C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Christmas revellers throng markets
Arvind Katyal

Chandigarh, December 24
Braving chilly weather, the festivities on the eve of Christmas were at their peak. It was a day that belonged to every age group, be it children, youths, aged. The markets were decorated and there was an unusual rush of visitors in various shopping complex, with people from all walks of life thronging the happening places to watch and buy something for someone.

Demand for cakes, Christmas trees and candles soon seemed to exceed supply. Little wonder then that something more was required for celebrating the occasion. That’s the reason why residents made a beeline at shops selling Christmas cakes.

As Saturday progressed, people made a beeline at the cake and pastry shops in Sectors 8, 35, 22, 21, 34, 11 and 10 to buy delicacies. Rum cakes and muffins and the special chocolate toppings were much in demand. Inside the shops, the residents could be seen looking at the special cakes placed strategically on the glass shelves.

In markets, Santas waved excitedly at the shoppers. Visitors to Sector 10, 11 market witnessed Santas travelling on auto rickshaws. Children were the happier lot as Santas offered them toffees. Even shops in Sectors 20, 29 and 30, besides 45 and 46 were well stocked with Christmas gifts.

The another attraction was, however, the electronic Santa that had arrived in city all the way from China. The local churches also bore a festive look and were decked up for tomorrow’s day.

To anyone coming to the city, it was really a great surprise that whole of Chandigarh turned into red and white.

Though for the past week, the city had witnessed a lot of Christmas related excitement in the ongoing week.

In the city, another noble trend was noticed when people visited charitable places to offer donations. The Blind School, Old Age Home, were the preferred venues.



Christmas brings joy and cheer to students
Tribune News Service

Students of Rai School, Sector 48, celebrate Christmas on the school campus in Chandigarh on Saturday.
Students of Rai School, Sector 48, celebrate Christmas on the school campus in Chandigarh on Saturday. — A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh, December 24
Fun and frolic marked the Christmas celebrations in various schools in Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula.

KB DAV School: The young ones of the school in Sector 7, Chandigarh, came dressed in bright vibrant clothes and sang Christmas carols and danced cheerfully. The children also exchanged gifts and food with each other. The celebrations concluded with the distribution of sweets to the children by school Principal Madhu Bahl.

GMSSS-46: At the Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 46, Chandigarh, a nature camp was organised under the aegis of the National Green Corps, Ministry of Environment and Forests, to mark the Christmas celebrations. As many as 70 boys and girls from different schools participated in the function. Also present was Mr S.K. Sharma, president, Environment Society of India, who released a pair of turkey on the occasion.

Rai School: At Rai School too, students turned up in their best outfits while some of them dressed up as Santa Claus. The choir group of the school presented various carols and participated in games like passing the parcel. The winning students were given gifts by the Principal of the school, Ms Punam Dogra. Gifts were also distributed by Santa Claus.


Students of The Gurukul, Sector 20, Panchkula, bring cheers to the children admitted in the General Hospital, Panchkula, on the eve of Christmas.
Students of The Gurukul, Sector 20, Panchkula, bring cheers to the children admitted in the General Hospital, Panchkula, on the eve of Christmas. — A Tribune photograph

The Gurukul: At the school in Panchkula, the young ones reflected the spirit of caring and sharing by visiting the paediatric ward at the General Hospital, Sector 6, along with Santa Claus.

The Gurukulites had a lot of fun in the school as well. The school and the classrooms were done up beautifully and the junior wing came dressed in their reds keeping with the festive mood. Special assembly was held wherein carols and Christmas songs were sung. The surprise of the day was the entry of the much-awaited Santa on his special sleigh. Ringing the bell and singing merrily, he went around spreading joy and distributing candies. The middle school had competitions like candle decoration, card making and gift wrapping. The senior wing had a host of competitions based on the theme of Christmas. The senior students had their share of fun too with party tiffins, cake and pastries and celebrations galore, especially with the unit tests being over.

BKM Viswas School: Students of B.K.M. Vishvas School, Sector 9, Panchkula, organised a Christmas party today with festive spirit. The Christmas tree was adorned with gifts, glitters, buntings and mistletoes while the school campus was beautifully decorated with streamers, bells and colorful balloons.

The tiny tots sang Christmas carols and the seniors staged a group dance on the occasion. Bubbling with joy the students dressed beautifully to give a boost to the festive spirit. Speaking on the occasion, school Principal and director of the Vishvas Foundation, sadhvi Neelima Vishvas, said, "Christmas is a time for love, sharing and caring for all." Santa Claus zestfully distributed sweets, cakes and gifts among the students.


Sri Hemkunt Public School: Students of Sri Hemkunt Public School, Sector 71, here, celebrated Christmas today.

Students of NIFD celebrate in a dance party on the eve of Christmas in Mohali on Saturday.
Students of NIFD celebrate in a dance party on the eve of Christmas in Mohali on Saturday. — A Tribune photograph

Tiny tots of the nursery class performed dance with Santa Claus. A skit based on the theme, “Unity in diversity”, boogie woggie and beach dances were presented by the students, according to the Principal of the school, Ms Iqbal Kaur.

The function concluded with gidha and bhangra presentations.

NIFD: Students of NIFD celebrated Christmas with great enthusiasm here today.

A dance party based on the theme jingle bells was organised.

The students also danced to the beats of various songs. Students also played a fun game. A student dressed as Santa Claus distributed sweets among the students.



Slum kids have X’mas pie at lakeview
Tribune News Service

Santa Claus waves to the people on the eve of Christmas at Sukhna Lake in Chandigarh on Saturday.
Santa Claus waves to the people on the eve of Christmas at Sukhna Lake in Chandigarh on Saturday. — Tribune photo by Manoj Mahajan

Chandigarh December 24
It was a day out full of sweets and treats with Santa Claus for about 150 slum children from Sector 25 Colony and Bapu Dham Colony, Sector 26, at Sukhna Lake today. They had been specially invited by the Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Development Corporation (CITCO) to celebrate Christmas at Chef Lakeview, Sukhna Lake.

The Chef Lakeview complex was specially decorated on the occasion with an X-Mas tree, stars, balloons and frills. A special musical cultural programme was organised in which children presented songs, dance and bhangra. Santa Claus came in a motor boat from the Sukhna Lake and distributed gifts and sweets to the children.

The children were also served soft drinks, ice creams, popcorns, milk, sandwiches, patties, cakes, toffees and chocolates. The Managing Director of CITCO, Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, while distributing gifts among the children said that the main motto of the celebration was to convey to the underprivileged children that they were also part of the festivity and CITCO cares for them.



X’mas festival at old age home
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 24
During the week-long Christmas celebrations at Sri Sathya Sai Old Age Home, Sector 30, here, a group from St Anne’s Parish Church, Sector 32, presented a Christmas carol and other devotional songs before the inmates of the home.

Mr A.K. Ummat, Trust Convener, said the organisation believed in sarv dharma, which emphasised on human values. He said Christmas for the inmates of the home would be celebrated tomorrow.



RC after 8 years: licencing authority fined Rs 50,000
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 24
Deficiency in service on the part of the Registration and Licencing Authority (RLA), Chandigarh, in issuing the registration certificate (RC) of an Ambassador car after eight years has cost it dear.

Coming down heavily on the RLA for harassing the owner of the vehicle, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in a recent order has observed that the compensation of Rs 50,000 awarded to the owner be recovered from the defaulting officers.

The owner of the Ambassador car, Mr Harmit Singh, could not ply the vehicle for eight years after buying it for Rs 1 lakh. By the time he got the RC, the vehicle had been reduced to a junk and it could not be sold.

Handing down the judgment, the commission observed that documents required for getting the RC were given on April 25, 1995, but the final document was delivered on June 3, 2003. In a modified order, the commission announced a compensation of Rs 50,000 in addition to costs awarded earlier by the state commission.

The complainant had purchased the car in Delhi and applied to the RLA, Chandigarh, for changing the ownership of the vehicle. He was given a slip for the receipt of the documents. Despite repeated visits to the RLA office the RC book was not issued and in 2001 he was told that the file was not traceable.

Thereafter a legal notice was served on the RLA on October 23, 2001.

Mr Harmit Singh moved the district forum and then the State Consumer Forum, before moving the national commission.



UT turns a blind eye to Kala Sagar
Sanjeev Singh Bariana

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 21
Originally promoted as a remarkable example of modern art by the Chandigarh Administration, Kala Sagar in Sector 36 today is a picture of absolute neglect. Except for a piece of land, the venue has no other area to show that the administration had taken any interest in its development. There is no mention of the ‘artistic wonder” anywhere in the official releases promoting city as a major tourist centre, this entire year.

The original creations were located in Leisure Valley, Sector 10, in 1998. The administration decided to shift the venue to the current location in 2001. A masterplan was prepared by the Department of Urban Planning. The official map shows a canteen, a toilet, a ticket counter and an office. The venue, however, has nothing except a small shop. Earlier, pamphlets of the Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Development Corporation (CITCO) made a special mention of the Kala Sagar.

The venue has a model of a railway engine, an aeroplane, swings, fountain, human figures and certain other creations. All the creations have been created out of waste bathroom fittings. The venue is surrounded by a ‘malba’ dumping site giving it an ugly look. All the displays are lying in the open and only a barbed wire separates the venue from the main road.

Mr Vijay Pal Goel, the creator, said he was given a letter by the administration saying the site was entirely his responsibility. “I was an ordinary sanitary fitter. I don’t have any financial resources. When the administration is funding a large number of social and cultural organisations, why cannot I be put on the same list?”

“I don’t even know which department to consult. Sometimes I am sent to the CITCO, sometimes to the Tourism Department, electricity department and other places for all my work. I will be calling on the current Director of Tourism asking him to intervene. I am surprised why the administration is not even paying the electricity bills here?” he said.

He showed an official letter signed by the Under Secretary of the Engineering Department addressed to the Executive Engineer, Division II, saying “you have been declared as the nodal officer to take away the exhibits from Mr Vijay Pal Goel at the earliest and prepare the estimate for developing the new site on the basis of architectural drawings”.

Goel a state awardee for his work, said the site cannot flourish without advertisement and the state has a major role to play in this direction. “I am willing to take the entire responsibility to maintain the park. However, there should be at least a minimal response from the administration officials. The senior officials are always forthcoming , however, all my work gets plugged at the lower level. I am trying for an audience with the seniors”.

Deepshikha Seghal, a student of BA II, said: “The art on display at Kala Sagar was original and deserved a better care. I am sure there will be some other parties engaged in similar activity.”



Glaxo manager dies in road accident
Tribune News Service

Lalru, December 24
Mr Naresh Chander Malik (55), a senior manager with Glaxo posted at Baddi, was killed when his Esteem car collided head-on with a Tata open body truck at Sarsini village, near here, this afternoon.

According to the police, Mr Malik, along with another employee, Mr Mool Chand, was on his way to Delhi when the truck coming from the Ambala side collided with his car. Mr Malik died on his way to Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), Sector 32, Chandigarh. Mr Mool Chand, who was seriously injured, has been admitted to the GMCH, Mr Amrik Singh, investigating officer, said.

The truck has been impounded and a case registered.



Avian beauties are here
Sanjeev Singh Bariana

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 24
Avian beauties from the Himalayas and the snow- clad mountains in China, Pakistan, Nepal, Afghanistan and some parts of Central Asia have descended on the water bodies all over North India. These days, wetlands near the Chhatbir Zoo and the Sukhna Lake are house to thousands of birds.

The visitors include the Coot, Black Winged Stilt, Mallard, Common, Tufted and Red Crested Pochard, Common Moor Hen, Shoveller, Riff, Reeve, Common Sandpipers, Plover, Bar Headed Geese, Ruddy Shelduck, Cormorant, Little Grebe, Egret and the Pintail. Siberian Crane has not been spotted at the lake so far. The bird has been avoiding the lake for the past five years.

Water bodies with lesser human interference attract the visiting birds. Bharatpur in Rajasthan, areas along the river Beas in Punjab are their favourite halts. The birds start arriving around the last week of November. They lay and hatch their eggs and fly away between February and March.

Mr Ishwar Singh, the Deputy Conservator of Forests, said that the “birds at the Sukhna descend around the Regulator End. We have not banned anyone’s entry, however, we try to avoid any major rush”


Passing Thru

John David, skating coach at the Haryana Sports Department in Faridabad
John David, skating coach at the Haryana Sports Department in Faridabad

How long have you been associated with roller skating?

As a player, I have represented India in the world and Asian championships. I have captained Indian roller hockey team in the 3rd Asian Championship in China and won bronze medal in 1989. I also led Punjab team in many nationals for the victory. Since 1991, I am with the Haryana Sports Department. I am here in Panchkula as a technical official for the 19th Sushil Kumar Memorial Haryana State Roller Skating Championship where my team, Faridabad district, also participated.

What are your achievements as a coach?

I have coached country’s men roller hockey team for bronze medal in the Asian Championship in South Korea in 1997. I received Governor Award for excellence in coaching in 1998, and have produced number of national and international players.

How’s the government’s response towards the game?

In Haryana, skaters are getting a lot of benefits. They are awarded with scholarships, gradations and other sports quota benefits as other sports persons get.

The state government is also keen in adding infrastructure but still it has to go a long way.

How do you rate skating in Faridabad?

Level is quite good. Young children are enthusiastic for the game. Infrastructure wise we are having the best in the country. India’s first banked track skating rink with international standards is in Faridabad.

— G.S. Paul



City residents don't care two hoots about safety on roads
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 24
Blame it on the lack of awareness or the mushrooming of the roadside vendors, the sale of substandard non-ISI helmets is on the rise putting the precious lives in danger.

Statistics from the police reveal that around 141 fatal accidents took place in the year 2004 and the number increased to approximately 190 from January 2005 till date. Out of these, a substantial number of fatal accidents occurred because of head injuries where the riders were either not wearing safety helmets or wearing one without bearing ISI-mark.

The Tribune team found at least 10 cases today in just a span of 20 minutes on main roads of various parts of the city where the two wheeler drivers, pillion riders or even triple riders were riding without wearing helmets.

Only 10 per cent of the two wheeler riders wear proper approved headgear while rest ones wear it just to evade being getting challaned, little bothering about the consequences in case of an accident.

An ISI mark helmet costs anywhere between Rs 850 to Rs 1,000 whereas the ordinary one starts from Rs 250.

A helmet seller at Sector 28 shop said, "A majority of two wheeler riders ask for an ordinary helmet even if we explain them about the safety standards of an ISI-mark one. The cost factor may be one of the reasons because the ISI mark helmet costs more than double the amount of an ordinary one."

The non-ISI mark helmets are being sold openly on the roadsides and that too under the nose of police men.

"We stock only ordinary ones, as there is more profit margins in selling the ordinary helmets comparative to the branded ones. Moreover, they are not much in demand", said a roadside helmet seller.

Earlier, the Chandigarh police carried out a sustained drive to ensure better compliance to the provisions of law on wearing of protective headgear by the riders, who were educated to wear ISI marked helmets and to properly fasten the same by means of chin straps. The District Magistrate has banned the sale of non ISI-mark helmet.

On being asked, a policeman said, "No, we are not conducting any such drive at present to keep a check on use of these unauthorised helmets by two wheeler riders. It is a worrisome exercise but in the interest of safety of the people we are ready to educate them if ordered by the authorities to do so."

As part of attempts to enforce the helmet rule across the country, the Centre is proposing to make it mandatory for two wheeler manufacturers to offer at least one ISI- marked protective headgear along with new vehicle they sell. But this logic is hard to see. Among other reasons, one reason could be that a customer who has sold his old bike and plans to buy a new one can not be forced to buy a new helmet.

Any way, the life is worth spending Rs 1,000 on an approved ISI- mark safety helmet while driving or riding a two wheeler.



15 Mohali residents lose voting right
Our Correspondent

Mohali, December 24
The orders have been issued for the deletion of 15 names, including that of a former municipal councillor, from the revised electoral rolls for the coming Assembly elections.

The action has been taken against the electors as non-bailable warrants in different cases have been pending against them for more than six months.

Sources said the deletion of names had been done on the basis of directions given by the Election Commission of India to the Chief Electoral Officers of all states (except Bihar) and Union Territories.

The letter of the commission dated August 10 sent by its Secretary, Mr R.K. Srivastva, stated that a “list of persons against whom non-bailable warrants are pending for more than six months in your state may be obtained from the Director General of Police of your state / Union Territory by September 10.

According to the list provided by the Ropar SSP, 15 persons against whom non-bailable warrants were lying pending were the residents of Mohali and lived in different parts of the town.

As many as 2,24,934 persons have been registered as voters from the Kharar constituency after the latest revision of electoral rolls which was done last month. Out of the total number of voters 1,44,418 are from Mohali tehsil while 80,516 voters are from other parts of the Kharar constituency.

The sources said if Mohali was made an independent constituency, it would have 1.54 lakh voters. Nine villages would be added to the tehsil to make it into a constituency. The Kharar constituency included areas under Mohali, Kharar, Bassi Pathana tehsils and Zirakpur town.

The residents who were unable to get themselves registered as voters last month could avail a chance in February. They could fill form no 6 after getting it from the SDM’s office here. The remaining votes would be made from February 2 to February 22.



British Library to open membership
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 24
With a wide collection of books, periodicals and newspapers, educational games and CD ROMs and a whole range of DVDs, British Library which opens its membership on January 15, 2006 is all set to offer an array of additional facilities and resources.

A treasure trove of information, the library drew as many as 4000 new members last year. Mr Sushant Banerjee, Manager, British Library, informed that this year the number of new members will be restricted only to 1500 with no raise in the membership fee.

Also in the offing is a biography section, additions to the IT and management section and a range of DVDs. A slew of other programmes for the Reader’s Club, family members are also lined up.

Mr Banerjee said that a classical concert on January 1 and the visit of authors like Minakshi Chaudhry are also planned.

Asked about competition from other libraries, he said the library has loyal members from children to families to corporates and the number is increasing.



A forenoon of short stories
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 24
The Chandigarh Sahitya Akademy organised “Kahani Poorvanha”, a forenoon of short stories today at the academy hall. Welcoming the writers, the Akademy Chairman, Dr Naresh, observed that listening to a story could be as enjoyable as the poetry. Noted litterateurs, including Virender Mehndiratta, Dr Kewal Dheer and Om Parkash Gaso read out their choicest stories and shared literary experiences.

Dr Suresh Seth delivered a brief talk on the status of short stories in contemporary Indian literature. Dr Jaspal Singh, Editor, Desh Sewak, opined that a good short stories could haunt the listener or reader for long if it had the quality of treatment and inbuilt message to deliver.

Akademy secretary Prem Vij proposed the vote of thanks while Dr Meera Gautam compered the programme.



Forum celebrates Consumer Day

Chandigarh, December 24
The National Consumer Day was celebrated by the Consumer Forum, Chandigarh, by organising a seminar on state and NGOs role in consumer protection at Art Gallery, Sector 10, here, today. Mr S.C. Sharma, Joint Director of Food and Supplies Department, Chandigarh, presided over the function.

Col P.K. Vasudeva ( retd), a former member of the State Commission, UT, while speaking on the occasion, said amendments in the Consumer Protection Act had resulted in emerging of a powerful instrument for the speedy redressal of complaints. He said the constitution of state protection council was mandatory but no state had moved forward in this direction.

Col Swaran Singh, Chairman of the forum, Mr H.S. Walia, a former member of the redressal forum, Mr Narinder Singh and Mr R.K. Kaplash also spoke on the occasion. — TNS



Fake Rs 500 note found in wad of currency
Our Correspondent

Mohali, December 24
A resident of Phase II alleged that he had received a fake Rs 500 note from the currency withdrawn from the ICICI Bank in Phase VII here today.

Mr Rajnish Kumar said that he had withdrawn Rs 25,000 from the ATM of the ICICI Bank. When he went to deposit the amount in the HDFC Bank in Sector 37, Chandigarh, the official on duty refused to take one Rs 500 note, alleging that it was fake. He said that then he came to the ICICI Bank to return the note but staff members here refused to take back the currency.

He said that he then lodged a complaint with the police. The police reached the bank and recorded the statements of Mr Rajnish Kumar. The police also carried out investigations in the ATM booth for a long time. Persons who had come to withdraw cash had to return because police inquiries were going on.

It was reported that the bank branch manager was on leave and no other official was ready to give any statement in this regard.

The SP, Mr Varinder Pal Singh, said the police was investigating the matter. He said it was not sure whether the fake Rs 500 note was withdrawn from the ATM counter of the bank or had been received from elsewhere. The currency in the bank ATM would be checked to reach some conclusion.


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