C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Landlords can evict tenants
SC ruling on non-residential premises
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, October 12
In a judgment that brings cheer to property owners in the Union Territory of Chandigarh and might compound the problems of tenants, the Supreme Court has ruled that landlords in the city can evict tenants from leased out non-residential buildings on the ground of personal needs as the existing law does not provide them any protection.

Deciding a bunch of appeals by tenants against the Punjab and Haryana High Court judgement holding that tenants had no protection of law against eviction in the city, a three-Judge Bench of Mr Chief Justice R.C. Lahoti, Mr Justice G.P. Mathur and Mr Justice P.K. Balasubramanyan ruled that under the East Punjab Urban Rent Restriction (EPURR) Act, 1949, extended to the Union Territory of Chandigarh by an amendment Act passed by Parliament in 1974, a landlord can seek eviction of a tenant from a non-residential building on the ground of his own use of the premises.

Dismissing over half a dozen appeals of tenants against the December 2000 order of the high court, the apex court ruled that the tenants could not seek protection on the plea that the 1949 EPURR Act was amended in 1956 under which such a protection was provided to them because the amended law was struck down by the apex court subsequently in the Harbilas Rain Bansal case, holding it violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.

“...it is not possible to read the EPURR Act, 1949, in a manner in which it was amended by the 1956 Act but has to be read as it originally stood which contained a provision giving right to a landlord to seek eviction of a tenant from a non-residential building on the ground of his own use,” said Mr Justice Mathur, writing the judgement for the Bench.

“Read in any manner the inevitable consequence is that the word Act occurring in Section 2 of the Chandigarh Extension Act (1974) has to be read as the EPURR Act, 1949 as it stood before the 1956 Amendment. The result that follows is that in the Union Territory of Chandigarh it is open to a landlord to seek eviction of a tenant from a non-residential building on the ground of his own use,” the court clarified.

Upholding the findings of the high court as correct interpretation of law, it further said that the “Act has to be interpreted in a just and equitable manner. To completely deprive a landlord of his right to seek eviction of a tenant from a non-residential building even on the ground of personal use for all time to come would be highly unjust and inequitable to him.”

The case has to be looked into totality as by the Extension Act as under it the entire EPURR Act of 1949 was made applicable to Chandigarh, not only some specific provisions of it. “It is in fact a case of extension of an Act to a territory to which it was previously not applicable,” the court said, rejecting the submission of the counsel for tenants that the 1949 Act was only incorporated in the Extension Act.

The foundation to the case was laid with tenant O.P. Vij contesting the eviction notice to him by his landlord. The Rent Controller, however, had allowed the eviction, which also was affirmed by the Appellate Authority. Vij challenged the order in the high court, but he died during the pendency of the case and as a result, his son Rakesh Vij contested it as heir of his father in the tenancy, but the high court dismissed his petition. Identical orders were passed by high court in several other cases and all the tenants had filed appeals in the apex court.



Two UT cops promoted out of turn
Affected personnel may move court
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu

Chandigarh, October 12
The alleged “out-of-turn promotions” of two Inspectors as DSPs in the Chandigarh police and the “manner in which the orders were passed” have led to a “lot of heart-burning” in the police force.

Terming it as an attempt to favour “a particular officer”, several police personnel are claiming that the seniority list and their interests had been ignored in the process. The officer, they add, was close to a senior Haryana politician.

Though senior UT police officers are tight-lipped on the issue, sources in the police headquarters say at least some officials, directly or indirectly affected by the orders, are considering the feasibility of moving the court against the decision.

Some officials are also in the process of preparing a representation for submitting it to UT Administrator-cum-Punjab Governor, Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd). The sources add that the order will affect all, even those way down on the seniority list, as the next promotions will be ordered only after the retirement of officers occupying DSP’s posts. As of now, all 12 vacancies are full.

Denying the allegations, those close to the promoted officers claim that the “correct procedure”, laid down in the Punjab Police Service Rules, was followed. The promotions were in accordance with the merit list, they add. The UT Administration ordered the promotion of two inspectors, KIP Singh and Prem Singh Malik, late last evening. Those affected assert that the orders were “well-timed”. Inspector KIP Singh, in charge of the Crime Branch, has been promoted and posted as DSP (South) and Inspector Prem Singh Malik has been promoted and posted as DSP Traffic.

The officers allege that the orders were issued at about 11.30 pm on the Dasehra eve to prevent any attempt by the affected police officials to move the court against the promotions.

Giving details of the seniority list, they add that Inspector Parmod Kumar was on the top of the list followed by Inspector KIP Singh, Inspector Jasbir Singh Cheema, Inspector Shivraj Singh Sidhu, Inspector Sandal Singh and Inspector Prem Singh Malik. A CBI inquiry is pending against Inspector Jasbir Singh Cheema and Inspector Shivraj Singh Sidhu is facing a departmental inquiry.



Mohali to get 1,500-acre IT corridor
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, October 12
The Punjab Government will set up 1,500 acres of IT corridor in Mohali and consider the constitution of Industrial Development Authority on the pattern of Noida for the township.

These issues will be part of the agenda of a meeting to be chaired by the Chief Minister Punjab, Capt Amarinder Singh, to be held on October 18.

Other than the Rs 200 crore set aside by the Punjab Government for the improvement of infrastructure in the township, Rs 200 crore has been proposed to be sanctioned for the upgradation of the government institutions of higher education and heathcare in Mohali.

At least 1000 acres of land are required in and around Mohali to cater to the demand put forth by various IT companies across the nation for establishing IT and IT-related services in the area. How the government intends to meet this demand and other vital issues related to infrastructure and connectivity in Mohali and surrounding areas for the IT sector will also be discussed during the meeting.

The agenda also includes various bottlenecks that are coming or expected to come in the way of these developments. Other than the availability of land, the need of reliable power supply, good quality roads, drinking water in industrial area, adequate availability of high quality manpower resources would be discussed.

The major works that the government intends to carry out in this pocket at the cost of Rs 172. 5 crore include shifting/relocation of jhuggis, external peripheral services, internal services and augmentation of city-level infrastructure.

The MLA of Kharar, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, who will attend the meeting has suggested that issues regarding the expeditious installation of the approved 220-KVA grid station to ensure power supply in Mohali, construction of mini-secretariat in Mohali, construction of new bus terminus, upgradation of the Civil Hospital, Phase VI, and completion of City Centre, Mohali, should also be taken up at the meeting.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh pointed out that Mohali would need more linkages with Chandigarh, strengthening of the Kharar-Banur road, strengthening and widening of the Kharar-Mohali road, construction of a four-lane road as bypass from Sector 39, Chandigarh, to Kharar, strengthening of the public transport system, development of commercial pockets, heath facilities and hotels.

Other than the areas identified in the Mohali Master Plan for the IT industry, QuarkCity is developing up to 5000 acres of land for the development of industry. This area is expected to be beyond Mullanpur on the Kharar side and Banur on the Rajpura side. Similarly, a biotechnology park is expected to come up around Dera Bassi.



Neighbours rape deaf married woman
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, October 12
A 30-year-old married and hearing impaired woman has alleged that she was repeatedly raped by her two neighbours late last night in Colony Number 5, here. To add insult to the injury, the police did not pay heed to her husband’s repeated requests and only registered a case of rape late in the evening after a number of people protested.

The ordeal for the dumb and partially deaf victim began last night when her one of her neighbours Shibu, an auto-rickshaw driver, forced his entry into her residence along with another man around 1 am last night. Both intruders allegedly repeatedly raped the victim till about 3 am and left her in a semi-conscious state. After gaining consciousness, she tried to awaken her neighbours, but failed. She was left with no option but to wait for her husband’s arrival.

When her husband return from his job, the victim, a resident of K Block in the colony expressed what had happened with her through gesticulations. Her husband immediately went to the police post in the colony. But he had to reportedly return disappointed as the constable on duty told him that the officer had gone for his meals. He went to the police again after a while, but to no avail.

In the evening he went to the Sector 34 police station, but met with the same fate. When he reached the police station again around 4 pm, the police officers were still unwilling to listen to him.

When the SHO of Sector 34 police station was asked about the delay in matter, he said the police was busy in an accident case. Thereafter, the police acting swiftly sent the victim to the Sector 32 Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) for a medical examination.

A case of rape has been registered against the accused named by the husband of the victim. 



MC lists 91 water bill defaulters
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 12
The Municipal Corporation (MC) has listed 91 water bill defaulters whose pending dues ran into more than Rs 1 lakh each. Notices were issued to all defaulters and a sizeable number of defaulters have deposited the money.

The corporation has disconnected 15 water connections of parties which did not respond. A majority of the defaulters have been warned of disconnection of their sewerage connections as well. Interestingly, 13 departments of the corporation, which is the bill collecting agency, have also been issued notices for non-payment of their bills running into more than Rs 91 lakh.

The list of defaulters include departments of Punjab and Haryana Governments, UT Administration and Municipal Corporation, besides a number of private consumers. The erring departments of the corporation include the Cremation Ground, Horticulture, Roads Division and nursery.

A senior official said, “The matter pertaining to the MC departments has been settled as the amounts have to be adjusted in the internal records only”.

Defaulters on the list of the Central Government buildings, including the Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, have settled the pending amounts.

The departments of the Chandigarh Administration which feature on the list include 25 names, including an office of Animal Husbandry Department in Sector 19 and a number of offices concerned with the Horticulture Wing. Notices for disconnection have been served to more than half a dozen parties.

Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, Sector 25, has settled pending bills worth more than Rs 7 lakh.

Punjab Government institutions have seven names on the list including Punjab Press, Civil Secretariat, Punjab Raj Bhavan and Punjab Government Police Barik, besides others. All pending bills have been settled. Haryana Raj Bhavan, Sector 6, was on the list of defaulters as well with a pending amount of Rs 3.96 lakh. The bill was subsequently cleared.

There are at least 37 private consumers who did not settle their bills and have subsequently been served the notices. As many as 11 water connections have been disconnected in this case.

A senior official of the administration said, “The departments of different states and the UT settle the bills easily compared to the private parties. In the first place, we will like to see how bills in certain houses ran into more than Rs 1 lakh. They should have been settled much earlier.”



Sachin inaugurates physiotherapy clinic
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 12
“I am thoroughly impressed with the idea this clinic is coming up with. It was the requirement for the fitness and it would be a stepping stone for pain management and rehabilitation. These types of clinics are rare in our country”, master blaster Sachin Tendulkar stated while trying his hand at pedalling a stationary bicycle. Sachin was here to inaugurate the Pain Management and Physiotherapy Clinic in Sector 22 here today.

Through this unique combination of medicine and sports coupled with interaction at high professional and technical levels, Dr Ravinder Chadha, a former captain of Haryana Ranji Trophy team for nearly two decades, has developed a unique expertise in pain management and fitness.

As a former physiotherapist of the Indian cricket team in 90s and Director of Medical Services of Haryana Power Utilities, he has vast experience of overall medical management.

“Being a national level player I am fully conscious of the pain and agony of muscle tissues and joint injuries. Through my extensive touring abroad I am able to pick up the skills of pain management and physiotherapist’s best practices prevailing worldwide. That is what my clinic offers,” said Dr Chadha.

Besides, having specialisation in sports and soft tissue injuries, the clinic would provide treatment for back and neck pain, injured or frozen shoulder, joint problems and like post-knee replacement and fracture.

Describing the kind of treatment his clinic will offer, Dr Chadha said, “The treatment will be mostly non-invasive through electrotherapies like ultrasound, short wave diathermy and interferential traction etc. Clinical guidance will be given on fitness, weight reduction through exercises and trigger-point massage. Injection and dry needling would be other methods to cure, if need be.” 



Some city roads get step-motherly treatment
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 12
The Chandigarh Administration has learnt to play favourites with the city roads and get away with this partial attitude. There is no reason that explains the recarpeting of some roads and others being allowed to become virtual death traps.

Every time a VIP arrives here, the Engineering Department of the Chandigarh Administration or the Municipal Corporation work overtime to relay the roads and paint the brims and poles with fresh coats of paint. Madhya Marg between the PGI and Matka Chowk and the road from Matka Chowk to the Punjab and Haryana Civil Secretariat are examples of road that can be called favourites.

When the Prime Minister was to inaugurate the Chandigarh IT Park, all roads leading to the park from the Punjab Raj Bhavan side were turned into a driver’s delight. But just a few yards away, the road between St Kabir School and the Sector 26 Grain Market roundabout was just ignored. Incidentally, this is the main road that connects the traffic from the IT Park and Mani Majra with the rest of the city. To top it all, trucks and vendors have encroached on the entire road, seemingly in connivance with officials of the administration.

Similarly, the road to the Mani Majra Housing Complex was widened almost a month ago, but it is yet to be metalled. Several people, especially two-wheeler riders fall while manoeuvring the turn and get injured daily.

There are many other roads in the city which are equally bad. The one leading from the Sector 31/32/29/30 roundabout to Mohali is full of potholes. This is now the main road used by Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh Roadways buses travelling towards Ropar or Ludhiana. Even the road leading to the West of Sector 38 from the Mohali side is deplorable.

The Chandigarh Administration and Municipal Corporation have been playing the ‘blame game’ and accusing each other for the plight of the roads. Hardly a day passes without some fatal accident, many a time due to bad roads. 



Protest threatened over hiked water charges
Our Correspondent

Mohali, October 12
Members of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) and municipal councillors belonging to the opposition group have demanded the immediate withdrawal of the hike in water and sewerage charges, failing which residents will hold a major protest outside the Municipal Council Office on October 14.

The members of the committee, which has been formed by various welfare bodies, at a press conference here today said the hike in water and sewerage charges was totally unjustified as the residents had already paid development charges and now the government was putting unnecessary financial burden on them.

They said the worst affected were residents of one-kanal houses who had received water bills ranging between Rs 2,000 and Rs 3,000. The civic body had violated Article 14 of the Constitution by charging different rates for different type of houses.

They said residents were not getting adequate supply of water. People living on the first and second floor houses in certain pockets had to carry water from the ground floor. The quality of water supplied was also not up to the mark. Sewerage lines remained choked and residents had to get these cleared by paying from their own pocket.

Seven municipal councillors belonging to the opposition group will also stage a protest outside the civic body office. They said the proposal was cleared even though they opposed the implementation of the revised rates at a meeting of the general house.

The Consumers Protection Forum, too, has written to the Punjab Chief Minister, to the Minister for Local Government and to the Finance Minister to withdraw the revised water and sewerage charges. The town developed from the money collected from buyers of plots who had already paid development charges.

Representatives of the JAC pointed out that inner roads were in a bad shape. The small parks in residential areas were also in a state of neglect and some of these had become dumping grounds for garbage. Sanitation was far from satisfactory as safai karamcharis worked only once a week, they alleged.



Ravana torched, symbolising victory of good
Arvind Katyal

Chandigarh, October 11
It was around 6 pm, when Wednesday’s sunset also marked the victory of good over evil with the burning of the effigies of Ravana, Meghnath and Kumbhkarana watched by thousands of people in the city. Most grounds and markets were flooded with people. Today’s celebrations evoked a massive response from Chandigarhians for the Dasehra celebrations held at more than 30 places in the city. The moment ‘Lanka dehan’ was over, it was time for the first effigy to be burnt. It took not more than 10 minutes for the effigies of Kumbhkarana, Meghnath and Ravana to be burnt with the aid of fireworks.

Shouts of cheer from children rent the ground. They had accompanied their parents in large number to witness the show. A girl aged six years was heard asking her father if Ravana was a bad man. Balloon sellers did brisk business. At many places, traffic came to a halt, due to heavy rush of onlookers who had parked their vehicles in front of the venue of the Dasehra. The police had a tough time restoring the movement of traffic. The Parade grounds in Sector 17 witnessed a huge rush of visitors.

In Sector 46 Subzi Mandi grounds, where Dasehra celebrations were organised by the Sanatan Dharam Committee, special attraction was the showering of flowers by a glider on the devotees. Children were also happy to have a glimpse of Mickey Mouse who distributed candles and small toys to them.

In Sector 51, child artistes celebrated the festival with fervour. Master Sukanth, with the help of his friends, burnt the effigy of Ravana.

The other venues where Dasehra was celebrated were the Sector 34 exhibition grounds, Sector 46 Subzi Mandi grounds, near the Law Grounds, Panjab University, Maloya Colony, Cricket Grounds, Sector 52, near Government School, Dhanas, Sector 32 D Market, near Delhi Public School, Sector 40, Railway grounds, Mauli Jagran, Zeeri Mandi grounds, Mani Majra, Ramlila grounds, Sector 27, near AKSIPS School, Sector 41, Parade Grounds, Sector 17, OCF Estate, Sector 29, Nehru Park, Sector 22, near Shastri Market, Sector 22, near GMSSS-26, near railway station, Chandigarh, Kisan Mandi grounds, Sector 33, Sports Complex, Maloya, near Sector 38- West, near Valmiki Mandir, Sector 24, near CRB School Arya Samaj Mandir, Sector 7, Burail village and Mauli village.



Part and parcel of Ramlila for generations
Gayatri Rajwade
Tribune News Service

Rajinder Bagga dressed as Lord Rama, a role he has played for the past 25 years.
Rajinder Bagga dressed as Lord Rama, a role he has played for the past 25 years.

Chandigarh, October 12
Playing God! Clad in a vibrant sunshine garb, tinsel and tassel depicting the gold befitting a royal personage, a glittering mukat crowning the head, a fluffy haar — all the razzle-dazzle at variance with the expression, one of utter serenity and sobriety — 43-year-old Rajinder Bagga is ready to for his performance, as Rama.

As the confrontation and battle between Rama and Ravana ends today, this earnest man, who runs a tailoring outfit in Sector 22, stands out for his single-minded devotion to this role. “To be involved with the Ramlila year after year gives me great pleasure.” However, this year is special for it marks 25 years, the silver jubilee, of his act. He holds the unique distinction of having played the same role for the maximum number of years and is also featured in the Limca Book of Records along with his father and his son — for three generations of the same family essaying the same role for 44 years.

Playing this central character is, in a way, a gift bequeathed to him by his father Sohanlal Bagga, who first took part in the Ramlila, in 1961 — he played the role of Sita! However, in 1962, he first portrayed the role of India’s most famous god and never looked back. As part of the oldest Ramlila celebrated in the city at the Sector 17 Parade Grounds, the Bagga family believes this is an endowment from the gods themselves.

“My son Gaurav played the role of Master Rama earlier but now he is too tall and so he plays the other minor roles. My wish is that he should one day take over from me.” The proud father in him cannot resist for the role brings with it certain responsibilities and a great deal of respect. “Lots of people, even elderly people come up to me, touch my feet and my hand automatically goes up in a blessing. It is an exalting feeling. I find that whatever I wish for comes true, but the wish has to be sincere and pure.”

Hailing from Jalandhar, the city has given Bagga more than he could have asked for. “All I want is to be a part this Sri Ramlila Committee for as long as I can.”

For, life revolves around Ramlila and this is no mean task. Rehearsals start a month before the performances and have to be strictly adhered to for pulling a performance for 10 days is not easy! “I do not eat meat, smoke or drink. If I am a good person only then will it reflect in my performance. This a gift from God, how can I be frivolous about it.”

What is it about Ramlila that still holds the people in its grip after so many years have passed? “It is a continuation of our traditions, our beliefs and our faith.”

The evenings have a heady champagne nip to the air and those steaming cups of tea seem welcome as Bagga’s spirited performance brings this epic alive. When the cantankerous sounds of melas and the resonance of the Ramlila pervade the space, this simple tale of good triumphing over evil is the centre of our universe for 10 days.



Schools celebrate Dasehra
Tribune News Service

Mohali, October 12
Doon International School was vibrant with Dasehra celebrations in the school grounds here today. The school exposed the students to their rich cultural and mythological heritage.

The school wore a colourful look as kindergarten students came dressed as characters from the Ramayana. Senior students presented Bharatnatyam and sang bhajans of Lord Rama. Different students spoke on the significance of navratras and Dasehra. Finally, a colossal effigy of Ravana was lit up by the students and staff of the school.

Anees School: Students of Anees School, Sector 69, here celebrated Dasehra. The management, Principal, staff and students of the school set afire an effigy of Ravana in the school premises marking the victory of the good over evil. The students were told about the importance of the festival.

Spring Valley School: The tiny tots of Spring Valley School here celebrated Dasehra. An effigy of Ravana was made by the students over the past week under the guidance of teachers. The effigy was then lit up by the students. The teachers explained to them the significance of the festival. They were told that the burning of Ravana marked the victory of good over evil and of truth over falsehood. 



Town bathes in festive spirit
Our Correspondent

Mohali, October 12
Dasehra was celebrated with great enthusiasm in the town here today.
Functions in connection with the festival were held at different places which were thronged by people in large number. The festival spirit could be seen all around as people attired in their best went to witness Ravana being put to flames.

The main function, organised by the local Dashera Committee, was held in Phase VIII where Mr M.L. Sharma, was the chief guest. Mr Kulwant Singh, president of the Municipal Council, presided over the function. The main attraction at this function was 65-foot-high effigy of Ravana which was put to flames after a scene of Ramlila was enacted.

Another function was organised in Phase I by the Ramlila and Dashera Committee where Dr Rana Harinder, Director, Department of Health and Family Welfare, was the chief guest.

The Ankush Club had also held a function in Phase I.



Festive enthusiasm marks Dasehra 
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, October 11
Dasehra was celebrated at Valmiki Temple, Sector 24, by the Saraswati Dasehra Committee. Its members gave a call to help the Jammu and Kashmir earthquake victims.

Although the celebrations were a low-key affair because of the earthquake yet the festive enthusiasm was not sacrificed.

President of the committee Jai Ram Joshi asked devotees to support the people of Jammu and Kashmir in this hour of crisis. One must remember the teachings of Lord Rama, who sacrificed his life for society, he said.

The SSP, Mr Gaurav Yadav, presided over the function. He also asked people to follow the lessons given by the Ramayana.

Scholars explained the importance of celebrating Dasehra and its message to society.



Sector 5 hosts main Dasehra celebration
Our Correspondent

Panchkula, October 12
Gaiety and fervour marked the celebration of Desehra as people thronged the venues in Sectors 5, 15 and 19 to witness the effigies of Ravana, Kumbhkaran and Meghnath going up in flames. The main celebration was in Sector 5.

The Police had made elaborate arrangements. Over 15,000 persons gathered before 2 pm to witness the function organised by the Panchkula Dasehra Committee. The main attraction remained the “Lanka dehan”. A martial art show was performed by 14 students of the Department of Indian Theatre, Panjab University. Under the direction of their trainer, Narinder Pal Singh Neena, the students displayed daredevil actions of gatka fights.

The chief guest, Mr Kewal Garg, honoured the SDM, Mr Virender Dahiya, and the DSP Mr Manvir Singh on the occasion. 



Delimitation Board meeting makes little headway
Our Correspondent

Mohali, October 12
The first meeting of the Delimitation Board held here on Monday in connection with the delimitation of municipal wards for the forthcoming elections failed to make much headway with no decisions taken on various issues.

The meeting was held in the office of the SDM, Mr M.L. Sharma, who is the Chairman of the Delimitation Board. Mr Sharma said another meeting had now been called on October 24 as more time was needed to discuss certain issues.

According to sources, officials of the Department of Local Government (DLG) presented a delimitation draft prepared by them, to the members. As many as 31 municipal wards were earmarked, out of which 11 were reserved for women.

However, certain members, including the Kharar MLA, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, were not satisfied with the draft as it was based on the population survey carried out by employees of the DLG. The MLA reportedly objected saying that the survey was not authentic. He wanted the delimitation to be done on the basis of a survey done by the Census Department earlier.

It is learnt that voters of Guru Nanak Colony, Phase X, have not been taken into account by officials concerned on the ground that the colony was demolished by PUDA and residents were rehabilitated at a place which do not fall within the municipal limits.

The MLA said how could the voting right of the displaced people be taken away. More time was needed to discuss the issue at length.

The sources said the president of the municipal council wanted the members of the board to give their clearance on all issues so that elections could be held before the term of the present elected body expired on November 27.



Chhat’s solar light system defunct
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

The solar panel of the lighting system at Chhat village. (File photo)
The solar panel of the lighting system at Chhat village. (File photo)

Chhat, October 12
An investment of Rs 30 lakh and almost five years later, Chhat village’s only ray of uninterrupted light, the solar street lighting system, lies defunct. The frequent power failures in this village which boasts of the Chhat Bir zoo have only compounded the problems of the residents who maintain that the going gets tough after darkness descends.

Non-functional for nearly three years now, repeated requests of addressing the problem to the Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA) have failed to deliver the villagers from darkness.

The village panchayat alleged that the agency which installed the system under a Central Government-aided scheme had neither bothered to repair the street lights and system during the warranty period nor had they offered any guidance.

They held that the solar streetlighting system was installed with much fanfare by the previous Akali-BJP government as part of the Central Government’s scheme to promote non-conventional energy resources.

The solar system, said the villagers, was a political gift. But it proved to be a useless gift for them. It had rather occupied the village land, they added.

The village panchayat members disclosed that initially the system had worked quite well. Since the electricity was free at that time, no one appreciated its importance. However, the villagers realised the utility of the system only when the state government withdrew the sop of free electricity supply.

“We realised that the solar energy lighting system could help us light all major streets in the village without any cost. In addition, it had improved the security in the village which came as a big relief to us,” says villager Harpal Singh.

This politically active village which falls under the Banur constituency and is represented by Capt Kanwaljit Singh, former Finance Minister and senior Akali leader, however, could not enjoy this free supply of electricity to light their streets and corners for very long.

An official of PEDA said they had installed the solar system as a demonstrator project and the contract was given to a private party. The contractor not only provided free of cost maintenance during the warranty period, but also repaired the lights later on as well.

“We are not shirking responsibility but we have no funds at our disposal to carry out repairs or replace the missing wires and panels. So, we can’t be blamed for the non-functional system,” he stated.

The official claimed that some truckers passing through the village road, had cut off the wires. Some bulbs had been removed from the poles. A solar panel installed to store energy had broken down but the battery bank was lying intact.

The villagers, however, alleged that the contractor had removed the panel for repair and never returned it.

While PEDA remains non-committal about carrying out repairs, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, who zeroed in on the village for this pioneering project in Punjab, says, “It has nothing to do with lack of funds. This is the fate of every development work initiated by the Akali government. It’s all lying defunct today. The Congress government should think beyond political considerations and look at meeting the needs of the people who have voted them to power.” 



Post offices sell judicial stamps
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 12
The Department of Posts has started the selling of the non-judicial and judicial stamps at 14 post offices in Punjab, the Chief Postmaster General, Punjab and Chandigarh Circle, said here on Monday.

Addressing a press conference, Mr Puri informed that the BSNL had entrusted the work of verification of addresses of mobile phone customers at Chandigarh to the Postal Department.

Meanwhile, Mr Jaspal Singh and Mr R.C. Sharma were awarded the Dak Seva Awards in the Groups “A” and “B”. Mr Hari Mohan and Mr R.S. Yadav were awarded in the category of Assistant Superintendents.

Mr Sukhbir Singh and Ms Richa Sharma bagged the prizes in the assistant category. Mr Avtar Singh and Mr Prem Kumar were also given awards.



Four booked for assaulting man
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, October 12
The local police has booked four persons on the charges of assaulting a resident of Sector 38 here. Besides this, thieves decamped with electrical appliances, gold ornaments and Rs 2,000 from two houses in the city in the past 24 hours.

Giving details of the assault case, the sources said Mr Harvinder Singh, a resident of Sector 38, in his complaint to the police alleged that occupant of Scorpio Jeep (CH-03-H-7500) Harinder Singh, alias Suny, and three other unidentified persons thrashed him in the Sector 36 market last evening.

The accused reportedly fled the spot after the incident.

A case has been registered under Sections 307 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code in this regard.

Burglary: Mr Yaghbir Singh of Sector 35 lodged a complaint alleging that a CD player, a wrist watch and Rs 2,000 from his residence on Tuesday.

In another incident, Mr P.R. Negi of Sector 35 reported that two rings, a passport and other articles were stolen from his residence after breaking locks during the day time on Tuesday.

Two separate cases of thefts have been registered in this regard. 



Man crushed to death
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, October 12
An 18-year-old resident of Colony No. 5 was killed after a speeding Maruti Zen car hit his motor cycle near Sectors 44 and 45 dividing road today. The car driver reportedly fled from the spot.

Giving details of the accident, the sources said Manu, a menial worker, sustained multiple injuries and his head was smashed against the road in the accident. He was shifted to the Sector 32 Government Medical College and Hospital, where he later succumbed to his injuries. The car driver (CH-03-D-7998) reportedly sped away after the accident.

A case of causing death by rash and negligent driving has been registered against the unidentified car driver.



Navratra fair attracts lakhs
Our Correspondent

Panchkula, October 12
Over nine lakh devotees paid obeisance to Mata Mansa Devi during the Navratra fair which concluded here today with a yajna. Ms N. Bala Bhaskar Rao, IAS Commissioner, Mr Brijendera Singh, Balbir Singh, SP, Parveen Kumar IAS, Virender Dahiya SDM and City Magistrate Vandana Disodia were also present.

Deputy Commissioner Brijendera Singh disclosed that a sum of over Rs 14 lakh had been received as offerings till October 10. Besides gold and silver ornaments and other domestic goods. Over 50 lost children were restored to their parents during the festival.


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