C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


No price rise in UT, thanks to VAT notification
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 16
Residents in the city will continue to pay less for essential commodities items like petrol and diesel as compared to their counterparts in Mohali and Panchkula.

All thanks to a new notification which would rationalise the tax structure in view of the implementation of the Value Added Tax (VAT) Act in the city.

To prevent any hike in the prices of essential commodities after the implementation of the Value Added Tax (VAT) Act, the Chandigarh Administration today issued a notification to ensure that the prices of crucial items remain unaffected.

Otherwise, the prices of the essential commodities would have gone up by a few rupees. Due to the notification, issued today by the Finance Secretary-cum-Secretary, Excise and Taxation, the prices of liquor would also remain unaffected.

Sources in the Excise and Taxation Department said under the schedule of the VAT rates, the prices of liquor could have also gone up. Since the liquor trade in the city and Punjab was in the hands of a particular contractor, it would have encouraged pilferage.

After the green signal by the Union Home Ministry, the Chandigarh Administration had yesterday implemented the VAT Act. But certain amendments in the schedule of VAT rates were not incorporated in the notification.

In the interest of the consumers, the administration today issued another notification to amend certain schedules of the Punjab Value Added Tax Act, 2005, as extended to the Union Territory of Chandigarh. The schedules refer to the commodities like petrol, diesel and liquor.

Through the notification the administration has decided to exclude the sale of petrol, diesel, aviation turbine fuel and lubricants to PGI, Chandigarh, from the list of goods which are sold against D form at a concessional tax rate of 4 per cent.

In another amendment, the administration has removed the schedule of levying 4 per cent concessional tax on the sale made to PSEB for generation, transmission and distribution of power.



Excise Dept flooded with queries
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 16
With the implementation of the Value Added Tax (VAT) Act in the city, the office of the Excise and Taxation Department was flooded with queries regarding its affect on the traders and the consumers.

Traders in various commercial centres in the city reported low sales as the buyers apprehended paying more for goods.

“I will wait for some days for the position to become clear. The businessmen are not clear about the whole issue”, said Mr Vineet Sehgal, who had gone to Sector 17 to buy clothes.

The general secretary of the Chandigarh Beopar Mandal, Mr J.P.S. Kalra, said while the prices of some of the items were expected to increase, the price of essential commodity like medicine was likely to fall.

“Since the Administration by virtue of powers under Section 8(3) of the VAT Act was empowered to restructure the price of certain items”, said Mr Kalra.

The new rates of various items have been put on the website of the Excise and Taxation Department (www.chd.nib.in). The Chandigarh Administration has requested the traders to intimate it if any item had been left out.

The traders lamented that the rate schedule put on the site was not clear. Many of the retail businessmen did not have access to the computers.

Under the VAT law, at every stage the dealer is required to charge tax on the value added after availing input tax credit paid on the purchase of the goods from a VAT dealer in UT. For the convenience of the traders, the Administration has allowed them to issue the existing cash memo. But the bill should have Tax Identification Number of the respective trader and stamp of the VAT having being paid.

The VAT numbers of the existing dealers have already been made available to them. In the new system, every dealer is required to show separately the tax being charged in the VAT invoice. In case of retail seller, the invoice inclusive of the tax is chargeable on the respective item.

The District Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Mr R.K. Rao, said camps were being held in Industrial Area, Phase 1 and II, to enable the traders to know about VAT. He said all necessary assistance would be given to them.



2 persons commit suicide
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 16
Marital problems forced two persons to end their lives in the city. While a resident of Mansa Devi complex committed suicide by drowning in the Sukhna Lake, the other reportedly consumed a poisonous substance and breathed his last near the Kalka-Chandigarh railway track here. Both the bodies were recovered today.

Giving details sources in the Sukhna Lake police post said at around 7:30 am sportspersons of a rowing team noticed a body floating near the starting point for rowing at the lake. They informed the police and the cops pulled out the body from the water. On the basis of the condition of the body the cops said the death might have taken place about two days back.

The victim was identified as 32-year-old Ajay Kumar, a resident of Mansa Devi complex. The police initially faced problems in identifying the deceased as no document was found on the body, which could help in establishing his identity. The cops kept the body at the lake for about an hour, but in vain. Later it was shifted to the Sector 16 General Hospital.

The police said a message was flashed to all the police stations in Chandigarh and surrounding areas and later in the day the Mansa Devi complex police responded. Following the message the police contacted the family of the deceased, who was reported as missing on Wednesday.

Mr Vijay Kumar, the brother of the deceased, told the police that Ajay had a love marriage about one-and-a-half years ago. He is survived by his wife and two month old child. His wife was living separately with her parents. Ajay was working as a telephone operator in the Sector 32 Government Medical College and Hospital.

About the other suicide the sources in the Mani Majra police station said the cops received a message at around 1 pm that a body was lying in the bushes near the Kalka-Chandigarh railway lights point.

The deceased was identified as 45-year-old-Bhupinder Singh of Sector 45. Foam was oozing out of his mouth and no injury marks were reportedly found on the body. The police recovered two packets of pesticides near his body along with an empty liquor bottle. The cops recovered his address and telephone number from his pocket.

His family told the police that Bhupinder was alcoholic and used to stay away from home for weeks. A missing person’s complaint had been lodged with the local police on Tuesday in this regard. Though no suicide note was found on the body, the family members reportedly ruled out possibility of any foul play behind the death. Bhupinder, a class IV employee in the Housing Board Department, is survived by his wife and two daughters.

The police has initiated inquest proceedings.



Joshi kidnapping case mastermind identified
‘Aman’ is Jagvinder from Ludhiana
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 16
The Chandigarh Police today claimed to have established the identity of Aman Verma, the mastermind of the sensational Nikhil Joshi kidnapping-for-ransom case. According to the police the real name of Aman Verma is Jagvinder Singh. He is 28-year-old and hails from Ludhiana.

Interestingly, the identification took place two days after the Chandigarh Tribune highlighted the prolonged silence of the Chandigarh Police over the issue of the identity of the ‘‘mastermind’’ in the case of kidnapping of the minor son of a city-based automobile dealer. The kidnappers had demanded a ransom of Rs 2 crore from the boy’s family about a month back. Member of the special investigation team and in-charge of the UT police crime branch Satbir Singh, while confirming the report, said the accused had been identified as 28-year-old Jagvinder Singh, a resident of Canadian Enclave in Ludhiana district.

Jagvinder Singh, son of a retired XEN of telecom department, had been disowned by his parents about four years back. Jagvinder is the youngest of three brothers.

Quoting his family, the police sources added that Jagvinder had stolen a car from Ludhiana and had fallen into bad company. Fed up by his misdeeds the family decided to disown him.

Talking to Chandigarh Tribune over telephone from Ludhiana, his mother, Surinder Kaur said, ‘‘He has ruined us in the old age. Instead of lending a helping hand, he has become a source of constant trouble for us. We are being questioned by the cops for no fault of ours and we are paying the price for giving birth to him. He has never come back after leaving home and has never even called us’’.

Breaking down while narrating her tale she added that her husband, Mr Ranjit Singh, was a patient of hypertension. Their elder son was settled abroad and the other son, a lecturer, remained out of station for most of the time. Jagvinder had studied in Ludhiana and had also joined a computer course, but never completed the same due to his bad company.

Elated over the identification of the ‘‘mastermind’’ Mr Satbir Singh said, ‘‘We will get his record from Ludhiana, Punjab, Delhi, Ghaziabad and Uttar Pradesh and would verify the details. His identification has strengthened our case and we can approach international agencies in order to trace him.’’

It may be recalled that on November 20, the local police had claimed to have solved the case of kidnapping of 17-year-old Nikhil Joshi, son of Deepak Joshi a resident of Sector 36. The police recovered the boy from a house in Sector 16 and arrested two youngsters, Manoj Kumar and Honey Sharma in this connection. The police said the boy was kidnapped from Sector 35 based hotel on November 18.



Dharmendra taken to hospital, discharged
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 16
Actor-turned-politician Dharmendra was rushed to Fortis Hospital, Mohali, late this evening after he complained of chest pain.

While the authorities at Fortis refused to divulge any information, sources said the actor underwent an ECG and an eco-cardiography test and stayed at the hospital for over an hour. The actor was then taken to the residence of a doctor to be kept under observation during the night, sources added.

He had reached the city last night along with his wife Parkash Kaur Deol in connection with the shooting of Anil Sharma’s film “Apne”.

At about 9.30 p.m. the veteran actor was rushed to the hospital from the Taj hotel. He was admitted to the emergency and then taken to the CCU.



Choosing mayoral candidate a tough task for CTCC
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 16
Choosing a consensus candidate for the post of next Mayor of Chandigarh will be a daunting task for the Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee (CTCC) this time. The party, on its part is trying its level best to have a consensus candidate before the process of filing nominations begins on December 26. The situation within the party is such that the Congress councillors, who are in majority in the House, will oppose each other during the Mayoral poll. The party faces no opposition.

The rift which arose between the local Member of Parliament, Mr Pawan Bansal and the President of CTCC, Mr B.B. Bahl during the last Lok Sabha poll has only widened over a period of time. Even though Mr Bahl bagged the post of the President yet again due to his goodwill at the Centre, Bansal supporters have tried to offer him resistance at every step. Councillors of the Bahl group will be contesting the poll banking on his support, but their are some who enjoy the goodwill of the party high command.

On the other hand, many candidates are staking their claim to the Mayor’s post in the Bansal group and they are forming their own groups to justify their claim to the coveted post. Sources disclose that the former Senior Deputy Mayor, Mr Pradeep Chhabra, who is the strongest contender for the post from this group has already knocked at the doors of the party high command in Delhi. Among the other possible contenders are Mr H.S. Lucky, who was elected during the MC bypoll. He is banking on the support of the dissident Chandigarh Vikas Manch councillor, Ms Harpreet Kaur Babla, while Mr Chhabra is sure of getting support of the Mayor, Ms Anu Chatrath and former Mayor, Mr Subhash Chawla.

Sources in the party add that a few Congress leaders are also looking at Mr Subhash Chawla as the next Mayor. Their contention is that they want a candidate who can see the party through the general elections of the civic body next year.

But the Bahl supporters on their part are all set to oppose Chawla’s candidature at all levels. Chawla, however, denies being in the race for the Mayor’s post.

The supporters of Mr Bahl are also making references to the promises made by Mr Bansal in his speech when the Congress came to power four years ago in the House, wherein he had promised that all 13 elected councillors will be given a chance to occupy at least one of the posts out of the total 15 posts, including that of the Mayor, Senior Deputy Mayor and Deputy Mayor and Chairmen of various MC committees.

If the Congress adopts this formula then there are only two councillors who have not got any post till now. They are Mr Chandermukhi Sharma and Ms Shyama Negi. Ms Negi had staked her claim to the post even last year and had requested the high command for the same. She was offered the post of Deputy Mayor, which she had turned down. H.S. Lucky, who was elected during the MC byelection was made the Chairman of the Beautification committee of MC.

The councillors of Bahl group are also specifying that ways of violating the President’s whip have been taught to them by the Bansal group. They will also take advantage of the fact that Bahl did not take any action against them.

It may be recalled that the party president had nominated two councillors for the election of two posts of the Finance and Contract Committee ( F and CC), but Mr Subhash Chawla not only violated the party dictate but contested the poll and also won it. But despite this, Mr Bahl did not take any disciplinary action against him.

Mr Chandermukhi does not only enjoy the confidence of Mr Bansal but also has the support of former MP and Power Minister of Haryana Venod Sharma and former President of Youth Congress Manish Tiwari. The contestants in the Bansal group enjoy his confidence and support. The general belief is that as in the past Mr Bansal will have a say in choosing the Mayoral nominee but Mr Bahl will also have some say since he has so far not nominated the committee members even after being elected as the President.

The opposition is sitting quiet and watching all this. The BJP is now only setting its eye on the post of the senior Deputy Mayor, in case they are asked to extend support to any Congress candidate in the event of lack of consensus on a candidate within the Congress, sources add.

The All-India Congress Committee ( AICC) has taken former Mayor, Mr Subhash Chawla, local Congress unit leader, Mr B.B. Bahl; MP, Mr Pawan Bansal and former Mayor and President of the local Mahila Congress, Ms Lalit Joshi as its new members from Chandigarh.



UT seeks public opinion on liquor policy
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 16
In an important development, the Chandigarh Administration is seeking public opinion on the proposed liquor policy of going in for licensing of liquor shops instead of the existing practice of auction.

A senior officer of the administration said that public opinion will be discussed at length involving the general public, very shortly. People are expected to respond to the move by the administration by giving reasons. The voice of the public will have a definite impact on the proposed move of the administration, said the official. The policy, in case amended, may be implemented from the next financial year.

Under the changed policy, each sector can have a liquor shop and certain sectors can have more than two shops, going by the size of the market and the population. “In fact, the administration may even offer licenses to all the interested shops, just like in Goa, at a later stage”, he said.

One of the biggest reasons behind the proposed idea is to break the monopoly of the liquor cartels. Over the past several years it has been found that a majority of the ‘thekas’ are taken over by one or two parties who make the maximum bid.

It is also felt that the liquor shops are avoided by a section of city residents because of the “atmosphere of hooliganism at the venue”. “I have never seen a lady on a liquor shop. I am not promoting liquor consumption, I only mean the business will be more decent under the changed policy”, the officer said.

It is also felt that liquor cartels also control the prices of the bottles. “The rates are not uniform under the existing system. I got a bottle of rum from a liquor vend in Sector 36 for Rs 190, a few days ago. On my questioning, I was told that the rum cost more because of the winter. Next day, I bought it from Sector 38(West) for Rs 170”, a resident of Sector 36 said.



Rodrigues highlights need for transparent approach
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 16
Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), the Governor of Punjab and UT Administrator, has cautioned that maintaining the character of “Chandigarh as a truly modern city would not be easy if we hesitate to take difficult decisions. There is a need to adopt a transparent and fair approach. He was presiding over a meeting of Administrative Secretaries and Heads of the Departments here today.

The Governor said “violators should be made aware of the court orders in which owners of illegal constructions were asked to demolish unauthorised structures. We have to go to the public with our proposals and build a consensus on critical issues involving public interest”.

General Rodrigues emphasised that the Right to Information Act had already been implemented in the Union Territory and everybody was now accountable. He asked the Administrative Secretaries to decentralise and delegate powers to the lower rung officers, to cut short delays in expediting issues involving public interest.

He said policy decisions always lay down broad guidelines and the procedural details must be worked out and simplified by the Administrative Secretaries and Heads of Departments, keeping in view the larger interests of society.

He said the regular monitoring of projects and periodical visits by senior officers were essential to ensure that the programmes providing essential services to the people were implemented properly. General Rodrigues expressed concern over the alarming figures of malnutrition, anaemia, dental caries and rheumatic heart diseases among children as indicated by the ongoing health status survey of schoolchildren in UT.

Mr Lalit Sharma, Adviser to the Administrator, Home Secretary, Finance Secretary, Chairman of the Chandigarh Housing Board, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Managing Director, CITCO, Director Panchayats, Joint Secretary, Finance, Deputy Commissioner, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Chief Engineer and Chief Architect were among the senior officers’ who attended the meeting.



Streetlights out of order in Sect 38 (West)
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 16
Many streetlights in Sector 38 (West) are out of order, causing a sense of insecurity among residents. On some poles, the tubelight sets are missing and no steps have been taken by the Electricity Department to affix new ones.

With several incidents of snatching having taken place in southern sectors, absence of streetlights on some internal and external roads has made the area particularly vulnerable. A long stretch of the main road which links this Sector to Sector 38 remains engulfed in darkness, leading to resentment among residents, particularly women and senior citizens.

Residents of Sectors 48 and 49 today alleged that streetlights in the sectors were non-functional for the past over one month.

According to a press note, the streetlights of the road from the Sangam Society to the Kendriya Vihar were out of order, putting the residents to a lot of inconvenience. Similarly, the road separating Sectors 48 and 49 was also without streetlights.

Repeated representations to the authorities concerned have been of no avail, Mr Harbans Lal, a resident of Sector 48, alleged.



’71 war heroes remembered
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 16
Military establishments observed Vijay Divas here today to commemorate the victory over Pakistan in 1971. It was on this day 34 years ago that the Pakistani Army laid down arms before Indian forces, resulting in the creation of Bangladesh.

A wreath was laid on the behalf of all officers and men at the Veer Smriti war memorial in Chandimandir by the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Command, Lieut-Gen Daljeet Singh.

Several war veterans, including Air Marshal Randhir Singh (retd), Brig Sant Singh (retd), Lieut-Col H.I.S. Dhaliwal (retd), Hony Capt Dharampal Singh and Sub-Major Nirbhay Singh, also paid floral tributes to those who were killed in the line of duty, a statement issued here today said.

Vijay Divas had not been observed last year on account of the initiation of confidence-building measures between India and Pakistan.

A barakhana for the men was also organised in all units stationed here. In the evening candles were lit by officers, men and their families as a mark of remembrance for those who had sacrificed their lives.

At Air Force Station here, the Air Officer Commanding,12 Wing, Air Cmde T.K. Venugopal, laid a wreath at the Station War Memorial. A ceremonial guard reversed arms to pay homage to the air warriors who had made the supreme sacrifice.

On this day, the then GOC-in-C, Eastern Command, Lieut-Gen J.S. Aurora, had accepted the Instrument of Surrender from Pakistan's Lieut-Gen A.A.K. Niazi after Indian troops entered Dacca. Over 90,000 Pakistani troops surrendered to the Indian forces, which is the largest surrender since the Second World War.

This day also commemorates the victory in Operation Vijay in 1999, where the Indian soldiers evicted Pakistani intruders from the extremely rugged heights of Kargil, Muskoh, Dras and Batalik in Jammu and Kashmir, the statement added.



Open mind must for evolution
Devatma anniversary
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 16
On the third day of the 155th birth anniversary of Bhagwan Devatma, the founder of dev dharma, a lecture was given by Dr Vinod Khera which was based on the latest ‘Researches in the field of spirituality and its immense benefits to our lives’.

Dr Khera emphasised on the importance of ‘The Open Mind Field Concept’ developed by Dr Valerie Hunt, a professor at UCLA, USA, and appealed to the gathering to have an open mind in life for higher evolution.

Elaborating further on the research done in the physical laboratory of University of California at Los Angeles, USA, by Dr Valerie over a period of 30 years. Dr Khera described that Dr Hunt determined that human emotions were not restricted to the brain and nervous system but they originated in the aura, or what is called the human soul in the terminology of Dev Dharma. Dr Khera also spoke on the researches done by scientist Dr David Hawkins.

Early in the morning yesterday, the session was addressed by Mr Bal Bahadur Singh who enumerated the reasons because of which the relationship of human souls with Bhagwan Devatma was indispensable. It was highlighted that since man is basically pleasure seeking and peace loving species, he is driven by several likes and dislikes. As a result, mankind suffers. The dire need of the indispensable relationship with Bhagwan Devatma was well illustrated by the speaker who quoted solid examples of persons who had changed their path in life and were now leading good and pious life.

The evening session consisted of public lectures by various speakers from Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana who described the metamorphic changes in their personal lives that were brought about with the influence of Bhagwan Devatma.

Earlier on the inaugural day, it was stressed that a scientific approach to religion or spirituality and the one based on beliefs passed from generation to generation. The Dev Dharma provides the congregation with a specific atmosphere charged with spiritual unique light and power of the Devatma. The light is unique as it illuminates the innermost self of the persons who absorb it. Such persons are awakened to the evil and ugly part within them. They then become repulsive about it. The four-day programme will conclude tomorrow.



Info Act empowers common man: Kashyap
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 16
The recently promulgated Right to Information Act has empowered every citizen to seek information from any public authority, said Mr Rajan Kashyap, Chief Information Commissioner, Punjab, while addressing members of the Chandigarh Chapter of Public Relations Society of India (PRSI) here today.

The Act ensures openness and greater transparency in governance superseding the colonial legacy of official secrecy, he said. “The objective of the Act is to improve governance through accountability of functionaries, transparency in government’s working, check corruption and assuring time-bound access to information to the common man”.

Mr Kashyap said the Act was also acting as a catalyst in improving the usage of information technology in the government offices, as well as generating awareness amongst the general public to use IT services to reach out to various government departments without making personal visit to the offices and standing in queues.

“Various state governments have already appointed public information officers in their respective departments as per the requirements of the Act.”

Earlier, the Chairperson of the Chandigarh chapter, Ms Renuka Salwan, introduced the PRSI and the role it is playing in professionalising the practice of public relations in the country. 



News bulletin of industrial body released
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 16
The first issue of the ‘Mohali Industries Association (MIA) News’ was released today by Mr J.S. Bhatia, Chief Engineer, Punjab Small Industries and Export Corporation at a function in MIA Bhavan here today.

Following the Mohali Industries Association theme for the year “Competitiveness for Global Business” the focus areas for its members is to prepare themselves for technology up-gradation to face challenges of globalisation.

With a view to convey news relating to trade and industry, forthcoming events, government’s policy notifications of interest to entrepreneurs, GMP points, news relating and MIA activities in brief to members, it has been decided to bring out MIA News, a fortnightly news bulletin of the association in a multicoloured bold format, said the MIA president, Mr Balbir Singh.

The copies of the bulletin would be sent regularly to government officials, industrial circles, media in addition to MIA members. Mr S.P. Singh, General Manager (Estate), PSIEC, presided over the function.



PO arrested
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 16
The UT Police’s economic offences wing today arrested a proclaimed offender (PO) wanted in a cheating case.

The police said that 25-year-old Jatinder Kumar of Dera Bassi was arrested from his residence this morning. Jatinder was involved in a cheating case for duping city residents of lakhs of rupees on the pretext of providing residential plots to them in Zirakpur.

Sources added that Jatinder was working as a director in a Sector 22 based office, Pace Housing Company Private Limited, along with Rajesh Kumar Rawal, who was arrested by the police the previous day. Both remained elusive and were declared proclaimed offenders in 2003. A case of cheating and criminal conspiracy had been registered against them on the basis of a complaint field by Mr Manish Kumar of Ram Darbar.


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