

Coming out with a possible solution to the problem, the Chairperson of the delegation said “one of the options could be to have a Vidhan Sabha here like the two Union Territories of Delhi and Mizoram”. She added that the parliamentary delegation also felt that the city could explore the option of having a Chief Commissioner.

“Residents feel that the UT Administrator was very difficult to approach by a common man. In such a case the post of a Chief Commissioner will be a very good solution”, she said.

Mrs Sushma said “We have not yet made up our mind on the issue. We are concerned with the delay in public hearing under the current system where the officers ruled the roost. We will have an in-house discussion on the issue and submit the report to Parliament which will most likely be put on the agenda of the session of Parliament in December”.

She said the parliamentary delegation was studying the public demand for promoting the importance of the legislative bodies. She said they would also hear the officials of the UT Administration and then submit their report on the issue.

Earlier, during the day an All-Party delegation from the city met members of Parliament and highlighted their woes. It was pointed out that administration had left little scope for public participation in decisions on public matters. The Advisory Council had very poor representation of the political parties. It was also pointed out that the elected leaders have a better grasp over the public issues.

The Chandigarh Industrial Association submitted a memorandum asking the administration to reduce the rate of conversion in the Industrial Area. The Administration has fixed a rate of Rs 18,000 per square yard for those seeking to covert their industrial plots into commercial plots. The rates were very high, it was pointed out.

Representatives of government teachers pointed out that the UT teachers had no proper seniority list which hampered their promotions. The Chandigarh Scheduled Castes Welfare Association said employees who got jobs after 1966 had not been offered the certificates concerned. Senior Citizens said portions of residential dwellings at a number of residential places had been demolished in the name of implementing the building bye-laws.

Certain allottees of the Chandigarh Housing Board said they had not been allotted their houses despite the fact that they had paid all instalments. The Chandigarh Beopar Mandal also gave a memorandum seeking representation in the Municipal Corporation.

The team members accompanying Mrs Sushma at the conference included Mr Prabhakar Reddy, Mr Brij Kishore Tripathi, Mr Brij Bhushan Sharan and Mr N.Jyoti, besides others. Mr Rahul Gandhi arrived later and went straight into the conference hall.



Admn to revamp power distribution, panel told
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 11
The Chandigarh Administration is actively working to upgrade the existing police system into a ‘modern police force’ keeping in mind a people-friendly approach. This was pointed out by a senior official of the Chandigarh Administration in his presentation before the Parliamentary Standing Committee of the Home Ministry here today.

The proceedings were presided over by Mrs Sushma Swaraj, chairperson of the Standing Committee.

Sources said that Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, the local Member of Parliament, said that there was a need to institutionalise the public redressal system. He said that the city should have a setup on the pattern of a Pradesh Council for effective administration. The council should have sufficient powers to exercise financial and budgetary expenditure control, besides participation in the planning process. There should be a selection committee for employment in Chandigarh. Currently, this was being done through the UPSC which delayed the process. He also sought certain relaxations in the existing bylaws.

Mr Rahul Gandhi, a Member of Parliament, was highlighted the need for a more effective education and health care system.

The Administration, in its presentation, had highlighted revamping of the power distribution infrastructure.

This would be done to ensure an uninterrupted power supply. The Administration was working on popularisation of the solar power in the city.

Certain other major projects included : substitution of physical interface by e-interface with citizens; rehabilitation of slum dwellers; desilting of Sukhna Lake; creation of a second lake; decongestion of traffic by a mass rapid transport system; elevated road from Transport Chowk to Housing Board Chowk; and development of infrastructure in the third phase and periphery of the city.

It was also pointed out that planned urban development could be a financial success as was the case with Chandigarh.

The city was able to partly fund its plan even without getting a share of the Union taxes.

The city had a positive resource position on the non-plan side. It was also pointed out that Chandigarh was in the process of evolving a self-sustaining development model.

A senior official of the Administration said that the officials were open to public hearing and an effective system had been incorporated to redress public grievances.

The gross expenditure of the city increased from Rs 640.88 crore in 2000-2001 to Rs 972 crore in 2004-2005. Total revenue for the city had increased from 669.24 crore in 2001 to 960 crore in the budget estimate of 2005.



Haryana to announce new labour policy
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, September 13
The Haryana Government is in the process of formulating a new labour policy. The draft policy has been discussed with various industrial and labour organisations and the it would be unveiled soon.

This was stated by the Finance Minister, Mr Birender Singh, while addressing a press conference here today. He said the policy aimed at creating an environment for better labourer- industrialist relations. “The credibility of the Labour Department will also be improved through it,” he said.

The minister denied that the strike by Honda workers at Gurgaon had had a poor impact on the industrial growth, or that industrialists were weary of investing in the state.

Asked about the need for a CBI probe into the Gohana incident and the arson by Dalits at Panchkula, he said the state government had decided to hand over investigations into the two cases to the CBI, so that the truth could be brought out.

He said the incidents at Gohana and Panchkula should be looked in isolation and not blown out of proportion. “It is wrong to project these as a caste struggle between Dalits and Jats,” he said, in answer to a question if the two incidents could affect the poll prospects of Mr Deepinder Hooda from Rohtak.

In answer to another question, he said he had been unable to attend the Congress Legislative Party (CLP) meeting yesterday as he was in Delhi. “No political attributes should be accorded to it, or to my visit to Mr Bhajan Lal’s house. He had visited me recently, so I decided to pay him a courtesy call,” he said. He also said that the name of the state Congress chief would be announced after the Bihar poll.

He also said the government had approved the construction of a dam on the Ghaggar. It would solve the water scarcity problem in the district. A sum of Rs 100 crore had been earmarked for this, he added. He also said that Panchkula would be developed as an IT destination and an IT corridor would be set up here. 



Residents flay PUDA move to dig parks
Tribune News Service

Mohali, September 13
Residents of Phase 3B1 and Phase 3A here are up in arms against the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) for having “dug through” two corner parks of the area. PUDA officials said the digging was done in order to carve out slip roads at the traffic lightpoints around these sectors.

The two parks located on the extreme corners of each of the sectors abut Chandigarh’s boundary on the other side. Those living in the vicinity were shocked when PUDA’s contractors dug through the parks diagonally. The park’s grilled boundaries and landscape notwithstanding, the residents were pained to have their walking space rendered useless.

The issue, however, took a different colour by the evening when a former Chief Engineer of PUDA, now a superintending engineer with the authority, reportedly stopped the digging of the parks and reprimanded his own staff for having dug through parks to build slip roads. Sources pointed out that he told the staff to bypass the parks and then undertake the construction.

However, by this time the municipal councilor of the area, Mr Manjit Sethi, came to the spot and alleged that the PUDA SE was trying to hinder the “development work” being done in his ward. “There is no problem in the way the conductor is doing the construction. The SE is interfering with the work unnecessarily,” he said.



PUDA notices to defaulters for recovery of Rs 35 cr
Tribune News Service

Mohali, September 13
Stepping up enforcement measures, the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) today issued fresh notices to hundreds of defaulting allottees who owe almost Rs 35 crore to the authority.

According to a list of defaulters prepared by PUDA, the Pancham Cooperative Housing Society, Sector 68, is one of the biggest defaulters owing Rs 4.49 crore to PUDA. “Process has been set in to resume the properties of the persistent defaulters. The Pancham Housing Society and the United Cooperative Society, which also owes crores to PUDA, have been issued resumption notices,” said Mr Yashvir Mahajan, Additional Chief Administrator, Mohali PUDA. Although the Radha Soami Satsang (Beas) was listed as owing Rs 4 crore to PUDA towards payment of the external development charges of its land in Sector 76, sources in PUDA pointed out that since certain portion of their land was under litigation, they had chosen not to pay PUDA till the land was cleared of all encumbrances.

The Department of Rural Development and Panchayats owed Rs 3.64 crore for the land bought by the department in Sector 62. The Punjab Police was also one of the major defaulters. Other than Rs 1 crore it owed for the PAP complex in Phase XI, the police department had to pay PUDA Rs 1.3 crore for the multi-storey flats in Sector 66. Another Rs 6 lakh and Rs 1 lakh each was owed by the department for the police station in Sectors 57 and 62, respectively.

The Mohali Club, Sector 65, owed Rs 1.9 crore to PUDA. Among the educational societies which owe over a crore rupees to PUDA included the Gem Educational Society, Sector 60, Paragon Senior Secondary School, Sector 69, and the Trinity Educational Society, Sector 69. A host of other educational societies too had not paid their dues to PUDA. These included the International Christian Educational Society, Sector 61, Sherwood Convent Educational Society, Sector 59, Star Public School, Sector 69, National Educational Society, Sector 53, Sanjay Educational Society, Sector 70, Sher-e Punjab Educational Society, Sector 68, Aggarwal Educational Trust, Sector 69, Anchal Educational Society, Phase VI, Green Field Educational Society, Sector 59, Amandeep Educational Society, Sector 64, Global Educational Society, Sector 69 and Golden Bells School, Sector 77.

Sources added that some of these societies had not paid their dues following a stay by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. These societies had approached the court against PUDA alleging discriminatory terms of allotments.

Other than the Rs 25.8 crore that these institutions owed PUDA, another Rs 9.7 crore was owed by various allottees of commercials and residential sites. “We are seriously monitoring and enforcing the recovery from defaulters and those who do not pay by the stipulated date would face evictions,” said Mr Mahajan.



Computer workshop at KV-31
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 13
A computer training programme for principals, vice-principals and teacher administrators of all 60 Kendriya Vidyalayas of Chandigarh region will be held at Kendriya Vidyalaya, Sector 31, from September 14 to 18, according to Dr (Ms) S.P. Shergill, Principal of the school.

The main objective of the programme is to effectively implement the project think.com. which was initiated in April this year. The project aims at creating an effective web connectivity between the entire KVS structure — from the student level right up to the top administrators.

The teacher administrators will learn how to surf the Internet. They will also learn to integrate existing lessons/curriculum into think.com and will pass the training to teachers in their respective schools.

All think.com users will have free websites and e-mail addresses.



Air show on Sept 16
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 13
The Indian Air Force will organise an aerobatics show with nine Surya Kiran aircraft on September 16 at the airbase here. Besides, a static display of IL-76 and AN-32 aircraft and an MI-26 helicopter will also be arranged.

School and college students will be allowed to witness the show. Each school will be allowed 100 students. The entry to the show will be through the gate of the adjoining civil airport.

As safety and security measures, air force officials have insisted that no eatables, mobiles and cameras will be allowed. Children can carry drinking water and may don caps. They will have to reach before 4 pm.

The air show can also be seen from outside the airbase from Zirakpur, the SAS Nagar road adjoining Sector 47, High Grounds, Sector 48, and also from Industrial Area Phase I.



MC orders probe into poor sanitation work
Our Correspondent

Mohali, September 13
The Executive Officer (EO) of the Municipal Council has ordered an inquiry into a complaint regarding the alleged lack of proper sanitation arrangements in a part of the town. Mr Amarjit Singh Sekhon, EO, said today that he had asked the Municipal Engineer, Mr Tarsem Singh Rai, to look into the complaint and a submit a report within seven days.

Mr Sekhon said that the complaint was received from Mr Gurdev Singh, a sanitation supervisor working with a contractor. The complaint had alleged that the sanitation contractor was not engaging safai karamcharis in accordance with the agreement, which was adversely affecting sanitation in parts of the town. The complainant further alleged that a few civic body employees and certain municipal councillors had received illegal gratification in connection with sanitation with sanitation work.



Strike by UT staff on Sept 29
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 13
On a call given by the Federation of UT Employees and Workers, employees held a convention here today.
Addressing the convention, Mr Manmohan Singh, president, came down heavily on the privatisation policies of the Chandigarh Administration, which were having an adverse impact on the workers’ interests.

The general secretary, Mr Bhagmal Rana, alleged that the “anti-people” policies dictated by the World Bank and the IMF were playintg havoc with country’s economy.

The convention resolved to observe one-day token strike on September 29 as the Administration had failed to accept the long-pending demands of the employees.



Tribune employee dead
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 13
Mr Raj Kumar, camera operator in The Tribune, died here today after a brief illness. He was 53. He joined The Tribune in 1974. He is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter. His son, Tarun Kumar, is an employee of The Tribune.
The funeral procession will start from his residence House No. 2928, Sector 47-C, at 12 noon on Wednesday.



A clarification

In the news item published in the columns of Chandigarh Tribune on September 11, under the heading “International award for Raja Randhir Singh”, it was wrongly mentioned that the first recipient of this award was Gurbir Singh Sandhu.

Here Raja Randhir is the only sports personality after his father Raja Bhalender Singh to get the “Award of Merit” from the Olympic Council of Asia.



PO in rape case arrested
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, September 13
The local police today arrested a proclaimed offender wanted in a rape case registered against him in Chandigarh and an attempt to murder case registered by the Punjab Police.

Police sources said Sonu, who originally hails from Lonar village in Unnao district in Uttar Pradesh, was declared a proclaimed offender in 2002 after a rape case was registered against him in the Industrial Area police station in Chandigarh. Sonu had allegedly raped a minor girl from the city and had been absconding since then. He was arrested today by a police party from sector 33 and 45 dividing road.

The sources further added that after committing the crime in Chandigarh Sonu reportedly went to Sarabha Nagar in Ludhiana and began working as a domestic assistant. Later he quit the job. Then on January 4, 2004 during a robbery at a house in Ludhiana along with other accomplices he stabbed 46-year-old Jaswinder Kaur and 72-old-year Gurbachan Kaur while one other woman locked herself in a bathroom in order to save herself.

The Ludhiana police had registered a case of attempt to murder against the accused under Section 307 of IPC.



Maruti van stolen
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, September 13
A Maruti van and a motor cycle were stolen from the city. The police arrested two persons allegedly for indulging in gambling. Besides, a Sector 56 resident was held with 4 gm of smack and a theft of mobile phone was reported to the police.

Mr Chanaji Lal, a resident of Sector 23-C, lodged a complaint with alleging that his Maruti van (CH-01-C-2531) was stolen from his residence on Sunday night. In another incident, Mr Chander Shekhar of Sector 22-B reported that his Bajaj Pulsar motor cycle (CH-03-S-1353) was stolen from the parking lot of Rose Garden in Sector 16 on Sunday. Two separate cases of thefts have been registered.

Gambling: The Crime branch of the Chandigarh police arrested Ravi Kamar, a resident of Sector 38-A, from near his residence allegedly for indulging in gambling on yesterday. The police has seized Rs 1,200 from his possession. In another case, a Mauli Complex resident, Durga Dass, was held on the allegations of gambling at public place yesterday and seized Rs 190 from his possession. Two separate cases under the Gambling Act have been registered.

Held with smack: The local police yesterday arrested Darshan Singh, a resident of Sector 56, on the charges of possessing 4 gm of smack. The accused was arrested from Palsora and a case under Section 21 of the NDPS Act has been registered.

Mobile stolen: Mr Ajay Dogra, a resident of Khudda Ali Sher village, filed a complaint to the police alleging that his mobile phone was stolen from plot no 5, Sector 19-B, last evening. A case of theft has been registered.

Dowry: Ms Kusum, a resident of Sector 40, lodged a complaint with the police alleging that her husband Sandeep Kohli of Phase I, Mohali, was harassing and maltreating her to bring dowry. She was married to Sandeep in November 2003. Similarly, Ms Manjit Kaur, a resident of Indira Colony, Mani Majra, reported that her husband Jaswant Singh of Balmiki Mohalla, Hallo Majra village, was harassing her to bring dowry. Two separate cases have been registered.



Dalit violence: CBI records statements
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, September 13
The four-member team of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), investigating the arson by Dalits here on September 2, today recorded statements of several persons from Rajiv and Indira Colonies.

The team also met the bus drivers of the Haryana Roadways buses, which the mob had attacked on the morning of September 2. The two drivers were questioned and their statements recorded by the investigating team.

Later in the day, the team visited Rajiv Colony and Indira Colony, from where the mob allegedly came out and indulged in violence. Sources say that the team had already identified certain youths from the video clipping of the incident, that the police had submitted to them earlier. 


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