C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Two corridors proposed for monorail service
Mass rapid transit system to link Chandigarh, P’kula, Mohali
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 23
The move to introduce surface monorail service connecting Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula took a shape today with the Administration proposing two corridors for the proposed system.

While one corridor would start from near the PGI and terminate at the Industrial Area, Panchkula, the other would start from the Punjab Civil Secretariat and terminate at the IT City, Phase VIII-B, Industrial Area, Mohali.

A meeting chaired by the Chief Engineer, Chandigarh, Mr V.K. Bhardwaj, and attended by officials from the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA), Rail India Technical and Economic Services Limited (RITES), New Delhi, and the Transport Department was held here today to discuss modalities of the proposed monorail.

Mr Bhardwaj said preliminary discussions were held during the meeting, but nothing could be finalised. “Representatives from RITES had been asked to work out feasibility of these corridors. The routes and stoppages in Chandigarh would be taken up for discussion later on,” he said.

Mr Bhardwaj said the cost, design and frequency of the train service between Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali would be decided in the future meetings.

Sources said state-of-the-art infrastructure, including modern railway stations and platforms, was being designed for the city and construction was expected to begin in the next financial year.

The Chandigarh Administration had in September signed a memorandum of agreement with RITES for the implementation of the mass rapid transit system. This was being done to cater to the ever-growing needs of Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali.

Under the agreement, RITES would provide consultancy services for the implementation of a mass transit system. The consultancy services would include preparation of a report, choice of technology, study of traffic pattern on various routes, preparation of tender documents, inviting bids, processing of bids and applications etc.

Meanwhile, the testing of the railway track between Chandigarh-Mohali-Morinda has started in the township. An engine is being used to test the strength of the track between these areas. Sources at the inspections site said goods trains could be started on this track by February next year. The laying of the track between the Chandigarh-Ludhiana rail link has been completed till Morinda. The construction of the Mohali railway platform is scheduled to begin early next year.



Car driver bullies scooterist, lands in jail
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu

Chandigarh, November 23
It doesn’t always pay playing macho and then posing yourself as a law-abiding citizen by turning up in front of the law claiming to be right.

A classic example of this was witness today when Dimple Singla, a car driver, allegedly bashed up Shashi Bhushan, a scooterist, for standing behind his car and then took him to the police station claiming that he had caught a guilty so that the police could follow-up on the matter.

Giving details, SHO, Sector 36 police station, Ishwar Singh Mann said the incident took place in Sector 61 around 10 am when Dimple hit the scooter while reversing his car in front of his house.

Shashi Bhushan, the scooterist, who works for a private bank, had gone to the locality to collect payments for the bank.

After the mishap, Dimple allegedly got agitated and started abusing Shashi for wrongfully parking his scooter behind his car.

Shashi tried to explain that it was in fact Dimple’s fault as he had not bothered to look in the rear before reversing the car.

Infuriated over this, Dimple allegedly entered into a heated argument with the scooterist and then physically assaulted the latter. In the process, Shashi suffered injuries to the limbs, said the SHO.

Adding insult to injury, Dimple then bundled Shashi in his car and took him to the police station.

The SHO added: “After hearing both sides and taking notice of the visible injuries, Shashi was sent to the General Hospital, Sector 16, for a medical examination. On the basis of the medical examination report, a case of criminal intimidation has been registered against Dimple Singla.”

The SHO further added that Shashi alleged in his complaint that Dimple had threatened him of bribing the police and getting a case registered against him.

Taking cognizance of the matter, Dimple was produced before a local court, which remanded him in three-day judicial custody. He was also reportedly denied bail by the court.



‘Visit Chandigarh’ drive to be launched soon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 23
The Chandigarh Administration will launch the “Visit Chandigarh” campaign soon for promoting the city as an important tourist destination in North India. This was stated by Mr Vivek Atray, Director Tourism, while addressing an interactive conclave on “Role of Media in Tourism Promotion” at Hotel Mountview here today.

The conclave was jointly organised by the Department of Tourism and the Chandigarh Tourism Club.

Mr Atray pointed out that over the past years the city had only been portrayed as a “Gateway to Himachal” and other places. “Under a reviewed work plan and support from the Centre, the city will definitely add to the number of visitors. The plan gains a greater significance in the context of the ongoing ‘Incredible India’ campaign of the Centre.

“The country has witnessed an increase of at least 30 per cent in the number of tourists coming from abroad over the past two years and the potential needs greater attention in the context of Chandigarh, a planned marvel of the modern times.”

The statement of Mr Atray gains importance in view of the recent appointment of a Director, Tourism, by separating the office from that of the Director of Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Development Corporation (CITCO).

A senior official pointed out that CITCO largely concentrated on it as hotel ventures which was distinctively a separate issue from that of promoting tourism.

Certain recommendations made at the conclave included promoting North India as a single destination, brining out a combined tourist guide, making a CD and documentary on the region and taking part in the domestic and international travel and tourism marts, exhibitions and fairs, etc.

Addressing the conclave, Mr Jagjit Puri, Managing Director, Punjab Tourism Development Corporation, said: “If the North Indian states are to develop a competitive edge over the rest of India, then we must collectively make efforts for promoting it as a complete tourist destination.”

Veteran travel writer Rabindra Seth said the media should not only help create an awareness of the attractions of a destination but also report about the facilities there to the readers. He said the main role of the media was to provoke people desiring to travel into actually travelling.

Mr Charanjit Singh, Executive Director of the Musitainment Network, made a multi-media presentation.

Earlier, Dr Gulshan Sharma, Secretary-General, Chandigarh Tourism Club, in his multi-media presentation highlighted the role of the media and said North India should develop its own brand like Incredible India. Lieut-Gen Ranjit Dyal (retd) proposed the vote of thanks.

Chandigarh is planning to market its name all over the country and abroad with a view to tapping the potential tourists. This was one of the recommendations made at the meeting of the World Travel Market, which was held in London from November 14 to 17.

The meeting was attended by Mr Krishna Mohan, Home Secretary, and Mr J.S. Bir, Managing Director, CITCO. Sources said the recommendations had been forwarded to Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), Governor of Punjab and UT Administrator, for his approval.

The approval of the recommendations is likely to be followed by a draft plan of action dealing exclusively with the promotion of Chandigarh as a “dream tourism destination”.



Rodrigues’ message on Gurpurb
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 23
UT Administrator Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd) has called upon the people to follow the ideals of secularism, humanism and sacrifice as preached and practised by Guru Teg Bahadar.

In a message on the martyrdom day of Guru Teg Bahadar, General Rodrigues said Guru’s supreme sacrifice was unique in the history of mankind and symbolised the triumph of good over evil.

He said that Teg Bahadar laid down his life to protect the right of freedom of worship and for defending the poor and downtrodden. 



Kidnap kingpin continues to elude police
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 23
Even after five days of “solving” the abduction-for-ransom case, the Chandigarh Police continues to be in the dark about the antecedents of “mastermind” Aman Verma.

Despite having a photograph of the alleged abductor, the investigators are struggling to break free from the cobweb designed by him.

Police sources said investigations in that regard seemed to have reached a dead end as establishing the identity of Aman Verma was giving sleepless nights to the officials of the special investigating team (SIT).

The mystery is deepening by the day as the investigating officials are counting on his pseudo names. The SIT has sought help of various national and international agencies in tracing him, but in vain.

Giving details of the investigations, a member of the SIT said the team had recovered several documents bearing false details of Aman Verma from his Sector 21 rented accommodation. These documents revealed that he used to live under five different names at various addresses in different cities in Punjab.

Inspector Satbir Singh, a member of the SIT, said the team had found certain documents in which Aman Verma had mentioned his name as Gaurav, Abhishek Vidyarthi, Ranbir Singh Gill and Rohit Kapoor.

During the searches, the police recovered a PAN card issued under the name of Ranbir Singh Gill, some credit cards of private banks and a Human Resources Development Officer’s document issued under the name of Aman Verma. Some certificates of various institutions, including one from a Delhi-based management institution, were also seized by the police.

About Mumbai underworld don Chhota Rajan’s name finding mention in the FIR, Mr Satbir Singh said the mere mentioning of someone’s name could not be taken as one being party in the matter. “We are investigating into this aspect also,” he added.

The police claimed to have traced the addresses at which Aman Verma had been living since 2003 in Chandigarh. For the past about six months, he had been living in a rented accommodation in Sector 21. On November 15, he had taken another accommodation in Sector 71 in Mohali. Nikhil Joshi was held captive in that house, said a police official working with the SIT.

In an attempt to describe the profile of Aman Verma, a police official said he had graduated from car thefts to cheating banks to abductions. He was deft in concealing his identity, he added.



Farm sector in crisis, says Haque
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 23
The farm sector is passing through a critical phase and if remedial measures are not taken, the crisis will become unmanageable in the next five years. This is what Prof T. Haque, Chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, has to stay about the present status of the country’s agricultural economy.

In an interview with The Tribune here today, Professor Haque, who has deep knowledge of agricultural economy and the latest developments in this sector at the global level, said it was the right time to correct the grave situation otherwise things would go out of control.

Listing the reasons for the worsening condition of farmers even in states like Punjab, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, Professor Haque said there was no growth in the income of the farming community while input costs were rising. Production was not increasing at the desired level. There was no focus on preparing a strategy to capture the world agricultural market by growing crops in which India could have the edge at the international level.

He said he had studied the report submitted to him with regard to suicides by farmers in Punjab. ‘‘Certainly, there is a problem on the farm front in Punjab and the farming community is feeling frustrated because the debt level is increasing’’, he added.

He said he had suggested some immediate remedial measures. Among these was to bring down the rate of interest to 7 per cent on loans advanced by various nationalised banks to farmers. If car loans could be given at 6 or 7 per cent, why could these not be advanced to farmers at the same rate of interest, he said.

There should be strategic planning to capture the world market in cotton and other crops where India had the capacity to compete with other nations growing these crops. For instance, Canada and Australia were producing oilseeds for export to countries like India under a particular farm strategy.

He said he was working to develop a new model to fix the minimum support price of various foodgrains which was invariably not accepted by farmers especially in states like Punjab, where the input costs were very high. The price was fixed on the basis of data presented to the commission by the Central Government department concerned. However, many states had been challenging the data presented by the department. For instance, this year, the commission fixed the MSP of wheat about Rs 100 per quintal more than that of the average production cost of the crop presented to him by the department. However, farmers of Punjab wanted that the price of wheat should have been fixed Rs 100 per quintal more than what it was at present. “I will try to change the methodology of fixing the MSP of wheat and other foodgrains”, he added. 



Lawyers’ rally over FIR against Chahal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 23
The District Bar Association of the District and Sessions Court today took out a rally in protest against the registration of an FIR against Mr Amar Singh Chahal, president of the Lawyers for Human Rights (LHRI).

After passing a resolution, condemning the action by the police, a delegation of the association marched towards the Chandigarh Police Headquarters. The SSP, Mr Gaurav Yadav, accepted the memorandum from them. “Mr Yadav assured us that Mr Chahal would not be arrested till the matter was probed”, said Mr Arvind Thakhur, general secretary of the association.

Terming the implication of the lawyer in the Naya Gaon rape case as “pressure tactics” for exposing the alleged “benami” properties of certain politicians and police officials in Kansal village, the LHRI threatened to take legal recourse for an independent probe into the alleged shady deals.

On the allegations of coercion for the preparation of an “affidavit in his Sector 8 residence on behalf of the Naya Gaon rape victim and her father, Mr Balkar Singh, Mr Chahal has denied that they were pressurised by him.

In fact, the affidavit was prepared in Hindi and was signed by Balkar and her daughter in the presence of the Oath Commissioner at the District Courts in Sector 17.



Baddi-Barotiwala belt could have been another Chandigarh
Ankur Bansal

INDIA is studded with several excellent industrial townships and more are being added to its existing domain so much so that it has ultimately won acclaim of being one of the largest outsourcing hubs of manufactured as well as other goods and services. This industrial development is mainly attributed to the joint efforts of the Central Government, the concerned state government and the industrialists who chose these destinations for setting up their dream projects.

The Central Government plays a leading role for the balanced development of all states. It was for this reason that the National Democratic Alliance in 2001 formulated an industrial policy for the states of Himachal, Uttaranchal, Jammu and Kashmir and the North Eastern states. Though the mandarins have been overpowered, yet they have brought about a metamorphic change in the landscape and the fortune of these states, particularly Himachal.

The punch of the policy (in case of Himachal): excise exemption for ten years, income tax holiday for first five years and 10 per cent for the next five years, central sales tax (CST) @ 1 per cent capital subsidy @ 15 per cent with a maximum limit of 30 lakh and transport subsidy. The icing on the cake was the availability of cheap power and above all 24x7 undisturbed power supply. The requirement to be fulfilled was the commencement of commercial production latest by March 31, 2007.

When the policy was made public, industrialists whether big or small, started thronging the most cherished industrial destination in the making, to book a place in the upcoming industrial hub. You guessed the name right. ‘Baddi’, a dusty, sleepy town in Himachal, would have never dreamt of its success story. Though Vardhman Group along with a few other industries had already made inroads in Baddi and the surrounding belt of Nalagarh and Barotiwala decades earlier, yet they couldn’t change the landscape and fortunes of the area much.

The biggest obstacle in the path of the early settlers was the Himachal Pradesh Tenancy and Land Reforms Act that allows only agriculturists of Himachal to purchase land in the state. The government later changed certain provisions of the aforementioned Act so that the land could be transferred in the name of the entrepreneurs or the company as the case may be. This brought about a change in the fortunes of the peasants, who owned large chunks of land, which was of little value before, but saw a sharp escalation in the market prices after the area was declared an industrial belt. The surrounding villages and hillsides have witnessed haphazard constructions ever since.

The property rates in and around Baddi have touched the circuit breaker. When the policy was declared the land cost was around Rs 1 lakh per bigha. Today the same plot costs around Rs 40 lakh a handsome appreciation of about 4000 %.

The state government should have acquired the area in and around Baddi, Barotiwala and Nalagarh and then develop the necessary infrastructure according to the needs of the industry and the people. Himachal could have boasted of a planned city like Chandigarh, Panchkula or Mohali where people love to settle down but the state has lost the opportunity once and forever. Sustainable development of an area depends on the planning and the efforts put in by the concerned authorities. On the contrary an unplanned expansion burdens and destabilises the growth story.

A blueprint for developing the Baddi — Barotiwala — Nalagarh belt should have been prepared by the state government. Areas for housing, commercial activities, entertainment and industry should have been planned. Other industrial and developed cities should have been used as models. Perhaps this was the best areas that Himachal could have developed on the likes of Chandigarh and Panchkula. It’s a pity that a majority of people have rented accommodations in Panchkula or Chandigarh due to lack of proper housing facilities. The house rentals in Baddi are more than that prevalent in these two big cities. A two-room set costs a minimum Rs 5000 and that too does not have the basic modern amenities.

Other infrastructure facilities like roads, transportation, education, hospitalisation, telecommunication, entertainment etc. are worrisome. Proper infrastructure is the backbone for any township to develop. There is an urgent need for a planned and eco friendly approach, if Baddi’s viability as an industrial hub is to be sustained. Though an unpopular step, it would save the town from total ruin, for something is to be done to strike a balance between environment and development.

With the burgeoning population, pressure on the land too is increasing and more than perceptibly. It is expending at a pace too unnatural for long-term sustainability. It is as though the original state and freshness of the place has been devoured by thoughtlessness that accompanies as a part of the ‘civilisation’ package. More traffic, more pollution, more dirt and filth, more buildings of glass and concrete have made the town everything but beautiful.

The writer is the Author of “Kasauli: pines, wines & old times”



Panel seeks rehabilitation of oustees
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 23
The Welfare Society of Landlords of 50 villages in the UT Capital Project have demanded that the Chandigarh Administration should implement the rehabilitation plan for the 5000 families of oustees on the pattern of rehabilitation plan being implemented for slum dwellers.

Members of the society said while the Administration was going all out in favouring the slum dwellers, who were outsiders , it had given a step motherly treatment to the villagers.

Pointing towards the recent scheme floated by the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) in Sector 49, the members said earmarking five flats at exorbitant rates was a cruel joke on the villagers whose land had been acquired for urbanisation in Chandigarh.

Mr H.S. Billing, general secretary of the society, said the families of the oustees wanted total rehabilitation. From 643 families in 1966, the number of such families had grown to 5000 now. He said so far only eight families of Kanthala had got oustees declarations and 126 applications had been lying pending since March 2005.

He said though the Administration had announced rehabilitation plan for oustees in Sector 63, but the same had not been implemented.



Revise minimum wages, say hotel workers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 23
The president and general secretary of the Hotel Workers Union, Mr P.N. Sharma, and Mr H.S. Gambheer, in a resolution have demanded a revision of minimum wages. They sought Rs 5,000 as minimum wages for an unskilled worker.

They condemned the hotel employers for not implementing the minimum wages fixed on October 1, 2001. “No employer has been given an increase of Rs 200 per month after every five years as notified in the minimum wages notification, they added.

They decided to start an agitation against the employers who had lost the court case in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The union demanded strict action against those hoteliers and caterers, who were evading service tax and showing losses where as CITCO doubled its gains during the same period.

It was decided to send 200 workers to participate in the rally of the All-India Trade Union Congress to be held in Delhi on November 26.



Art of Living satsang tomorrow
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 23
The Art of Living (AOL) will organise a satsang on November 25 at MCM DAV, Sector 36, Chandigarh. Shri Nitin Bhaiyya from Bangalore will conduct the satsang.

For those who have done the basic course, the AOL will organise a residential advanced course from December 1 to December 4 at Indira Holiday Home, Sector 24, Chandigarh.

For details contact the AOL office at the Red Cross Bhavan, Sector 16, Chandigarh.



Cops good only at challaning
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 23
The Chandigarh Police may be good at challaning motorists for traffic violations but when it comes to solving cases they are not dependable.

The fact that the cops are unable to trace 65 per cent of the vehicles stolen from different parts of the city is not the only indicator. In at least two criminal case registered by the police in the recent past, the cops are still groping in the dark, primarily due to unscientific approach adopted by them in the matters.

Though senior police officers prefer to maintain silence on the issue, the sources in the police headquarters admit that the cops are nowhere near the truth in cases pertaining to unnatural deaths of constables Jaswinder Kaur and Manmohan Singh.

The sources assert that though the help of Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) experts were taken in both the matters, the cops were not able to unravel the mystery shrouding the deaths.

Giving details, the sources say that the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh tried to work out the manhole-death case by following scientific methods of investigations, but in the absence of resources and expertise they were unable to do much in the matter.

Elaborating, the sources assert that a Municipal Corporation engineer tried to prove that constable Jaswinder Kaur’s body could not have reached Mohali’s Phase XI after falling in a Sector 30 manhole by dropping a sandbag in the gutter.

Subsequently, the corporation staff lowered a dummy of constable Jaswinder Kaur’s weight and size into the manhole in an attempt to reconstruct the events of the fateful evening. Though approximately Rs 40,000 was spent on preparing the dummy, it was not “upto the mark” — at least this is what the investigators claimed before refusing to accept the results of the test.

The sources add that the investigators could have themselves conducted the test with the help of a flexible crash dummy. “After all, the truth was at stake”, they assert. But experts looking into the matter preferred to just survey the sewerage lines.

In constable Manmohan Singh’s death case also, the cops simply assumed that the victim had fallen from the fifth floor of the police headquarters. No experiment was carried out by the experts to prove the theory.

The sources add that in foreign lands the investigators take pains to reconstruct the events in an attempt to reach the bottom of the truth even if it means spending a fortune on the same.

But truth remains in a state of suspended animation just because the cops are trained to use baton more than the brains, the sources conclude.



CRPF nursing assistants to get allowances at par with civilian counterparts
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 23
About 17 years after the government sanctioned patient-care allowance for para-medical hospital staff employed in central government organisations, uniformed medical staff in the Central Reserve Police Force has reason to cheer.

They will now be entitled to allowances that so far only their civilian or "non-combatised" counterparts were enjoying, without having to go to court to stake their claim. This comes in the wake of a directive passed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court last week on a joint petition filed by several affected service personnel.

While ordering the government and the CRPF authorities to act upon a legal notice filed by the personnel, the court has also directed them disburse the amount due, if any, forthwith.

The decision is expected to benefit hundreds of CRPF personnel all across the country, who besides being entitled to an additional Rs 700 per month, are also expected to get arrears since the date of the implementation of the allowance or from the date they joined the service.

A piquant situation arose in the CRPF after the government sanctioned the allowance. While "non-combatised" personnel were paid allowances, their combatised counterparts were denied the same. This was despite the fact that there was no difference in the role, duties and responsibilities of the two. The only difference was that combatised personnel wore the regulation CRPF uniform and are imparted arms training.

Following this anomaly, some affected personnel sought legal redressal to their grievance and the Home Ministry directed that the patient-care allowance be sanctioned only to those in whose case a favourable verdict is passed by the various courts.

This had peeved the para-medical staff, which questioned the logic and purpose of every affected person individually knocking the doors of the judiciary to claim his rightful dues.

Terming the action of the government as arbitrary and discriminatory, the petitioners had contended that it was prima facie in contravention of the principle of equality. They also cited a Supreme Court judgment in a case concerning the central excise department, which stated, "When a citizen aggrieved by the action of the government has approached the court and obtained a declaration of law in his favour, others in like circumstances should be able to rely on the sense of responsibility of the department concerned and to expect that they will be given benefit of this declaration without the need to take their grievances to court." 



Largest-ever peace time para-jump to mark Bombay Sappers anniversary
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 23
A free-fall para-jump by serving and retired regimental officers would be the highlight of the Reunion of the Bombay Sappers and commemorations of 100 years of the existence of its Officer's Mess at the Bombay Engineer Group (BEG) Centre at Kirkee, near Pune, in January, 2006. The mess is unique as it is the only mess that is owned by officers rather than the government.

The reunion will coincide with the BEG's 186th anniversary. A number of events are being organised for the occasion.

According to a circular received by Bombay Sappers units located in this region, A commemoration parade will be held on January 31, which will be reviewed by Vice- Chief of the Army Staff and Colonel Commandant of the Bombay Sappers, Lieut-Gen S. Pattabhiraman. The parade will also, for the first time, feature and ex-servicemen's contingent.

Army Chief's unit citations and other wards will also be presented during the parade. Other events during the four-day celebrations include a light and tattoo show, which will trace the history of the regiment and enact various battles, Sainik Sammelan, release of first day cover, reunion dinner and a barakhana.

The youngest of the three groups forming the Indian Army's Corps of Engineers, Bombay Sappers traces its origin to a company of Pioneer Lascars raised at Bombay in 1777. In 1820 it was expanded to become the Corps of Engineer

Lascars and Pontoon Train before and then in 1837 was designated as the Corps of Bombay Sappers and Miners. It was given the prefix of Royal in 1921.



Devotees celebrate Sai Baba’s birthday
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 23
A large number of devotees took part in the 80th birthday celebrations of Bhagwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba in Chandigarh, Panchkula and other places in the region. Devotees took out nagar kirtans.

In the city, the local unit of the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation held bhajans at Sector 19 while in Panchkula these were held in DC Model School, Sector 7. At Patiala, the celebrations were held in Sai Dham, near Nabha Road, where the poor were feeded by the volunteers of the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation.

Children of the Bal Vikas group recited bhajans.



Readers Write
CHB scheme for whom?

This is regarding the latest Chandigarh Housing Board scheme offering two bedroom flats to the general public for Rs 32 lakh.

The amount has to be paid before taking possession of the flats. Point to be noted here is that no salaried person can afford to buy the flats that are grossly over priced. Out of the total of 32 lakh, if an individual borrows Rs 25 lakh from the bank, the annual interest comes to be Rs 2 lakh ( at the rate of 8 per cent per annum) which means to pay back only the interest amount one has to shell out Rs 16,666 per month. The figure would be much higher if the principal amount is also added to it. Thus even persons drawing sufficiently high salary would find it difficult to pay this EMI for a period of 20 years.

Moreover, it should be kept in mind that it is easy to take loan from financial institutions but it is not easy to return the same as with the passage of time, the loan amount keeps on increasing.

The very purpose of setting up Chandigarh Housing Board was to provide affordable houses to the poor and the middle class residents of Chandigarh. But in the present scheme where a two bedroom flat costs Rs 32 lakh, the housing board appears to be acting more like profit-thirsty private builders. The price fixed for a two bedroom flat is much higher than the cost of construction. If this is the attitude of the housing board, then I feel the board is not required and should be closed down as it is no longer serving the interests of general public but are serving a particular class who can spare Rs 32 lakh, the property dealers or the NRIs who earn in dollars and spend in rupees.

The Chandigarh Administration too seems to be more worried about providing houses to migrants but not about the residents of Chandigarh who are without a roof on their heads. I feel that even the highest paid officer of the Chandigarh Administration will not be able to afford to buy a flat for Rs 32 lakh.

Dr S.K. Marwah Chandigarh

Blocked pedestrian path

Two sign boards of Joshi Auto have been put across a pedestrian path on the other side of the main road in front of C-114, I.A. Phase 7, Mohali. This path is frequently used by the elders and girls of the NIIFT for safe walking. While walking they are forced to get down here. When the pedestrians get down on the road particularly elders, they are exposed to avoidable accidents due to the speeding vehicles on the main road. Will the Executive Officer of municipal committee take necessary action for the removal of these boards? or will the Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, kindly redress the genuine complaint of elders?

Surjeet Singh Mohali

SMS messages on Divali

Apropos of your news item “Over 3 crore SMS messages this Divali” in Chandigarh Tribune dated November 3, 2005 correctly states that this year various cellular operators in this region had sent and received crores of SMS messages on Divali. The subscribers of Spice Telecom, Airtel, Hutch, Tata Telecom and BSNL were lucky enough to receive and send messages but unfortunately the reporter did not mention anything about Reliance subscribers. I am a Reliance mobile subscriber. I tried to send SMS messages on the Divali morning but surprisingly no SMS message was delivered. I did not even receive any SMS message on my mobile number. I contacted *333 (service provider Reliance) from my mobile and was told by the representative that due to some technical problem — the SMS messages were not being delivered but this technical problem would be rectified and removed in the next 2 hours. I tried to resend all messages 3 hours later but the result was same as before — the SMS messages were not delivered. I again contacted *333 and this time I was informed by the representative that the technical problem still existed and it would be removed by next morning with no specific time.

One wondered that if a subscriber was not able to pay his/her bill amount time his/her outgoing calls were deactivated and penalty imposed by the service provider (Reliance) but in this case how Reliance was going to compensate its subscribers for no fault of theirs? Will the department concerned reply?

Gurpreet S. Malhotra Chandigarh

Divali or disaster

This is with reference to Chandigarh Tribune news dated November 3, that more than 150 burn and eye injury cases in Chandigarh, Mohali, Panchkula were received during Divali festival. Some of the patients lost their eyes, while some houses and shops were burnt causing loss to the tune of many lakhs due to this unnecessary expenditure on the buying and bursting of crackers. Such acts of bursting crackers and bombs polluted the environment as well and this polluted environment further aggravated the problems of helpless patients and caused loss to life and property in the country.

Crores of rupees are spent by the people on this useless and harmful expenditure. The harmful waste of puja material is thrown into the water by the people which further pollutes and poisons the water of lakes and ponds. Thousand of birds and animals die while drinking this poisonous water.

In the Tribune dated October 29, 2005 eminent writer S. Khushwant Singh has also condemned such acts of bursting of bombs and crackers on this day. In addition, in the Tribune Chandigarh dated November 1, 2005, Mr Jaspal Bhatti, renowned comedian, has also given message to the public to say no to crackers. Despite so many demonstrations against bursting of crackers, people pay little attention to these demonstrations and indulge in unnecessary competition while bursting of crackers and bombs.

Lord Rama does not become happy if this festival is celebrated in this manner. If we want to really celebrate this festival, we should spend the money on the welfare schemes for the poor and needy person. Everyday we hear and read in the newspapers that the girls, are being raped and sold due to their extreme poverty in our country. The poor minor children are being made bonded labours.

Recently our country has suffered from the natural calamities such as tsunami and earthquakes. The sufferers are still crying for help. On the other hand we are celebrating Divali, wasting our money on the unnecessary wasteful expenditure which becomes the source of many self created tragedies for us. We should contribute to Prime Minister’s Relief Fund generously or contribute to other welfare schemes for these unfortunate persons. The best service to mankind is the service to humanity.

K.R. Raju (Advocate) Mohali

Restoration of ECS facility for power bills

Apropos to a news in Chandigarh Tribune dated October 30 informing the public about discontinuing this facility, I may inform you this facility is quite useful specially to senior citizens and those who cannot move from their houses. I have been availing this facility for the past 2 years. Even if we engage somebody to deposit our bills now we shall have to pay him labour charges. I request the Electricity Department to sort out this matter with some bank immediately and help the old persons, specially above the age of 70 years.

Once again I request the Electricity Department through your newspaper to immediately restore this facility.

Tarlok Singh Mani Majra, Chandigarh



Three vehicles stolen from city
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 23
Varinder Kumar of Kailon village in Ropar district filed a complaint with the police alleging that his car (PB-20-0018) was stolen from market place in Sector 22-D yesterday.

Ajay Kumar Sharma of Sector 11, Panchkula, lodged a complaint with the police alleging that his Bajaj Caliber motor cycle (HR-03-D-5410) was stolen from the market area in Sector 20-D yesterday.

In another incident, Rajesh Parbhakar of Phase I, Ram Darbar, reported to the police alleging that his LML Freedom motor cycle (CH-03-L-9161) was stolen from Phase II in Ram Darbar on November 17 night.

Three cases of theft have been registered in the various police stations.

Held for stealing
The local police arrested two youngsters and claimed to have recovered 12 manhole covers from their possession.

According to the police, Sumit of Sector 33-A and Parveen of Burail were arrested from a checkpoint on the Jail road yesterday.

They were produced before a local court today, which remanded them in one-day police custody.

The sources added that both accused had earlier been booked in two cases of theft by the Mohali and Chandigarh police, respectively.

Arvind Kumar Dhiman of Sector 28-D filed a complaint with the police alleging that a gold chain, a gold ring and other articles were stolen from his residence yesterday.

A case has been registered in this regard.

Held for eve-teasing
The local police has arrested Simarjit Singh, Gurpreet Singh and Satnam Singh of Khudda Ali Sher village from Sector 8 for allegedly indulging in eve-teasing.

A case has been registered against them under Section 294 of the IPC.

They were later released on bail.

Tara Chand of Sector 23 suffered injuries after an unidentified vehicle hit the cycle he was riding near cricket stadium, Sector 16, on Monday.

The driver of the vehicle sped away. The victim was taken to the General Hospital, Sector 16.

A case of rash and negligence driving has been registered in this regard.

In another incident, Karam Antal of Sector 14, Sonepat district, lodged a complaint with the police alleging that a car hit his motor cycle near the Sectors 27-28 traffic lights point yesterday.

Harbir Singh, a pillion rider on his motor cycle, sustained injuries and was admitted to the PGI.

A case of rash and negligence driving has been registered against driver of the car Madhu Rihal of Sector 28-A.


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