C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


UT shocks for Mohali residents
Electric current flowing through barbed wires
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 30
Living in a ‘danger zone’, residents of more than a dozen houses in a row, in Phase III-A Mohali, touching the Nehru Colony of Chandigarh, have become used to “getting electric shocks” from the barbed wires in their backyard.

Illegal ‘kundi’ connections, drawing power from an electricity pole on the land of the Union Territory, have been made to run along the barbed wires at the back of the houses located in Mohali. Earlier, the ‘kundis’ were drawing power from poles located in Mohali. However, following a reaction by the residents, residents of Nehru Colony shifted their base to the poles on UT land. The naked ‘kundi’ wires transfer power on to the barbed wires.

Mr Karamjit Singh, a local resident, suffered a major electric shock when he went to pick up waste skin of a slaughtered chicken thrown in his compound on a day when it had rained. “I was almost thrown against the wall of the house”, he said. He said “a labourer working in a house in the corner of a street has quit his job. He said he valued his life for his family and would not walk into a death trap when he was conscious of the current in the wire. It is more dangerous when it is wet”.

Mr Karamjit Singh said: “Ask any resident in this row and he will corroborate the fact about electricity running in the barbed wires”.

Mr Devinder Singh, a resident, said: “I am working in the Merchant Navy and this time I have been forced to overstay because of a permanent security threat to my family. Residents in the entire block (house numbers 655 to 671) are faced with several troubles emanating from the adjoining colony. I am in fact thinking of shifting my house to some other place”.

Mr Charan Singh, president of the Residents Welfare Society, said “he had given more than three representations to the Punjab Urban Development Authority seeking their interference in the matter. We have also lodged a complaint with the police in Phase VIII.”

The president said: “In 2004 there was a strong move to lift the illegal colony. In fact the UT Administration had launched a major drive and residents of the colony were prepared to shift out when political interference stalled the move”.

The smell in the entire area is nauseating, particularly of human waste as two toilets have come up against the boundary walls. Cows and buffaloes are also tied in the open compound. The waste of chicken butchered in a small shop often finds place in the compound of the residents.

Mr Karamjit Singh said “the most common sight during the daytime is at least half a dozen groups of young men playing cards (even gambling). The sessions during the late evenings end after drinks which also include loud noises and vulgarity”.

“Whom should we approach, PUDA or the Union Territory Administration? I hope someone listens and helps,” Mr Devinder Singh said.



Forget water woes, MC okays 24-hr water supply
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 30
A proposal for 24-hour water supply to the city was approved at the meeting of the General House of the Municipal Corporation here today.

Under the scheme, the MC plans to increase water supply from 10 hours to 16 hours in summer and up to 20 hours in winter once the Phase IV of Kajauli Water Works is commissioned.

The house also agreed that to meet extra costs, involved in supplying water for additional hours, the water charges will also be revised.

Besides, the MC plans to bore 20 new and 15 shallow tubewells.

Long-term measures include augmenting the capacity of sewerage-treatment plant, for tertiary treated water, from 10 MGD to 30 MGD and increasing the tertiary distribution network.

Addition of water under Phase V and VI of Kajauli, tapping ground and surface water from Sukhna and a new lake under development in southern sectors are other measures.

Consultancy firms have also been invited for exploring the possibility of bringing water by gravity from Ganguwal at a distance of 70 km from the city.

The house also revised rates of transfer fee, copying fee, inspection fee and allotment of new house, shop numbers in Manimajra and other villages.

The rates had been fixed 12 years back by the Notified Area Committee, Mani Majra.

The question-answer hour witnessed high drama when the former Mayor, Kamlesh, pointed out that the administrative staff had provided wrong information to the house in response to her question of works being carried out in the city.

She alleged that in at least two “work completed” cases mentioned on the agenda, the work was yet to begin or was only halfway through.

“The officials have tried to mislead the house and must be punished. Also, we must be told what the status of the works recommended by us is since we hardly ever get to know the fate of our work,” she demanded.

Mr Subhash Chawla, too, said there was no system in place to inform the councillor why a particular work recommended by him had not been initiated or where it was stuck.

The Mayor, Ms Anu Chatrath, assured the members that she and MC Commissioner would prepare a detailed report about works under the Mayors’ and councillors’ fund in a week’s time.

“Whoever is responsible for supplying wrong information will also be punished,” she assured visibly agitated Kamlesh.

Referring to a recent study tour of councillors to Mumbai and Goa, Mr Chawla maintained that they were no heaps of garbage to be seen anywhere in Goa.

“The councillors there told us that this had been achieved by public cooperation and participation. “We must follow Goa’s example and run a campaign for a green and clean city,” he stated. Another meeting will be convened on December 6 to discuss the supplementary agenda.



Reprieve for LPG distributors
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 30
In a reprieve to the LPG distributors in the city, the district administration today assured the distributors that it will reconsider the rent being charged on the sites being allotted on permanent basis to the LPG godowns in the city.

This would mean that the administration would reconsider its policy on allotment of the sites. An indication in this regard was given during a meeting of the All India LPG Distributors Federation and officers of oil companies, which was chaired by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr R.K. Rao.

Talking to The Tribune, the DC said the LPG distributors have given certain statistics regarding their profitability and related issues. He said the administration would examine the demand of the distributors to reduce the rental and forward its recommendations to the administration for final approval.

Mr Mukesh Bindlish, a member of the All India Distributors Federation, North-West Region, said in the memorandum given to the Deputy Commissioner that the federation had pointed the problems being faced by the distributors. The rent being charged by the administration worked out to Rs 33,000 per month compared to their profitability of Rs 22,000 per month (this does not include the depreciation claim and income tax).

As a result of the exorbitant rates, only two distributors had taken up the permanent sites in Ram Darbar and they, too, were not paying the rent. Of the total 26 distributors, 21 were in the periphery.

Sources in the administration said at least 25 sites had been earmarked across the city. But due to high rentals, very few distributors came forward to accept them. In case of the godowns which came on private land, the administration gives permission for up to three years. No rent is charged on such sites.

The federation pointed out that the administration had on different occasions in the past decided to charge Rs 3 per sq yard and then Rs 5 per sq yard from the distributors. But the decision was never implemented due to certain reasons. The federation said 85 per cent of the land allotted to them could not be used due to safety guidelines.

It may be mentioned that on November 25, the local distributors had gone on one day strike against the demolition of godowns in Raipur Khurd. The strike had been deferred till November 30 to see the outcome of today’s meeting.



CHB official in CBI net over graft
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 30
The anti-corruption branch of the Central Bureau of Investigation(CBI) caught Shashi Mohan, an assistant in the office of the Chairman, Chandigarh Housing Board, while allegedly accepting bribe for transferring a house here today.

It is probably for the first time that the CBI carried out its ‘mission’ in CHB compounds in Sector 9 following a complaint lodged by Mr Satpal Sharma.

Mr Sharma had purchased a MIG flat(H No 2058\1, Sector 45-C) from Mr Balram Singh, the original allottee, and had applied for a transfer of the house in his name.

The complainant said he was made to make a number of rounds to the CHB office and was pointed out objections in transferring the flat in his name.

Mr Sharma alleged that Mohan demanded the bribe of Rs 5000 for transferring the flat in his name. He was allegedly also told that all objections would be removed.

Shashi Mohan has been arrested for the offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and a search operation was conducted at his official and residential premises.

The incident is said to have occurred at around 12 noon when the CBI team swooped down on the CHB office and caught Mohan.

The team questioned him in the office of the Secretary for more than three hours.

The CHB has suspended Mohan with immediate effect till further orders.

A CHB employee, sitting in the basement, said: “We were doing our routine job when we heard a big sound of thumping feet in our work area. Mohan had been caught from the canteen premises and was bundled upstairs right in front of our eyes.” “We, however, have not been able to make out the offence”, a senior clerk said.

Mr S.N. Sahai, the chairman of the CHB, said “The board was in the process of streamlining the entire functioning. Instead of allowing everybody to walk into the office, a front desk, comprising at least five CHB employees, will listen to queries and problems of people and recommend the necessary action.”



MC okays move on parking passes
Tribune News Service

Parking charges per month

  • City pass for four wheelers: Rs 300
  • City pass for two wheelers: Rs 150
  • Pass for a particular parking: Rs 100
  • Multiple entry pass for parking in a particular sector: Rs 200

Chandigarh, November 30
The long overdue proposal of introducing ‘City Passes’ in the paid parking lots in the city got a nod from members of the Municipal Corporation (MC). These will be issued between the first and tenth of every month by the MC and will be available on quarterly, half-yearly or annual basis to save the public from the inconvenience of coming back for a fresh pass every month.

While the charges of Rs 300 per month have been approved for four wheelers, pass charge of Rs 150 per month has been approved for two wheelers by the House.

Other charges approved, include Rs 2 per entry and Rs 5 for a whole day for three wheelers carrying goods and Rs 5 per entry and Rs 10 for the whole day from service vans.

While it has been decided that no parking fee would be charged from cycles, rickshaws, three wheelers and taxis registered with the Chandigarh state Transport Authority, Sumos and other vehicles will be issued monthly passes of Rs 100 for a particular parking zone and Rs 200 for a monthly multiple entry pass valid in paid parkings of that sector.

The members also discussed the terms and conditions of paid parking in the city. The House fixed timings of parking from 7 am to 12.30 am after which the contractor can charge Rs 5 per car and Rs 2 per scooter per hour till the vehicle is taken away by the owner.

The condition of not registering an FIR against the contractor in case of theft from the paid parking drew a lot of flak from councillors Chandermukhi Sharma and Kamlesh. They were of the opinion that a contractor should be made accountable for any vehicle theft in his area.

However, the House passed that initially the FIR should be registered against unknown persons and the contractor would be booked only if his involvement is substantiated in an investigation or he is not able to make good the losses.

The House decided that all parking lots would be auctioned before January 1 of every year. In the event of a contractor not completing his term, a fresh auction would be held if more than three months remain for the contract to lapse. If the period is less than three months, then the MC staff will take over the parking.

A computerised barrier will be installed in one parking area in Sector 17 on trial basis. The contractor will not be allowed to display any advertisement , hoarding or poster in the parking area or slip issued to the commuters.



UT’s dubious distinction
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 30
Believe it or not, statistics reveal that the City Beautiful leads the list of 35 states and union territories in the country as far as the total incidence of crime committed against minors per 10 lakh of population is concerned.

Chandigarh, followed by Madhya Pradesh and Delhi are the “top three states and union territories” in this dubious list prepared by the National Crime Records Bureau(NCRB) under the category “rate of crime” or the total incidence of crimes against persons up to the age of 18 years per 10 lakh of population.

This was revealed by the Union Home Minister in a written reply to a question on “crime against minors” in the Rajya Sabha today.

As per the statistics compiled by the NCRB, the Union Territory of Chandigarh reported 67.62 crimes per 10 lakh population in 2004. It was followed by Madhya Pradesh (56.49) and National Capital Territory of Delhi (50.13). Incidentally, the national average of crime rate for 2004 has been 13.28, as per the NCRB statistics.

In 2004 specifically, 66 cases of crimes against minors were registered in Chandigarh, of which 44 cases were charge sheeted. Out of these, in 31 cases trials were completed, resulting in three convictions, thereby putting the conviction rate at 9.68.

In the same year, 13 cases of rape on minors were reported, but no one was convicted. The rape cases have been on a steady rise, from six in 2002 to nine in 2003.

The first three states in the country in terms of total incidence of crime against minors in 2004 were Madhya Pradesh with 3653 cases, Maharashtra with 2281 cases and Uttar Pradesh with 1921 cases. And the first three states in terms of total number of rape cases registered were Madhya Pradesh (710), Maharashtra (634) and Uttar Pradesh (394).



Electronic transfer of funds introduced
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 30
With implementation of the Panchayati Raj system gaining momentum, the government is recasting centrally sponsored schemes to cater to the requirements of decentralised governance.

We are trying to make sure that whatever can be done at the local level is done there itself,” Mr B.S. Lalli, Secretary, Department of Panchayati Raj told The Tribune here today. “There are scores of schemes which are being reviewed to make them compatible with local self-government institutions,” he added.

He was here to attend a seminar on Management Practices and Provision of Civic Services in European countries and Progressive Indian states.

The stress is now on mapping activities and demarcating the roles of agencies involved in implementing and executing the Panchayati Raj system so that transfer of funds can be made accordingly. “This is very important as it is the heart of the matter,” he said.

The Secretary said real power would come to Panchayati Raj institutions when the funds we actually transferred to these institutions. Funds, he added, should flow down from state government without delay and diversion.

Mr Lalli said the 12th Finance Commission funds being released to the state government were to be transferred to local self-government institutions within 15 days of their receipt by the state. The second installment of the funds would be released only after the distribution of the first installment is reviewed and is found satisfactory.

The government has introduced a system of electronic transfer of funds so that their dissemination down the levels is fast and secure. Punjab, he added is among the first states to introduce this system and Rs 64 crore were distributed to local institutions in this manner.

Mr Lalli also pointed out that the number of elected women representatives at the local level has crossed the one million mark. “The number of women representatives is above the 33 per cent mark reserved from them, which is a socially healthy trend,” he said.

A lot of community needs like health, education and nutrition can be handled well by women, he said. Also at the local level there are a lot of gender-related issues which can be dealt more effectively by women representatives, he added.



Seminar on management practices ends
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 30
Lack of adequate funds for implementation of need-based programmes is a major impediment in the effective functioning of Panchayati Raj institutions. This has resulted in near failure to carry out their responsibilities.

Stating this while addressing participants at a seminar on Management Practices and Provision of Civic Services in European countries and Progressive Indian states at the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID) here today, a former IAS officer, Mr JP Gupta, said Panchayati Raj institutions did not have flexibility to use funds which were available. Devolution of funds to these institutions, he added, would enable them to function as effective self-government institutions.

The two-day seminar organised in collaboration with the Study Group for European Policies, Brussels, concluded today. About 30 delegates, including elected representatives, local political leaders and experts from Belgium, the Netherlands, Finland and India attended the seminar.

Management practices in local self governments in progressive Indian states and European Union countries were discussed today.

The Mayor of Kemi in Finland, Mr Jorma Virtanen, and Mr Timo Linkola, Manager, International Project Activities, Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities, discussed various aspects of local self-government in the Scandinavian country.

A presentation on local self government in Haryana was made by Dr Mahipal from the Haryana Institute of Rural Development, Karnal, while research scholars from CRRID along with other experts discussed similar practices in Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka and Maharashtra.



Governor for umbrella body for ex-servicemen
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 30
Gen (retd) S.F. Rodrigues, Governor of Punjab, while presiding over the meeting of the Punjab Rajya Sainik Board at Raj Bhavan here today called for the setting up of an umbrella body for all ex-servicemen, which should act as a common platform for their welfare.

The Governor said it would help in providing a more effective and responsive mechanism to respond to the needs of the ex-servicemen and the redressal of their problems under a time-bound programme. He suggested that the Secretary, Defence Services Welfare, might initiate a of dialogue with ex-servicemen groups for creating a single forum through general consensus.

Emphasising the need for expanding opportunities to utilise their potential, experience and expertise, General Rodrigues said they could prove as instruments of change for the transformation of society. He said in the changing socio- economic scenario in the world, the ex-servicemen must be imparted training in different vocations and channelise their energies for productive purposes.

Lauding the steps taken by the Punjab Government for the benefit of ex-servicemen, General Rodrigues said raising of lump sum grant to gallantry award winners, enhancement of pension to gallantry awardees, grant of social security to the parents of martyrs, tubewell connections on priority to ex-servicemen etc were good for their benefit.

Vocational training facilities are being given to the wards of ex-servicemen through sainik training centres being run in different parts of the state and also ensuring their affiliation to Punjab Technical University. It was also stated that the pension to blind ex-servicemen/widows has been enhanced from Rs 300 to Rs 500 paid every quarter.



Bir Devinder to meet CM on Mohali health infrastructure
Our Correspondent

Mohali, November 30
The Mohali Civil Hospital is going to be upgraded very soon and the process is nearing completion. The town is on the way of becoming an IT hub and the government has to see that modern health facilities are provided here.

This was stated by Mr Bir Devinder Singh, Kharar MLA, at a function organised on the concluding day of the 15-day dental camp in the Civil Hospital here today.

More than 50 persons were provided dentures free of cost. The expenditure incurred in this regard was borne by the local Rotary Club and other NGOs.

The MLA said a package of Rs 200 crore was announced by the Punjab Chief Minister for the development of Mohali.

He said he wanted a part of the money should be spent on upgrading health and education facilities in the town. A meeting in this regard would be held with the Chief Minister in about three days.

The working of the administration, including the police, would also be reviewed at the meeting, he added.

He said an operation theatre to handle delivery cases from rural areas was set up in Majat village in August. Surprisingly, only one woman had so far availed the services provided at Majat.

He said it would be inquired into why the field staff had failed to motivate villagers to avail government services instead of approaching private nursing homes where hefty fee was charged.

Praising the services being provided by the Civil Hospital, the MLA said he would recommended that the dental wing should be given a state award.

He appealed to the SMO in charge of the hospital, Dr Sat Pal Singla, not to go in for premature retirement as the hospital needed his services for at least another year.

Dr Yash Pal Singla, Civil Surgeon, Ropar, said such dental camps were being organised throughout the district.

Later, while talking to mediapersons, he said the PNDT Act to check female foeticide would be strictly enforced in the district.

He said he had been conducting raids to nab doctors who violated the provisions of the act.

Dr Sat Pal Singla said the dental wing of the hospital, which was headed by Dr A.K. Sidhu, had prepared all the dentures in two weeks’ time.



Kang misleading villagers: BJP
Tribune News Service

Residents of Nayagaon today staged a dharna and blocked traffic on the Punjab Engineering College road near Nayagaon demanding removal of PLPA from Nayagaon.

Members of the Ghar Bachao Committee pleaded that their area did not attract the provisions of the PLPA and had been wrongly brought under the purview of this Act.

Those who spoke on the occasion include the president of the Ghar Bachao Committee, Mr Harbant Singh Bajwa, the chairman, Mr Surjit Singh and Mr Joshi.

Mohali, November 30
The Punjab unit of the BJP today criticised Cabinet Minister Jagmohan Singh Kang’s statement promising residents that he would ask for a meeting with the Forest Department and the other authorities concerned to see possibilities to exclude areas of Karoran, Kansal and Nayagaon from the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA), 1900.

The BJP termed the statement an attempt to mislead people.

Mr Vineet Joshi, member, national executive, BJP youth wing, said it seemed either Mr Jagmohan Kang was not aware of the facts or was deliberately trying to mislead villagers.

Mr Joshi told mediapersons that if Mr Kang could implement the PLPA in the true sense in the state, it could exclude various villages of the state from the Act.

A set procedure is required to be followed under the PLPA regarding issuance of notification. A proclamation is required to be made under Section 7 of the PLPA regarding issuance of notification under Sections 4 and 5. However, no such proclamation has been made by the state government.

No advertisement has been issued. The people affected by the notification of areas under the PLPA have not been given a reasonable opportunity of being heard. Had they been heard, their land would have not been included under the PLPA.



New Chief of Staff of Western Command
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 30
Lieut-Gen Paramjit Singh took over as Chief of Staff, Western Command, today. Prior to this appointment, he was General Officer Commanding, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka Area at Chennai.

He takes over from Lieut-Gen P K Grover, who has retired.

Commissioned into Garhwal Rifles in December, 1968, he commanded 2 Garhwal, an infantry brigade on the Line of Control and 12 RAPID Division.

He has served as an instructor in the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun and the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington.

He was Brigadier-General, Staff (Operations), Southern Command, during Operation Parakram.



Paying power bills made easier
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 30
Residents of villages falling in the Dera Bassi Punjab State Electricity Board subdivision can now deposit their electricity bills at the nearest post office.

According to a press note issued by the Deputy Chief Engineer, PSEB, Mohali, an agreement has been made with the Department of Posts in this regard.

With this facility, consumers need not visit the PSEB subdivision situated at the 220KV sub-station, Saidpura, but can deposit their bills at the following locations:

Residents of Dera Bassi, Issapur, Gulabgarh and Madhopur can deposit their bills at the Dera Bassi post office; residents of Barolli, Karkour, Saimadpur, Sheikhupura, Bhrampura, Dhanouli, Dera Jagadhari, Bohra, Bohri and Fatehpur Jattan at the post office in Barolli; residents of Bhagwanpura, Bhera Fatehpur, Haripur Hinduan and Nimbuan villages at the post office at Rampur Sainian; and residents of Saidpura and Kuranwala villages at the post office in Kuranwala.



PSEB lineman electrocuted

Mohali, November 30
A lineman of the Punjab State Electricity Board was electrocuted while on duty here duty.

The deceased, Jagjit Singh (56), had climbed up a pole in the Phase 1 Industrial Area in connection with some maintenance work when the accident tool place. After he suffered the electric shock he reportedly fell down from the pole. He was immediately rushed to the local Civil Hospital from where he was referred to the PGI, Chandigarh. It is reported that in the PGI he was declared brought dead.

Mr Surinder Pal, Deputy Chief Engineer, said that an inquiry was marked into the case which would be conducted by the Senior Executive Engineer. — OC



Truck driver suffocates to death
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 30
Body of a tuck driver was found lying in a truck in Sector 45 here this morning.

The deceased, Satya Dev, hailing from Uttar Pradesh, apparently died of suffocation while he was sleeping in his truck, said a police officer. Any foul play has been ruled out.

The victim had come late in the night and had slept in the driver’s cabin after rolling up the window panes of the vehicle as it was cold. The police was waiting for his family before conducting post- mortem examination.



Ex-Punwire employees meet Dullo
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 30
A delegation of former employees of Punwire met the president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo here yesterday. According to Mr Shahid Ahmed, president of the Punwire Employees Union, Mr Dullo was apprised of the condition of the 600 employees and their families who had lost their jobs when the company closed down in 2000.



Theft in Sec 9 house

Panchkula, November 30
Burglars decamped with cash, gold and electronic goods worth several lakhs from a house in Sector 10 here. A case has been registered in Sector 5 police station in this regard. As per police sources, Sector 10 resident, Suman Sharma had left home on November 26 for attending a marriage at Mandi and she came to know about the theft today morning when one of her neighbourer telephoned her.

Ms Suman Sharma, whose husband is abroad, told mediapersons that though the exact estimate of loss was yet to be ascertained however Rs 10,000 in cash, gold ornaments, silver utensils, a handycam, digital camera, a pair of diamond watches and some electronic items were found missing. — OC



More plaints against Anjali
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 30
Following the registration of a case and arrest of Anjali, Managing Director of Sector 35- based Durga Finance and Immigration Consultants, over 10 fresh complaints were received today by the Crime Branch of the Chandigarh Police.

The woman had been arrested on the allegations of duping two residents of Haryana of Rs 2 lakh on the pretext of sending them abroad. The woman is reported to have confessed that she duped her victims to the tune of Rs 45 lakh.

Following the questioning of the woman, crime branch sleuths today wrote to authorities of the bank where she had opened her accounts. The accounts and lockers in her name would be operated tomorrow.


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