C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Colonisers having ball in Zirakpur
Ghaggar bed giving way to colonies
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, October 1
Private colonisers here have been having a field day ever since a decision to include over 1,300 acres of land in the Notified Area Committee (NAC) of Zirakpur was taken by the Punjab Government.

So much so that even the Ghaggar riverbed and its embankments have not been spared.

Massive colonisation has started in the three villages of Peer Machchala, Gazipur and Kishanpur, as fields are being converted into plots for farmhouses, group housing societies and shopping malls.

Irrespective of the environmental impact or the threat to these plots because of the turbulent Ghaggar, embankments of the river (it generally swells in the monsoon and scours embankments) have now been carved out as plots.

Interestingly, with the land mafia (politicians, top police officials and bureaucrats from Punjab and Haryana) pouring its finances into this belt, the property prices have spiralled in the past 18 months.

Colonisers here confirm that the land prizes vary from Rs 6,000 to Rs 10,000 per sq yd (Rs 2.5 cr to Rs 5 cr per acre), as compared to Rs 1,200 per sq yd in 2003.

Sources in the Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat say that a large number of plots are being carved out on the Ghaggar riverbed.

It is only when one stands in this new colony being carved out in Peer Machchala, and looks backwards at Sector 20, Panchkula, that one realises that the land is at least 15-20 feet lower than the level of the neighbouring Panchkula.

Even the nature of soil and stones in this area reveal that it is part of the Ghaggar riverbed.

The colonisers, however, deny that the plots are being carved out on the riverbed. “The level of the land is low, but we will put plinth and raise the level before buildings are constructed,” they remark.

They are, however, unable to offer any explanation as to what will happen if water comes gushing down in the Ghaggar and the river floods this belt. It may be mentioned that each time the river swells in monsoon, this land, which earlier had standing crops, is inundated.

Interestingly, there was no road from Sector 20 towards this land under acquisition of the NAC, Zirakpur. But as the proposal to include the land in these villages in the NAC gained momentum last year, the colonisers, allegedly in connivance with urban development authorities in Panchkula, constructed a road leading to these villages from Sector 20.

Sources say it is only when the land is finally included in the NAC that pressure can be put on the colonisers for planned development.

“We can look into the matter only when the area is in our jurisdiction. Once it is included in the NAC, we will check irregularities and also ensure that wide roads are carved here,” said an official.



Molestation, rape bids on the rise
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
In the past 24 hours, the Chandigarh Police registered three cases of assault on women. Two, attempts were made to outrage the modesty of women. In the third case, a young girl was abducted by a neighbour.

Arminder Singh of Ferozepore was booked and arrested on the allegations of an attempt to outrage a woman’s modesty in the Sector 16 Rose Garden. A case under Sections 354 and 506, IPC, has been registered against him.

Laxman of Mani Majra was booked for the same offence. He was accused of attempting to outrage the modesty of a women at her residence. He too was arrested.

Dalip Singh of Sector 52 was booked on the allegations of abducting a girl residing in the same sector. A case under Sections 363 and 366 of the IPC was registered against him on the complaint of the girl’s father.

Though senior police officers were maintaining silence over the issue, police sources said that cases of abduction and molestation, even rape, were on the rise in the city.

Quoting figures, the sources say 41 cases of kidnapping and abduction had already been registered from January till August this year, against a total of 54 last year.

In August alone, eight such cases of abduction and kidnapping were reported to the Chandigarh Police. Mostly the victims were minor girls from slums colonies.

Eighteen rape cases were registered in the city in 2004.

The sources admitted that “statistics did not provide the real picture” as a large number of such cases remained unreported.

A city-based socio-psychologist said, “The fact that most of the time the molesters and assaulters got away Which encourages them to go ahead. Even in Chandigarh, so many girls prefer to keep mum even with family fearing adverse reaction. In the process, the hooligans take advantage of the situation.”



Mani Majra to have AIDS detection centre
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
The city will soon have another Voluntary Counselling and Testing Centre (VCTC) for HIV/AIDS detection. To come up at Mani Majra, the centre was planned some time back with an objective of covering maximum population in the UT and adjoining areas.

Ready to be launched now, the new VCTC will be inaugurated on October 18 by Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Ambumani Ramdoss.

The minister will be in the city on October 18 — the day when Chandigarh will launch a special initiative to combat HIV/AIDS in low prevalence areas.

Developed under the guidance of the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), the special initiative will involve the launch of several activities on October 18. The most significant among these will be sounding of AIDS alert by all organisations operational in Chandigarh.

An alarm bell will be sounded from the DC’s office on October 18. All government offices will follow suit. Individuals on roads will also be roped in — those driving vehicles will be asked to sound horns, while those on bicycles will be asked to ring bells.

The initiative involves a host of other things, including taking of a formal oath to combat AIDS by members of various sections of society. For the purpose, all school and college students will be sent oath copies, which they will be required to sign.

The opening of the VCTC is especially crucial as it will further facilitate HIV/AIDS detection in the city and around.

The centre will, for the first time, cater to the population in Mani Majra and Panchkula and adjoining slums like Mauli Jagran, Rajiv and Indira Colony, which are fast moving into the high-risk category.

The new VCTC will also offer testing facilities to antenatal mothers under the ongoing Prevention of Parents to Children Transmission of HIV/AIDS programme.

It may be mentioned here that till now all three VCTCs (in General Hospital Sector 16, GMCH Sector 32 and PGI) available for HIV/AIDS detection have been concentrated in Chandigarh.

There is no centre for population residing near Mani Majra and beyond.

The new VCTC will primarily target the uncovered population and will have two women and two male counsellors to attend to male and female visitors.



CBI grills Cong councillor
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, October 1
A Congress councillor, Mr Dalbir Singh, was again interrogated by sleuths of Central Bureau of Investigation today.

Sources said that his interrogation lasted for over three hours. A CBI Inspector, Mr Ajay Singh, reportedly questioned him about the involvement of senior Congress leaders in arson by Dalits here on September 2. 



Nagi says no to extension
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
Dr O.N. Nagi, Professor and Head of the Department of Orthopaedics, PGI, today declined the three-month extension in service given to him by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

In a circular issued by the ministry, Dr Nagi was given an extension from October 1 to December 31. However, Dr Nagi who would be soon joining Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi, as a senior consultant, said he had refused extension long time back.

So far no doctor in the PGI has been granted an extension. Dr Nagi has been the head of the department for the past 17 years and is one of the few doctors who have held the post for such a long time.



Passing Thru

Sapna Gupta
Sapna Gupta, Chief Consultant, Air Hostess Academy

How has the boom in aviation industry affected your business?

A number of private airlines have started operations in the country. So the need for for trained staff is more. The steady growth in the service industry, too, has created many job opportunities. Since we train people in accordance with international standards, business is certainly prospering.

A large number of academies, without requisite infrastructure, for imparting training in aviation sector, have cropped up. Comment.

We have always maintained the need for uniform guidelines for training. Many a times, people approach us saying that they failed to get a good placement after having completed training at another institute. Considering the growth in the service sector, there should be a governing body to frame guidelines and regulate standards for the courses.

What are your future plans?

— We propose to open three new branches of the academy in Punjab — at Amritsar, Jalandhar and Ludhiana. We also plan to start our overseas branches at Singapore and Dubai.

— Ruchika M. Khanna



Lieut-Gen Daljeet Singh takes over as GOC-in-C, Western Command
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
Lieut-Gen Daljeet Singh today took over as the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Western Command, Chandimandir, while Lieut-Gen K S Jamwal formally assumed charge as the GOC-in-C, Army Training Command (ARTRAC), Shimla.

Prior to assuming this, General Daljeet was the General Officer Commanding, 3 Corps in the north-east, handling counter-insurgency operations. General Jamwal was the Chief of Staff, ARTRAC and was officiating as the GOC-in-C since Lieut-Gen Deepak Kapoor moved to Northern Command on September 5.

On his arrival at Headquarters Western Command, General Daljeet paid homage to martyrs at the Veer Smriti war memorial. Thereafter, he inspected a guard of honour, presented by a contingent from his own unit, the 8th Light Cavalry. He was introduced to principal staff officers at command headquarters by the Chief of Staff, Lieut-Gen P K Grover.

An alumnus of the National Defence Academy, he is also a graduate of the United States Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth and the British Army's School on Infantry at Warmister.

Commissioned into the Armoured Corps in July, 1967, he has served as the Brigadier General Staff of a strike corps, Major-General General Staff at Command Headquarters during Operation Parakram and GOC of an infantry division in a strike corps, besides holding instructional assignments at the Armoured Corps Schools and the Defence Services Staff College.

General Jamwal, whose taking over coincides with the 15th Raising Day of ARTRAC is a gunner and was awarded the Sword of Honour at the National Defence Academy and a gold medal for topping the copurse at the Indian Military Academy. He was commissioned into 14 Field Regiment in December, 1967.

He has attended the United Nations Peace Keeping Course for Decision Makers in the United States and served a two-year tenure in the UN Mission in Angola. For his contribution, he was awarded the Force's Commander's Commendation Certificate.

During the 1999 Kargil conflict, he held the key position of Brigadier General Staff (Operations) at Headquarters Northern Command. Later, he commanded a division in the desert during Operation Parakram and then served at the General Officer Commanding of the Desert Corps.

During his tenure as the Additional Director-General Staff Duties at Army Headquarters, he made significant contributions to the UN Peacekeeping operations and foreign training teams of the Indian Army. An aviator, he is also the Colonel Commandant of the Regiment of Artillery and the Army Aviation Corps. 



Two Army officers, one JCO held in diesel scam
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
Two army officers and a junior commissioned officer have been arrested by the Jammu and Kashmir Police for their alleged role in a scam involving pilferage of diesel supplies meant for Army establishments in the state, it is learnt.

The accused are being held in a civilian prison in Leh. Sources said they were arrested about a week ago. They have applied for bail, but the decision on their application is not yet known.

In July, Army authorities at Leh-based 14 Corps had unearthed a massive scam, running in crores of rupees, to siphon-off oil supplies after several trucks were found to be ferrying water instead of diesel. Thereafter, Headquarters Northern Command had ordered a CoI into the matter.

The CoI had held the three blameworthy for their alleged acts of omission and commission and had recommended disciplinary action against them. This implied that they were to be tried by general courts martial.

After review of the findings and recommendations of the CoI, the Army had ordered recording of Summary of Evidence (SOE) in the case. SOE is a prelude to a court martial.

The recording of SOE is yet to begin as the accused are not available on account of their being in the custody of civilian authorities. Sources said the Army was now considering whether to go ahead with the courts martial or let the police and the courts deal with the case.

The police had also registered a case pertaining to the scam and were conducting their own investigations on account of dual jurisdiction and involvement of civilian truck drivers and agents.

On receiving a tip-off about oil being siphoned-off from tankers en route to Leh, the Army, in collaboration with the local police, laid a trap and seven water-filled tankers were impounded and their drivers arrested.



Munjal group sweeps PGI Employees Union poll
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
The Munjal group managed a clean sweep in the annual elections of the PGI Employees Union (Group B, C and D) for 2005-06 here yesterday.

In a direct contest for the posts of the president, the senior vice-president, the vice-president, the general secretary, the secretary and the treasurer, more than 64 per cent members of the union exercised their right to vote.

Out of about 2,700 registered members, 1,740 exercised their franchise.

S.P. Bhardwaj, head clerk, Department of Engineering, was declared elected as the president. He defeated Subhash Nirankari, principal secretary, Department of Cytology by 158 votes.

Makan Singh, senior cook, dietetics, was elected senior vice-president. He defeated Manohar Singh, hospital/sanitation attendant, Department of Pathology. Manohar Singh got 711 votes as opposed to 866 votes polled for Makan Singh.

Krishan Chand Gupta, TG III, Engineering, was declared elected as the vice-president. KK Yadav, xerox operator, was declared elected as the general secretary. He defeated Jagdish Singh Jaggi by 178 votes.

Rajesh Saxena defeated Balkrishan and Kundanlal for the post of secretary.

Mohinder Singh was declared elected as the propaganda secretary with 859 votes. He defeated Jarnail Singh (674) and Mohinder Singh (76 votes).

Arvind Kumar was elected organising secretary with 881 votes. He defeated Rampal by 181 votes. Ravinder Saini defeated his opponent Balraj Sharma for the post of treasurer by 199 votes.



Action plan to check spread of bird flu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
As a precautionary measure the Forests and Wildlife and Animal Husbandry Departments of Chandigarh Administration have drawn up an action plan to prevent the ingress of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (bird flu). The action plan also underlines preparation in the event of any outbreak.

An official press statement here yesterday said the Veterinary Department has already started interacting with the poultry industry for monitoring and surveillance of the poultry diseases. The development comes in reaction to the outbreak of deadly bird flue among wild geese at Qinghai Lake in Central China, where 1500 birds perished in May, 2005, from a strain of influenza that could create epidemic. Although H5N1 is a bird disease, it has stricken human beings in South-East Asia since December, 2003, proving fatal in certain cases.

There are possibilities and a potential danger that wild birds could carry the virus far beyond the lake in China to other parts of the world as Qinghai lake serves as a summer haven for wild birds that eventually head south, over the Himalayas, to India and Burma for the winter.

The migratory birds start coming to Sukhna Lake and adjoining water bodies on the onset of winter. To tackle with this situation, the Forests and Wildlife Department and Animal Husbandry Departments after holding detailed consultations and discussions have drawn up the action plan.

Under the plan Animal Husbandry Department will educate poultry farm people about the diseases and circulate a list of guidelines for implementation for prevention and spread of avian influenza. The technical staff of the Animal Husbandry Department will visit every poultry farm fortnightly and issue regular instructions.

Similarly the forest officials (Forest Guard and Forester) of Sukhna Lake will visit the lake (particularly regulator end) twice in a day where migratory birds are resting, roosting and nesting and to see any symptoms or mortality of any migratory birds.



Rodrigues extends helping hand to senior citizens
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
Striking a chord with senior citizens of the city, UT Administrator Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd) put his hand out in support of the elders today.

Responding to their heartwarming welcome with an open promise, he said, “You are my responsibility. Both my wife and I will continue to do whatever we can to make your lives comfortable.”

Speaking at a function organised by the Chandigarh Senior Citizens’ Association at the Tagore Theatre, he spoke of the need to bring in the senior citizens into the mainstream of society.

“You and I together have a role to play in the India of future if we are to realise our potential as a nation,” he said. Outlining his plan of creating groups of specialists that can sit with the Administration to take policy decisions, he also suggested identifying sectors like health, education and social consciousness where the common man can benefit from the participation of senior citizens.

He spoke of the creation of a panel of mentors, “where we could draw on you, your sagacity and your dreams of a better India”.

Lauding the efforts of senior citizens to lend a helping hand to their less fortunate brethren, he said he did not want anyone to beg or be dependent on charity.

The function began with an address by the president of the association, Mr P.H. Vaishnav. He said October 1 was a very important day in the lives of senior citizens the world over. “It is our Divali, Baisakhi and our Christmas,” he said.

He said the association was formed 10 years ago to raise the morale, alleviate loneliness and conduct programmes for senior citizens so that they felt they were productive members of society.

A souvenir was also released on the occasion. Those honoured included Avtar Singh Sidhu, Sheila Gohri, Kuldipak Lal (Panchkula), A.N. Sharma (Mohali), Rajvir Singh, Radhika Singh, P.H. Vaishnav, Maj-Gen M.S. Kandal, V.S. Sodhi, G.S. Anand, Sampuran Singh, Jamna Dass (100), M.L. Bhasin (99), Sanyukta Khanna (88),

Dr Margaret Mamgain and H.S. Nama.

Meanwhile, the inmates of the Sector 15 Old Age Home had a wonderful day out at Sukhna Lake on Saturday. The event was organised the HelpAge, St John’s School and CITCO.

The function was all about informal interaction and loads of enjoyment. As soon as they entered the lake area, they were greeted by students of St John’s School.

After some sessions of conversation with the students, the inmates progressed towards the next phase that involved the real joyride. Arranged by CITCO, the boat ride was a treat for many elderly although many others would have preferred another mode of entertainment.

Last but not the least came refreshments — well chosen and graciously laid out for the guests.

Present on the occasion was Mr Bhavneshwar Sharma, state manager, HelpAge, who utilised the occasion to inspire the gathering to help as many senior citizens as possible.



Adolescents lack awareness of traffic rules
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
A study on risk factors exposing adolescents in the city to road accidents has revealed a considerably low level of awareness about road safety measures among this segment of the population.

Conducted by the Department of Community Medicine, GMCH, Sector 32, the study covered about 800 adolescents from various city schools from Classes IX to XII.

The study revealed that 57.1 per cent students were caught for not wearing helmets, while 21.7 per cent committed the offence of driving without licence. It was also noticed that 22 per cent students were in the habit of using mobile phones while driving, over speeding was done by 29 per cent and 8.3 per cent of them consumed alcohol while driving.

Interestingly, equal number of males and females (12.7 per cent) did not possess valid documents for driving.

Meanwhile, 77.7 per cent of the students agreed to the fact that boys kept helmets on their arms to impress girls.

Conducted by a team of doctors and social workers, under the leadership of Dr H.M. Swami, it was observed that 62.4 per cent of the adolescents had been driving vehicles without helmets frequently, 59.5 per cent drive without headlight being switched on at night and 59.1 per cent do not wear seat belts while moving in cars.

Similarly, it was found that the use of motor cycle, scooter and car by students was higher in private schools as compared to government schools.

Also around 60 per cent of the students started driving after 12 years of age. However, maximum awareness among the adolescents was observed regarding rules to be followed at traffic lights (59 per cent), about zebra lines (39.5 per cent), rules for pedestrians (40.6 per cent), legal age of driving vehicles (56 per cent) and about speed limit (32.7 per cent).

A campaign to generate awareness about road safety rules has been undertaken by the GMCH. Various workshops to this end are being organised in city schools.



Sun eclipse tomorrow
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
An annual eclipse of the sun will occur on Monday afternoon. The eclipse will begin at 1.06 p.m. (IST) and will end at 5.58 p.m. (IST). It will be visible in India as partial eclipse throughout the country.

The general visibility of the eclipse is covering Eastern Greenland, Iceland, Europe (including the British Isles), Africa (except its Southern tip) and West Asia, including India.



Tribune Deputy Manager retires
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
Mr Satish Kumar Chopra, Chartered Accountant, Deputy Manager (Accounts) retired today after putting in 32 years of meritorious service.

The General Manager, Mr Sanjay Hajari and the Additional G.M. Mr O P Arora lauded his services and contribution to The Tribune and wished him a happy and healthy retired life. A farewell party was organised by the staff.



Burglars strike house twice, 2 held
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, October 1
Lady luck was surely smiling on Mr Sandeep Abrol last night. Thieves broke into his Sector 4 house twice last night, only to be driven away by the cops, thanks to his presence of mind. Nothing was stolen and two thieves were arrested.

Mr Abrol was alone at his house last night, when he heard someone trying to open the door of the air cooler and thus gain entry into the house through the cooler window of his room. Also he heard another noise of someone trying to break in the next room.

Mr Abrol said that he quietly tip-toed his way to the hall, and found someone trying to break in through the front door. He immediately called up his brother-in-law, Mr Vikas Jain. The latter informed the police and rushed to the house. The police Gypsies, too, arrived and arrested two thieves from the house.

Once the police had left with the thieves, Mr Abrol and Mr Jain sat down for a small chat. “Mr Jain left my house around 2 am. I had switched off the lights, when within 15 minutes, I again heard a man calling out to some pathan. He was asking pathan if the work had been done. I again called up my brother-in-law and the police. But by the time the police arrived, the thief had escaped,” he says.



Devotee’s purse snatched
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, October 1
A woman devotee at the Mata Mansa Devi Shrine today had a harrowing experience when a woman standing behind her in the queue snatched her purse containing gold jewellery worth Rs 40,000 and Rs 3000 in cash.

The incident took place around noon, when the woman, Ms Asha Khanna of Mohali, had come here to pay obeisance. She told the police that a dark complexioned woman, who was standing right behind her, pushed her and within no time ran away with her purse. Her purse contained two gold bangles, two sets of earrings, a chain and pendant, besides Rs 3000 cash.



Man booked for forging documents to get job
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
A Panchkula resident was booked on the allegations of getting job in the Punjab Accountant-General's office by producing fake documents, while a scooterist was injured in a road mishap during the past 24 hours. The theft of two vehicles was also reported to the police.

A spokesman for the police said a case of cheating and forgery under Sections 419, 420, 467, 468 and 471 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was registered against Rajinder Kumar for allegedly using forged documents to procure job. A complaint in this regard was forwarded by Mr Surinder Kumar Singla of Sector 10.

Scooterist Jaswinder Kaur of Sector 38 West was admitted to Sector 32 hospital after a car rammed into her vehicle. The accident took place near the Sector 39 mini market. A case has been registered.

In his complaint, Mr Deepak Chauhan of Sector 39 claimed that his Yamaha motor cycle (PB-70-0972), parked at a Sector 23 school, was stolen while Anil Mehta of Sector 44 said his Scorpio (CH-03-R-5151) was stolen from outside his residence. Two cases of theft have been registered by the police



Sparkling creations
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
Twinkles and glitters galore! With a broad range of necklaces, pendants, earrings and shimmering sets, OTM Sparkle 2005 delights with its array of crystal clear diamonds at a special exhibition-cum-sale in the city. Hallmarked and BIS certified, the sheer range runs a gamut of choices, be it casual wear or for a wedding trousseau.

Delicately perched in their settings, the 18-carat diamonds on display are all handcrafted by Bengali craftsmen in OTM’s own workshops in Delhi and Gurgaon. According to Mrs Anjana Gupta, who has brought the exhibition to Chandigarh, after successfully exhibiting at Kanpur, Lucknow, Agra and Delhi, “Our speciality is that we have a variety that is affordable. Since the manufacturing is our own, we bring our products directly to the customers at wholesale prices.”

There is a wide assortment of beautiful designs to choose from and all of it under one roof.

Particularly striking are the diamond earrings with delicate filigree work, petal, flower and shell shaped, starry and dangling. Divine pendants-Guru Nanak, Hanuman, Sri Krishna-make for pleasant gifts while mangalsutra pieces, half necklace pendants and even their haslis (neckpieces resembling the stiff silver anklets worn in villages) all make for attractive purchases.

Rhodium polished, close set patterns with precious and semi-precious stones like rubies, blue sapphires, emeralds, tourmaline add to the allure of the jewellery on display.



Mega shopping festival from Oct 4
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
As many as 12 Maruti cars are up for the grabs at the mega shopping festival, which will kick off at the oldest city market in Sector 22-D on October 4.

In fact the shopping festival, to be organised by the Market Welfare Association (MWA),Sector 22-D will also propagate the social messages on environmental conservation, blood donation, conserving water and drug de-addiction.

Giving details Mr Arvind Jain, MWA president, told a press conference here today that a series of events such as cultural programme by children on October 12 and mid-draw for six cars on October 30 would be the highlights of the gala event, which would have a budget of about Rs 40 lakh.

Besides, a “karvachauth tambola” for women and a blood donation camp on October 14 will also be held. The final draw on December 4 will see fire works and cultural programme by eminent artistes, he added.


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