C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Residents don’t care two hoots about traffic rules
376 motorists challaned
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh , October 13
City residents continue not to care two hoots about the traffic rules and regulations. Nothing else can explain the challaning of 376 motorists for various offences during a 36-hour-long drive launched by the Chandigarh police.

The drive came to an end on October 11. As many as 209 motorists were challaned for overspeeding, while another 167 drivers for other offences.

Though senior officers refuse to comment on the issue, sources in Sector 9 police headquarters here agree that the residents have learnt little from the awareness camps held from time to time in different parts of the city.

The sources add that the challaned drivers include as many as 74 motorists driving within the municipal limits after turning on the high beam, even though adequate warnings have been issued to them time and again.

In fact, announcements asking the motorists to switch over to low beam on well-illuminated roads within the city limits were made through the public address system at busy intersections throughout the city. The residents were told in clear terms that high beam was for highways.

Besides this, stickers against high-beam driving were pasted on the rear windshield of so many vehicles by the traffic police before they embarked upon the challaning drive. “Yet, the motorists failed to learn their lesson and continued to flout the rules with impunity,” the sources add.

In view of “large-scale violations” in the city, the traffic wing of the Chandigarh police has decided to further intensify the challaning spree in an attempt to nab the traffic rules violators

The sources assert that the emphasis of the special drive will now be in the areas having concentration of educational institutes, including Sectors 10, 11 and 26. Special nakas will also be set up by the police on the Madhya Marg.

Besides challaning motorists talking over the mobile phone while driving, the police will proceed against helmetless bike riders and those indulging in triple riding. A decision to set up barricades in these areas was taken during a high-level meeting held recently, the sources add.

They claim that overspeeding, drunken driving, use of high beam and mobile phones while driving continue to be major cause of accidents in the city. Quoting rough figures, the sources assert that as many as 2,203 mishaps occurred from January, 2000, till December last year.

In 2005, approximately 377 major and minor accidents were reported to the police till last month. Out of the total, 56 accidents were reported from different parts of the city in September alone. A substantial number of mishaps were caused due to these violations. 



No decision yet on bringing more villages under MC
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 13
While the four villages under the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation still crying foul over the lack of basic amenities, serious deliberations are being held in official circles to include another 14 villages in the civic body. There is an indication that four peripheral villages, which do not fit in to the urban character of the city, would not be included within the limits of the civic body.

Apart from political mileage to the party in power, the reported move could directly benefit hundreds of illegally-constructed dwelling units outside the lal dora of the UT villages. On being included within the MC limits, the administration would have greater control on managing vacant lands outside the lal dora. Carrying out demolitions within the villages would also be possible for the administration.

Sources said on the inclusion of around 40,000 additional voters would be eligible to cast their ballot in the municipal elections which were due in December 2006.

The delay in the decision on the post of the Chairman of the Zila Parishad and the delay in handing over the powers and functions to the Panchayati Raj institutions is being linked with the reported move to include the villages in the corporation.

Though there was no official confirmation about the deliberations, the sources confirmed that the issue was discussed during a recent meeting between the officials of the administration and the MC. Ms Anu Chatrath, Mayor of the corporation, said any such move to include 14 villages would put additional burden on the corporation. The villages could be included after they were developed as model villages, she added.

She, however, denied that the issue had been discussed with her. Some councillors confirmed that the issue was discussed between the Commissioner and the Mayor during a recent informal meeting.

The move has also gained momentum after the last months meeting of the Home Minister's Advisory Council in Delhi. The members of the council were scheduled to visit the city to review the decisions or the recommendations tabled during the meeting.

The sources said before MC elections, the exercise to delimit the wards would have to be undertaken.

Mr Didar Singh, Chairman of the Panchayat Samiti, said the administration had been delaying handing over more powers to the villages at the decision-making level. Apart from the budgetary provisions, no work manual has been cleared for the samiti. Functions like rural water supply, issuing of birth and death certificates, managements of rural schools, sanitation, social forestry, poverty alleviation programmes, diary and poultry have so far not been transferred.



Public needs to be made aware of Information Act
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 13
Day one of the Chandigarh Administration’s offices opening up to answer public queries under the Right to Information Act proved to be a poor starter. There has been negligible response.

Officials maintained that the idea was new to the public so it was going to take time before it got into the public mind. The general public, feels that very little efforts have been made to popularise the concept among the general public through meetings, lectures and demonstrations.

Councillors of the local Municipal Corporation feel that no proper notices have been put on notice boards of different offices for clarity about the procedure for questioning by the general public. Mr Pardeep Chhabra, former Senior Deputy Mayor, said that first of all a detailed note about the public rights and the way to get information needed to be given to people. The administration should first make people confident about the new right and assure them of a rightful response to their questions.

Mr Chandermukhi, Congress Councillor, said, “First the general public needs to be made aware of what it can ask. All political parties should be taken into confidence and a meeting called for drafting a paper to guide people about what they can ask and how”.

A senior Professor of Panjab University said “It will be interesting to watch how the UT officials reply to public enquires. It has been a trend here that in the absence of any major say of political parties, the administration seems to be ruling the roost.”

The Chandigarh Administration, in a press note has said it has taken all steps for implementing the Right to Information Act in the most earnest way. Central Public Information Officers, Central Assistant Public Information Officers and the Appellate Authorities have been designated in all the departments of the administration.

The administration has also taken steps for proactive disclosure of certain information under Section 4(1)(B) of the Act. The above information has been put on the notice boards of all departments and placed on the website of the administration also. A copy of the information is available with the Central Public Information Officers of various departments and the public can pursue the information available with the officers.

The fee has been prescribed under the Act for making application for the information to be supplied by the public authorities. A fee of Rs 10 has been prescribed as application fee, which has to be deposited by any person making an application to the Public Information Officer. In addition to it, Rs 2 for each page created or copied or actual charge or cost price of a copy in larger size paper will be charged. In case of samples or models, the actual cost will be payable. Similarly, for information provided in diskette or floppy, Rs 50 per diskette or floppy will be charged. In case of printed publications, the price fixed for such publication will be applicable.

For inspection of records, a fee of Rs 5 for each 15 minutes after the first hour will be chargeable. Any public person can request for any information connected with matters relating to any public activity or interest. No proforma has been prescribed under the Act and the public can use any format including handwritten application form.



Mohali set to have another SEZ for Ranbaxy
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, October 13
Even as the Punjab Government struggles to finalise a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) status for Amritsar, Mohali, is all set to get its second SEZ following the grant of SEZ status to 53 acres of Quark City.

Ranbaxy Laboratories Limited has proposed the setting up of a “product specific” pharma SEZ on 80 acres here with an investment of Rs 265 crore.

One of India’s largest pharmaceutical companies, Ranbaxy, already has a production unit here and now proposes to set up a world class pharma facility expected to emerge as a preferred destination for export oriented pharma industries, including R&D facilities.

“The proposed zone would provide a reliable and cost-effective solution to pharma companies in terms of fiscal advantages and close proximity to talented and economical work force,” states the company’s proposal sent to the Department of Industries and Commerce, Government of India, through the Punjab Government.

Ranbaxy would develop the 80 acres of land it owns in sector 76 Industrial Estate here. While Ranbaxy and its associates would set up a large tablet manufacturing facility on this land, a part of it would also be given to other pharma companies to set up their product units within the zone.

With an investment of Rs 265 crore, the company is expecting an annual export turnover of Rs 1160 crore. The SEZ is expected to provide employment to 1400 persons.

An SEZ status for a particular industrial belt is deemed foreign territory for tariff and trade operations. Getting an SEZ status thus means getting a host of exemptions. All SEZ units and SEZ developers are exempted from the payment of Sales Tax/VAT, purchase tax, octroi, electricity duty on power purchased from the Punjab State Electricity Board, stamp duty and registration fee on purchase of land by developer for establishing SEZ and first sale of plots/land in SEZ and education, infrastructure or any other cess.

Manufacturing and marketing brand and generic pharmaceuticals and active pharmaceutical ingredients, Ranbaxy’s proposal states that there is a shift towards the use of generic formulation from branded formulations globally. “The proposed SEZ, because of the various fiscal and other advantages it offers, will help in tackling the pricing pressures being faced by the India pharma companies,” states the proposal.

Ranbaxy has recently also sought incentives from the Punjab Government as part of the mega projects cleared by the empowered committee of the government headed by the Chief Minister.



Deaf woman rape case: one held
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, October 13
Taking a prompt action after the media highlighted the alleged rape of a deaf and dumb woman of Colony No. 5, the local police today claimed to have solved the case with the arrest of the prime accused. The other accused is still at large.

Giving details of the arrest, DSP (South) KIP Singh said on the basis of information provided by the complainants, the police zeroed in on 25-year-old unmarried Gopi, alias Shibu, a resident of K Block of the colony.

He was arrested from near old jail road. The other accused, identified as Santosh, is still absconding.



Passing Thru

Aseem Kaushik
Aseem Kaushik, All-India Business Head, Professional Division, L’Oreal India Pvt Ltd.

Tell us about your visit to Chandigarh?

I am here to launch Strands, a flagship salon of the Matrix brand of products which I handle. Matrix is America’s number one professional hair-care brand and L’Oreal acquired it in the year 2000.

When was Matrix launched in India?

The brand was launched in Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata in February this year. We are now expanding into Chandigarh next since this city has a large student population, and people here are very aware and in sync with the fashion trends across the world. It is also a test to see how we fare in the mini-metros across the country.

What is a professional hair-care brand?

These are products sold and used inside salons only. In fact, what makes Matrix unique is that it is backed by our network of training/education centres. This is the ideal opportunity for salons in the city to learn about professional hair colour treatment and hair care.

What is Matrix offering to its customers here?

We have introduced a wide range of hair colour, Socolor Beauty, that also includes hi-tones, special ‘hi-lift’ shades for dark Indian hair, along with Biolage Therapies natural ingredient shampoos, conditioners, liven conditioners, hair sprays, mousse and gels. We will be adding other varieties and services soon.

— Gayatri Rajwade



UT clarifies on promotions of Inspectors
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, October 13
Forty-eight hours after two city police Inspectors were promoted as DSPs, the UT Administration today clarified that the relevant rules and instructions have been strictly followed.

An official release said the promotions were carried out on the basis of the recommendations of the Departmental Promotion Committees (DPC). As per the guidelines, each DPC decides its own methods and procedures for objective assessment of the suitability of the candidates. While merit has to be recognised and rewarded, advancement in an officer's career should not be regarded as a matter of course, but should be earned by dint of hard work, good conduct and result-oriented performance as reflected in the Annual Confidential Record and based on strict and rigorous selection process.

Adding to this, the press release stated that the average confidential reports cannot be regarded as complimentary to the officer as such a performance is regarded as a routine one and undistinguished. It is only performance that is above “average” and performance that is actually noteworthy, which entitles an officer to recognition and suitable rewards in the matter of promotion.

The press statement further clarified that to evaluate the officers, a DPC is constituted comprising of 3-4 officers of different departments, so as to ensure that the assessment of the officials is done in the most transparent and objective manner. The service record and the confidential reports earned by the officials form an important part in the promotion process.

In the case of promotion to the post of Deputy Superintendents of Police also, the DPC has considered the service record of Inspectors. The DPC also took note of the criteria being followed by the Punjab Government, under which a numbering system is prescribed for the evaluation of Annual Confidential Reports. In the previous meeting of the DPC, which recommended Shri Daya Nand, Inspector, for promotion also, the very same instructions of government were taken into account.



Inspectors shuffled
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, October 13
Inspector Satbir Singh has been shifted from the Operation Cell as Station House Officer (SHO) of the Sector 17 Police Station and Inspector Vijay Kumar from VIP Security to in charge, Operation Cell.

Meanwhile, Inspector Jagbir Singh, SHO of Sector 36 police station, has been posted as in charge of the Crime Branch and in charge of the Economic Offences Wing. Inspector Ishwar Singh Mann has been posted as SHO of the Sector 36 police station.



Installation of electronic meters irks residents
Say these run faster than mechanical meters
Kulwinder Sangha

Mohali, October 13
A controversy has arisen over the installation of electronic power meters in the town with consumers raising a hue and cry over “inflated bills” and the PSEB authorities describing the claims of residents as baseless.

Although PSEB officials concerned have described the consumers’ apprehensions as “unfounded” saying that electronic meters were very sensitive to the power load, the latter say that the new meters run faster than the mechanical ones which were earlier in place. Residents say that the power bills in many cases had doubled.

Representations have been made to the PSEB authorities, the Finance Minister and even the Chief Minister by various welfare bodies in this regard.

The president of the Consumers Protection Forum, Mr P.S. Virdi, wrote to the Chief Minister and other authorities yesterday that the electronic meters were installed by the PSEB without taking consumers into confidence. He said most of the gadgets in the houses such as refrigerators, geysers, fans and bulbs were basically mechanical in nature and did not technically match with the electronic meters.

The general secretary of the House Owners Welfare Society, Phase V, Mr A.S. Shyan, in a letter to Mr Y.S. Ratra, Chairman of the PSEB, gave the example of nine houses in the phase where the power bills received after the installation of new meters had more or less doubled.

Mr Shyan pointed out in the letter that electronic meters were running much faster as compared to mechanical one as these were faulty. He said an Executive Engineer of the power board had got six electronic meters checked out of which four were found defective.

Electronic meters were even installed in Haryana but the government had ultimately to remove all of them because they were found to be defective.

Mr Surinder Pal, Deputy Chief Engineer, PSEB, however, said electronic meters could not be defective as these had been tested before being installed. He said six residents of Phase VI had complained to the chairman of the board regarding the functioning of electronic meters installed at their premises. A special team of officials was constituted to check the new meters and the checking was done in the presence of the complainants. Out of the six meters, five were found to be accurate while the seals of the sixth meter were found damaged.

He said electronic meter was the most accurate way of measuring the consumption of power. He said an increase in power bills was possible by 5 to 10 per cent with the installation of electronic meters as these were very sensitive to power load. He said that earlier meters had become sluggish with the passage of time and as such failed to record power consumption accurately. Moreover, they were theft prone. There were 29 methods of tampering elector-mechanical meters which were eliminated in the electronic meters.

He said consumers got inflated power bills because power tariff had been hiked from July onwards.



Valmiki’s works discussed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 13
A three-day national seminar on “Life and works of Maharishi Valmiki” was inaugurated by Ch Jagjit Singh, Minister for Local Bodies, Punjab, at Panjab University today.

Prof Devinder Singh, Director of the seminar and Chairperson of the Department of Correspondence Studies, welcomed the chief guest, Prof K.N. Pathak, Vice-Chancellor of the university, presided over the function.

Prof Satya Vrat Shastri, former Vice-Chancellor of Sri Jaganath Sanskrit University, also attended the seminar. A renowned scholar and writer on the subject, Professor Shastri highlighted the life and works of Maharishi Valmiki in his key-note address.

Ch Jagjit Singh in his inaugural address emphasised that poetry began with the great poet Maharishi Valmiki. Valmiki’s Ramayana has been the guide and inspiration for the people all over the world since centuries. His philosophy, teachings and ideas contained in the great scripture can lead to the moral upliftment of humanity and society, Ch. Jagjit Singh added.



AGM of ex-servicemen league on October 22
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 13
The annual general body meeting of the Indian Ex-Services League, UT, will be held on October 22 at 11 a.m. at Dr Ambedkar Bhawan, Sector 37. In a notice given under Rule 29 of the Rules and Regulations of the IESL, Major Prem Singh (retd), general secretary, IESL, has requested all members to attend the meeting.

Notice resolutions, points proposed to be moved and raised for the promotion of the welfare of ex-servicemen and their widows duly seconded by at least one member entitled to vote should be sent in writing to the general secretary by October 16.

Business transacted at the meeting shall include conformation of minutes of the last AGM, presentation of annual report and audited budgets among others. 



Phase III-A residents hold protest
Our Correspondent

Mohali, October 13
Residents of Phase III-A blocked traffic at a chowk in protest against the hike in water and sewerage charges here this evening.
Residents had earlier gathered in a park in front of the house of the municipal councillor of the area, Mr Manjit Singh Sethi.

They decided that they would not be depositing water and sewerage bills as a mark of protest. Later, they walked to a nearby chowk and blocked traffic for some time. Mr Sethi said the residents of his ward would also be participating in the protest to be held tomorrow outside the office of the Municipal Council.



Setia is MC Secretary
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 13
Mr S.K.Setia, Land Acquisition Officer, has been relieved of his charge and given the charge of the Secretary of the Municipal Corporation. He has also been given the additional charge of Joint Secretary, Finance, an official press release said here today.

He was currently holding the post of the Land Acquisition Officer, court cases of misuse, building violations and Periphery Control Act in the Estate Office (designated as Assistant Estate Officer (Appeals), besides the additional charge of the post of Joint Secretary, Finance.

The change has come consequent to the joining of Mr W.S. Goyat, an HCS officer as the Land Acquisition Officer. He has also been given the charge of Additional Inspector General of Prisons and Superintendent Model Jail relieving Mr R.C. Sharma of this additional charge. 



Rs 3.5 lakh stolen from parked car
Our Correspondent

Mohali, October 13
A sum of Rs 3.5 lakh was stolen from a car parked in the Phase VII market here today. The police, however, said Rs 1 lakh had been taken away from the vehicle.
According to information, Mr Harjit Singh Bhullar, a BJP leader, had parked his car outside a sweet shop in the area.

The bag containing money was kept under the seat. He went to the market for some time. Later he sent a servant to collect the money from the car who found the car window broken and the bag missing from the vehicle.

Mr Gurcharan Singh, SHO, said Mr Bhullar had complained to the police on the telephone that Rs 1 lakh was got stolen from his car. The complaint was entered in the DDR. He said later Mr Bhullar approached the police and said Rs 3.5 lakh were stolen.

In another incident, the police recovered a bag containing Rs 70,000 which was snatched from an occupant of a car in Phase VII today. According to the police, the bag belonged to Mr Balwinder Singh. It is learnt that Mr Balwinder Singh had withrawn the money from a bank.

When he went back to his car, two youths approached him. One of them started begging. In the meantime, the other snatched his bag and ran away. Mr Balwinder Singh raised the alarm. The snatcher was chased by some persons of the area who was later caught by the police. At that time he did not have the bag containing the money. The bag, which was hidden by the youth, was later recovered by the police.



Gold chain snatched
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, October 13
Two pedestrians snatched a gold chain from a woman in Sector 26. Mr Bachan Lal of Sector 26 Grain Market reported to the police that two unidentified pedestrians snatched a gold chain of his wife near the Sector 26 Satsang Bhavan yesterday. A case has been registered.

Truck stolen: Mr Dinesh Pandey of Sector 19 in Panchkula filed a complaint to the police alleging that his Tata 407 (HR-68-5122) has been stolen from Pipliwala Town in Mani Majra during the night of October 10. A case has been registered.

Injured: A motorcyclist, Parminder Singh of Rampur village in Ludhiana district, lodged a complaint to the police alleging that a Maruti car hit his motor cycle near Sector 17 ISBT yesterday. He sustained injuries in the accident and was admitted to the Sector 16 General Hospital. The car driver, Chaman Walia of Sector 49, has been arrested by the police and a case of rash and negligent driving has been registered against him. He was later released on bail.

In another incident, two cyclists, Mastkeen and Ahmed, both residents of Kajheri village, suffered injuries after being hit by an unidentified truck on Wednesday. They were shifted to the Sector 32 GMCH immediately. A case has been registered.

4 held: The police has arrested four persons on the allegations of indulging in gambling on Wednesday.

Krishan Kumar of Burail and Subash Chand of Azad Market, Sector 20, were arrested from backside of Azad market while Phool Chand and Shri Pat, both residents of Azad Market, were arrested from backside of Post Office in Sector 18. The police recovered Rs 100 and 90 from their possession, respectively. Two cases have been registered.



Migrant labourer’s body found

Mohali, October 13
The body of an unidentified migrant labourer was found in Phase VIII here today.
The body was lying in an open space near Gurdwara Amb Sahib in the area. It was in a decomposed state and sent to the Civil Hospital for a postmortem examination by the police. OC



Spice introduces recharge coupon at Rs 5
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 13
Spice Telecom has introduced full talk-time top-up flexi bucks for Spice pre-paid subscribers with no administration charges. The lowest value top-up flexi bucks is of Rs 5, which is also the lowest ever recharge coupon for pre-paid subscribers with talk-time worth the full amount. The top-up options are available from Rs 5 to Rs 219.

The Megatalk Tariff Plan and Team subscribers will get full talk-time validity on recharge coupons of the same denominations as above with zero validity. The MiniTalk Tariff Plan subscribers will get full talk-time on recharge coupons with denominations between Rs 5 to Rs 53 and zero validity.


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