C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Bangalore killing: shockwaves in UT
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Astha and Abhinav
Astha and Abhinav

Chandigarh, December 29
Even as various scientific institutes in the city today stepped up security following the terror attack at the Indian Institute of Science(IISc), Bangalore, last night, the family of Panjab University Professor Dr Sangeeta Arora, who is attending a similar conference at Bangalore, is thanking its stars as she is safe.

Talking over the phone, Dr Arora, who is at the Indian Institute of Statistics, Bangalore, barely a few kilometers from the IISc said: ‘‘The atmosphere is tense here and the conference delegates are in a state of shock over what happened last night. No one can believe that killers would target academicians and scientists to get attention. While our conference is still on, the IISc conference has been cut short.’’

Another PU professor Dr Savita Bhatnagar who came back from IISc a few days ago is horrified over what happened at the venue where she was busy attending a conference just a week ago.

The university’s connection to the incident does not end here. Dr Vanita Varma, a Reader in PU Department of Mathematics, lost her PhD guide and mentor Dr M.C Puri in the shootout.

‘‘Vanita was working with Dr Puri at IIT 14 years ago. Some years ago he had also visited the department,’’ recalled Dr Madhu Raka, Head of the Department of Mathematics adding that Dr Varma was in Mumbai on leave.

Dr Savita Bhatnagar, also from the Department of Mathematics said, ‘‘I was there till last week. The same place, same venue. In fact it is the only get together of mathematicians and statisticians from all across India that is going on at IISc. I had gone to attend the conferences that dealt with my field of mathematics which ended last week after which this one began where the attack took place. When I saw it in the news last night I really got scared. What if it had happened that day when I was there? And there are no security arrangements at these conferences. No one attending such seminars imagines even for a minute that they could be a target of terrorist attacks,’’ she said.

For the Arora siblings with their mother, Dr Sangeeta, away to Bangalore, yesterday’s TV news is something they would never forget. ‘‘I and my brother were at home when we heard on a channel that there had been an attack at IISc. We knew that mother was attending a conference on statistics but did not know the venue. We called our father who contacted her on the mobile. She said she was safe and near the venue but had not received the news as yet,’’ related Aastha and Abhinav.

Condemning this first ever act of terrorism against scientists, the city’s academic fraternity also expressed apprehension that places like universities and colleges can never be made secure enough if terrorists decide to target them.

‘‘Such unfortunate acts lower the morale of the academic community and spoil the general environment’’, said Dr K.N. Pathak, Panjab University Vice-Chancellor, adding that such incidents should be condemned.

Dr Pawan Kapoor, Director Central Scientific Instrumentation Organization (CSIO), said while security had been stepped up on the campus, a careful combing would also be carried out internally. ‘‘This is cowardly act which points at the frustration levels that terrorist groups have reached. It is really a shameful act,’’ he said.

Stating that providing full security in a college or a university is virtually impossible, Dr Vijay Gupta, Director of the Punjab Engineering College Deemed University, pointed out that terrorists chose soft targets for its shock value and media attention. 



Cong mayoral candidate in cheating row
Accused of duping NRI
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
Call it an in-house sting operation or the handiwork of the opposition candidates; a complaint is being circulated in the city accusing the Congress nominee for the post of Mayor, Mr Surinder Singh, of duping an NRI to the tune of Rs 10 lakh in a fake property deal. Though the source of the letter is unknown, the Opposition candidates are now cashing in on this ‘‘property deal having gone sour’’ and have made this alleged ‘‘case of cheating’’ as their main political agenda, accusing Mr Surinder Singh, a property dealer by profession, of selling a showroom that never existed.

The complaint filed with the SSP, Chandigarh, is now doing the rounds of newspaper offices, with an NRI, Mr Daljit Singh Sodhi, a resident of Panchkula alleging that Mr Surinder Singh took Rs 10 lakh as advance payment for the deal of a showroom on the Chandigarh-Zirakpur highway costing Rs 26 lakh. He alleged that the said showroom did not exist.

On hearing about the nomination of Mr Surinder Singh for the post of Mayor, Mr Sunil of Pipliwala Town in Manimajra has also dashed off a letter to the UT Administrator, Gen S.F Rodrigues (retd), bringing to his notice, ‘‘cheating by the Congress nominee’’.

However, Mr Surinder Singh told reporters that he had already reached a compromise with the complainant and added that the whole thing was politically motivated and timed to coincide with the elections. ‘‘The matter has been resolved and the complaint was filed long ago’’.

As per the written complaint to the SSP, Chandigarh, with a copy to S.H.O Manimajra, Mr Daljeet Singh Sodhi has stated that Mr Surinder Singh had received Rs 3 lakh on December 12, 2004, and another Rs 7 lakh on January 20, 2005 and it had been agreed that the transaction would be completed by April 30, 2005. But when Mr Sodhi inquired about the showroom No 23, Neel Kanth Shopping Plaza, on the Chandigarh-Zirakpur road he came to know that no showroom existed.

He further stated that he had come to know that Mr Surinder Singh was neither the owner of the land in question, nor had any rights to sell the same.

Mr Sodhi has also said in his complaint that he was receiving threats to his life from Mr Surinder Singh for demanding his money back. The complaint by Mr Sodhi is undated, but is accompanied by receipts of Rs 3 and Rs 7 lakh issued on behalf of Bharat Property Dealers, run by Mr Surinder Singh.

Mr Sunil, a resident of Manimajra, who has written to the UT Governor, was not available for comment, but his lawyer, Mr Chetan Mittal said his client had written a letter to the Governor because his client too had had a bad experience while dealing with the Congress candidate.

Sources in the Chandigarh Police confirmed that they had received a complaint sometime in the month of May or June 2005 and the matter was investigated.

Statements of both the parties were also recorded and subsequently the two parties arrived at a compromise following which Mr Sodhi gave in writing that he had received his money back and he wanted to withdraw his complaint.

Subsequently, the complaint was filed. It may be mentioned that the issue had also been reported by the media at that time.

The Chandigarh Congress President, Mr B.B Bahl, said he was not aware of any such incident, but added that if something substantial was found against Mr Surinder Singh then action would be initiated at party level.



Spurt in jaundice cases in Hallo Majra
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
Contaminated drinking water supply from “illegal” connections and heaps of garbage dotting the entire Hallo Majra has led to a spurt in cases of viral hepatitis, commonly known as jaundice, in the village.

While six confirmed cases of jaundice have come to light so far, a team of the Health Department today took blood samples of 61 more patients for investigation. Even as the three teams constituted by the department spread out in the village, villagers expected a rise in the number of cases since a number of people have been taken ill.

“We have repeatedly highlighted the need for an earmarked dumping ground in our village with a population of 35,000 people. The 10 sweepers sanctioned for us are certainly not enough though they are trying to do a good job. The Administration must wake up to our needs to prevent spread of illness,” says the village sarpanch, Mr Sukhjit Singh.

Though garbage is one aspect of the problem, the other glaring issue is that of illegal water connections in the village. As many as 40 such connections are the real culprits this time. Several houses of migrants have their illegal water connections running through temporary drains which leads to contamination and finally illness.

“Most of these connections are activated during night time and contamination takes place when pressure is exerted to pull out water from the water supply lines. We held a meeting with the villagers and asked them to dismantle all such temporary connections by today evening. Tomorrow we will take charge of the area and do the needful if the villagers don’t cooperate,” said UT Chief Engineer, VK Bhardwaj.

A team from the Public Health Wing of the UT Engineering Department, too, carried out a thorough inspection of Hallo Majra to identify all such illegal connections. Also, the Director, Health Services, Dr I.K. Walia, after a visit to the village, said that people were being urged to boil or chlorinate water before consuming it.

A mobile van has been stationed at the village from 9 am to 5 pm not only to collect blood samples of patients but distribute medicines free of cost and go from door to door in search of patients.

The entire population of Khera Chowk was screened through these house-to-house visits. “Since the results of the blood samples collected by our team will take some time, we have started symptomatic treatment of patients and put the dispensary in the area on alert,” Dr Walia said.

The Public Health Department, at its level, collected five water samples from the village and got these tested for bacteriological examination. “We did so to be doubly sure and the results show there is nothing wrong with our supplies. The problem has its roots in the illegal connections,” Mr Bhardwaj added.

However, wary people without legal water connections, fearing contamination of water, are relying on water being supplied through tankers stationed in the village. Villagers were distributed pamphlets of various ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ and chlorine tablets as part of the awareness drive while announcements on mega phones continued throughout the day to drive home the various safeguards against jaundice.



Monthly MC parking pass from January 1
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
Residents of the city can avail the facilities of a monthly pass for parking of the Municipal Corporation spread all over the city from January 1, 2006 onwards. The multi system (city) parking pass is being introduced for public convenience.

The pass for the car parking and other four wheelers will cost Rs 300 per month while the charges for the two wheelers will be Rs 150 per month.

Confirming this, Mr K.B. Sharma, Chief Engineer of the corporation, confirmed that the MC moved to introduce the monthly passes from January 1 onwards. He said passes were ready and would be available with Mr S.K. Chadha, Executive Engineer (Roads).

The scheme will be applicable only in the parkings controlled by the corporation, at least in the first phase of its implementation. The areas include the parkings under control of the corporation in Sectors 8, 9, 17, 22, 34, 35, Shanti Kunj and Sukhna Lake Club. The corporation is likely to also include the parking in Sector 22-B, one located opposite the Inter State Bus terminus in Sector 17, following a formal clearance by the Finance and Contract Committee of the corporation shortly.

The MC decision to introduce monthly passes covering different sectors comes following persistent demand by the residents seeking a monthly pass instead of having to dig into their pockets at all the parking lots.

Mr Atul Mishra, a salesman promoting a pharmaceutical brand, said the pass would be a great benefit to “workers in my category of jobs. Ours is a travelling job and we have to travel to different markets every day to sell our products. We were expected to pay separately at all the parkings.”

“The MC move to introduce monthly passes was initially not received well by the private contractors in the business of paid parking. They thought that the rate being offered by the MC was less and had demanded higher prices. The matter was argued to a logical solution”, a senior official said.

A Congress councillor said the move of the MC needed to be expanded to cover all the parkings in the city because the hospitals and theatres were also part of the city. He was speaking in the context of the pass not covering the parkings at the PGIMER, government hospitals, Sectors 16 and 32, besides theatres as well.



Fog hits rail, road traffic

Chandigarh, December 29
Cold wave in Punjab and Haryana led to further dip in the mercury as foggy weather persisted in many parts of the north-west region today, affecting train and road traffic.

The temperature hovered one degree to five degrees below normal in the two states. Dense fog engulfed several areas, including Ambala, Karnal, Patiala and Delhi, while Amritsar and Chandigarh reported mist.

Several long-distance trains on the Delhi-Jammu and Delhi-Amritsar routes were running two to four hours behind schedule, a report from Jalandhar quoting a railway spokesman said.

While the cold wave has already claimed the lives of 12 persons, as many as nine persons have died due to fog-related incidents in the region so far.

Cold wave conditions prevailing in parts of Punjab and Haryana are likely to continue for the next two days with the possibility of ground frost occurring at a few places in these states, according to the Weather Office here.

Jalandhar at 1.2°C was the coldest place in Punjab as icy cold winds swept the city last night. Mercury dipped one degree below normal at Amritsar recording 2.5 degree, followed by Patiala, registering 3.5 degree, four degree below normal. Ludhiana recorded a low of 3.9 degree, two degree below normal.

Ambala recorded the minimum temperature at 2.5°C, four degrees below normal, while Karnal reported 2.8 degrees, five degrees below normal.

Chandigarh and its adjoining areas reeled under cold wave conditions following further fall in the temperature in the city to 4 degree, three degree below normal.

Cold wave lashed tribal areas and mid-hills in Himachal Pradesh. However, the temperature rose from 4.5 degree to 5.2 degree at Shimla.

There was no let-up in the cold wave sweeping Srinagar where the mercury further dropped to -2°C. Jammu recorded a low temperature at 6.7 degree hovering one degree below normal. Delhi recorded a drop in the minimum temperature by two degrees.

The weather is likely to be sunny in Himachal Pradesh while fog and low clouds are expected over Punjab and Haryana during the next 24 hours. — UNI



Passing Thru

Artur Cygan
Artur Cygan Multimedia Developer, Toronto, Canada

What is your impression of Chandigarh?

Take the city and put it anywhere in the world and it would fit in very well. You can even put it anywhere in Europe and it will gel with the rest. But I wonder why people do not take advantage of the natural resource like the sunlight and use solar panels for heating and lighting the way they use it in Nepal which is a much poorer country. Also I find that people take a long time to do everything.

How do you like the architecture here?

It is very well planned, a lot of thought has going into designing the city. Yet, the houses are not architecturally planned to be more suitable for this climate. For example the thick walls could have had hollow space for insulation.

Chandigarh is becoming an IT destination does it compare with your work environment?

I have seen the IT Park, it is coming up very well and it may provide opportunity for the city to grow further, but there is need for a lot of improvement on the infrastructure front. Take Internet for example, it is very sluggish and slow as compared to that in Canada.

What did you like the most here?

I love the Indian food; it is excellent and pampers your taste buds.

— Naveen Garewal



Recall 2005
Property prices at an all-time high
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali: Close on the heels of the launch of QuarkCity in Mohali last year, 2005 began with the opening of Dell’s customer care centre here. Marking the beginning of an irreversible process of a grand line-up of IT companies in the township, QuarkCity and Dell established Mohali’s position firmly on the IT world map.

Property prices touched an all-time high with cost of land around the township going up from Rs 30 lakh an acre to Rs 1 crore an acre. Rates of residential plots within the township trebled and went beyond the reach of the common man, who took refuge in buying apartments in the small private colonies that mushroomed in abundance around the township.

Large housing projects approved by the Punjab Government’s Empowered Committee, promising the residents the world, loomed on the horizon by the end of the year.

The new periphery policy also took final shape in 2005. After 1998, the government allowed regularisation of all unauthorised structures in Chandigarh’s periphery that had been constructed before November 1, 2005. More of a political move, the regularisation came with a comprehensive idea to develop the periphery in a planned manner.

While PUDA also increased the rates of its residential plots, its main source of income remained the auction of commercial property, with prices of an SCO touching a new high of Rs 2.5 crore. Changing from its policy of allotment to auction, PUDA fetched crores through the auction of school sites in the township. The PSIEC auctioned its commercial properties at record prices but its multiplex-cum-hotel sites broke all records.

Despite international attention that this township got when Michael Dell opened the Dell centre, the state of the township’s infrastructure and basic facilities remained abysmal throughout the year. The state of roads, cleanliness and stray cattle, there was not a single issue for which a permanent solution could be found by the municipal council.

The council managed to house itself in an all-glass structure, that cost crores, before the year-end, but left the residents fuming when water and sewerage charges were hiked by the council.

Residents continued to crib till the last day of the five-year term of the municipal council, that disbanded by the end of the year. Unsavoury haggling among the councillors and local politicians delayed the delimitation of wards for fresh elections, till finally, an administrator was asked to look after the town’s affairs till fresh elections could take place.

The delimitation issue gave birth to a raging controversy when the Kharar MLA, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, levelled serious allegations against the Minister for Local Bodies, Mr Jagjit Singh forcing the PPCC chief, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, to issue a notice to the MLA.

The year also sounded the death knell of the vital role PUDA had been playing in urban development for the past decade since its inception. With widespread changes being made by the Department of Housing and Urban Development in the licensing policy for small private colonies, PUDA was left virtually without work, given to the Department of Town and Country Planning. Town and country planners, who had never looked beyond the drawing board, were busy approving colonies through the year.

Farmers protesting against the acquisition of their land by PUDA also left PUDA with no work. The year-long agitation seemed to have borne fruit when, by the end of the year, the farmers struck deals with private builders and sold their land.

With the government allowing almost a dozen private developers to take up housing projects in 100 acres within the Mohali grid, PUDA would soon be left with no land to acquire and develop.



Bus stand turns into unauthorised taxis’ paradise
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Dera Bassi, December 29
Constructed for the purpose of halting and parking of buses, the Dera Bassi bus stand has turned into unauthorised taxis’ paradise.With the district transport authorities turning a blind eye to this development, unauthorised taxis are having a field day in Dera Bassi.

The precious space of the local bus stand has been encroached upon by illegal taxis much to the chagrin of residents and the Municipal Council. Besides inconveniencing the general public, the illegal taxi operators evade tax, putting the state exchequer to a huge loss.

Sources said that a majority of taxis parked in the bus stand area, which has mushroomed into a major illegal taxi stand in the town, were private vehicles having no permits to ply as taxis.

And with the long-route buses skipping the bus stand, the space has virtually been taken over by illegal taxi operators. A visit to the spot revealed that the taxis have become a source of nuisance for residents, particularly during the evening time.

In the evening, the area turns into a virtual “ahata”, with the taxi drivers drinking in the open making residents’ movement difficult. It appears that the police is a mute spectator to the drinking bouts and the encroachments, alleged a woman teacher living in the town.

Meanwhile, the president of the municipal council, Mr Amritpal Singh, expressed helplessness in removing the encroachments as the civic body did not have any punitive powers. He regretted that despite repeated representations to the district administration, nothing had been done to tackle the illegal taxi menace.

Admitting that the unauthorised taxis were a source of nuisance to residents, Mr Amritpal Singh alleged that the role of the police had also not been helpful in dealing with the illegal taxi operators. He said the civic body would again approach the district administration to take a stern action again them.



Road repairs to continue: Mayor
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
The Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh has upgraded and repaired roads measuring 200 km in the city during the ongoing financial year against the set target of 280 km. The remaining length will be completed before the commencement of the next financial year.

This was said by Ms Anu Chatrath, the outgoing Mayor, while addressing a press conference here today. The conference was called in connection with the completion of one-year term of the Mayor. She relinquishes her office on December 31.

Ms Chatrath said the corporation had decided that the city roads would be repaired after five years.

The corporation had set up at least seven new green belts this year which was far above the average of two each year. The Mayor expressed hope over the release of 20 MGD water from the Phase IV of Kajauli Water Works which was ready. As many as 17 new tubewells, against the planned 32, had been installed till date.

The corporation had completed 1,000 vertical road gullies, in addition to storm water drain lines. The Sewerage Treatment Plant at Raipur Kalan had been made operational and construction of a plant at Maloya had been approved.

The Mayor said the project for Idle Truck Parking would soon be completed. Being constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 2.15 crore, the venue would give space for 250 trucks at a time. The parking also plans to house a dormitory for the drivers.



‘Need to change mindset to end corruption’
Our Correspondent

Mohali, December 29
There is a need to change the mindset of the people to root out corruption, which has become deep-rooted in society. These views were expressed by Dr Charankamal Singh, chairman of the Anti-Corruption and Social Development Organisation, at a press conference here today.

He said corruption was prevalent in every sector and had, in fact, become a part of the system everywhere. Even though the Central Government and the Punjab Government had taken a strong stand against corruption, desired results could not be achieved.

As long as corruption played a big role, poor people would not be able to get justice. Corruption would not come to an end by nabbing officials involved in it. There was a need to create awareness to change the mindset of the people so that they could raise their voice against it.

The chairman said that his organisation would recruit more members but they need to have a clean image. These members would be provided training at special camps so that they were able to help people to raise their voice against corruption.

He said in February next year, a “prachar yatra” would be organised which would start from Gurdwara Dukh Niwaran Sahib in Patiala and after passing through various districts of the state would culminate at Darbar Sahib in Amritsar.

Dr Charankamal Singh further said his organisation would appeal to all political parties to give tickets for contesting elections only to persons who had a clean image.



National Federation of Blind on warpath
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
The convener of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) Punjab and Haryana, Mr Jaage Ram, has said that the indifferent attitude of the Punjab and Haryana state governments towards their demands, has compelled them to resume their agitation.

These demands include proper implementation of job and educational reservation, implementation of disability Act and regularisation of chair recaners working in Haryana for more than 15 years.

Members of the federation alleged that reluctance over recruitment, lack of commitment, vote bank politics and insensitivity of officials were some of the reasons responsible for delay in the implementation of their demands.

“A dharna by the NFB is already on in Delhi to impress upon the central government to fulfil the demands. We, too, will have to resort to dharnas if the indifference continues,” Mr Ram said.



Proper scheme sought for areas outside ‘phirnis’
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
Expressing concern over the haphazard growth outside the village phirni, the sub-group on “development of villages” has suggested that a proper scheme should be evolved for the development of areas outside the village phirnis.

In the report, which is being tabled in the forthcoming Administrator’s Advisory council meeting, it has been recommended that the existing pucca structures outside the village phirni be regulated and separate building bylaws be framed to govern the haphazard construction activity.

The sub-group, constituted for the development of the UT villages, has recommended remodelling of the hub of the villages to do away with the unhygienic conditions and haphazard growth.

Acknowledging the fact that most of the villages had outgrown their abadi deh areas, the report has said that certain development charges should be levied to regulate the structures.

In case of the villages falling within the sectoral grid, environment-friendly commercial activity has been suggested.

It has been suggested that on an experimental basis, a portion of the village abadi area be identified for re-development purposes. After carrying out the development, the inhabitants could be rehabilitated at the same place by allotting them residential or commercial premises.

Under the rehabilitation plan the involvement of private sector for beautification has been recommended. A similar proposal has already been conceived for Badheri village by the Chandigarh Administration.

Focusing on remodelling of village hubs by widening the narrow lanes, acquisition of the land required for the widening of the lanes has been said. “In case it was not possible, the narrow streets should be given concrete surfaces and the drains converted to underground systems. The electric wiring should be upgraded and made secure,” says the report.

To avoid congestion, proper hygiene and sanitation, framing of suitable by-laws to regulate the new constructions has been stressed. It has been pointed out that there was a need to regulate renting of premises to control overcrowding and carrying on commercial activity.

The members have suggested commercial activity such as computer-related activities, arts and crafts, tailoring, embroidery, knitting, which do not require the use of water, chemicals to be encouraged. Activities leading to insanitation and noise pollution should not be permitted. Making of eatables for commercial sale should be banned except for those giving specific permission for local consumption.

It has been stressed that notified guidelines in four villages - Burail, Attawa, Badheri and Buterla - should be implemented with certain amendments and legal powers for their enforcement. The remaining two villages in the sectoral grid, Kajheri and Palsora, falling in Sector 52 and 55, should be declared as “Site of Capital”.

For the villages outside the sectoral grid, the sub-group has recommended that socially conscious corporates like Infosys, Wipro and DLF, which are setting up IT projects, be approached to adopt the villages for their upkeep, development and run IT training centres in the villages.

Focusing on the city and Mohali coming up as IT centres, the committee has sought that benefits of the IT-related employment opportunities should reach the villagers.



Calendar that speaks for dumb creatures
Vishal Gulati

Shehenshah is a lion who had been beaten up and starved for days so that he would perform tricks. He had sores on his head and maggots on feet. His territory was just a cage, barely larger than his body. Thanks to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) that made him a real “Shehenshah”. It has rescued him from a circus following a government ban on using lions and tigers in circuses.

Today Shehenshah lives with dignity in a rescue centre along with his Rani, a lioness, who was also rescued from a circus.

Many stories like this featured in the “Rescued” calendar — 2006 released by PETA to create awareness among the public towards animal welfare.

Another leaf of the calendar portrays the story of Bukul, a stray male cat. A PETA staffer noticed the cat that seemed wary of humans and was limping. She caught the cat and got him treated. Since then Bukul has been living in and around her house and lords over other cats.

The calendar says never buy a pet from a breeder. Adopt stray animals, have them sterilised, reserve a place in your house and ensure that other people in the neighbourhood respect them.

Similarly, Sultan, a tiger, who had been rescued from the Empire Circus by PETA and the People for Animals, is being rehabilitated at a rescue centre and is learning to trust humans.

Another story is about Gobeldy Gook, the brilliantly coloured turkey, who had been caged in a school’s mini zoo. When rescued, his wings were in a terrible state. Now in a sanctuary, Gook is undergoing treatment and learning to walk from his “foster parents”.

Pappu, an adorable parrot, is also learning “parrot-speak” from other parrots in a sanctuary.

It warns against patronising businesses that use exotic animals as living attractions.

People who show off exotic animals increase the demand for such animals and are partly responsible for the suffering of the animals.

For every bird who reaches the market, at least two die en route.

Other rescued animals include a civet cat named Aishwarya, a goose couple named Goosey and Gander and a hippopotamus named Nina.

Says chief functionary of PETA Anuradha Sawhney: “The calendar is filled with happy endings to stories that had not-so-happy beginnings. These animals are the lucky ones. Millions of other animal stories don’t end happily.”



A source of inspiration for others
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 29
Jamil Khan of Billa village here is a perfect example of how to make the best use of schemes implemented by the government to assist the needy in taking up income-generating activities.

This 42-year-old matriculate has been making durries, a skill he inherited from his ancestors. But it was difficult for him to make both ends meet and educate his two daughters and two sons.

But today, the life of Jamil has turned into a success story and has a lot to inspire others. Thanks to the micro-financing of self-help groups, Jamil and nine others received Rs 1.5 lakh as loan and Rs 1 lakh as subsidy from the district administration.

Talking to mediapersons here today, Jamil said that the group collectively purchased raw material to make durries, mats, carpets and other such material in their village. The district administration imparted them training from time to time to improve their skills and now business was flourishing.

He weaves durries and carpets of modern designs and by marketing these successfully, the family’s income has increased.

Jamil said the material prepared by their group had been displayed and sold in the fairs being organised in different parts of the country, including Delhi and Hyderabad. He said his wife Sabri and children had also been helping him in this trade, which enabled them to earn a profit of Rs 2500 per month.

He said he had been imparting training to his children in this trade as it would help them set up their own units later. Jamil said he would soon repay the loan and obtain more financial assistance to expand his unit.

It is the success of self-help groups like this that has now prompted the district administration to set up more self-help groups. The administration has been initiating talks with banks to finance these self-help groups.



UT to give financial help to unemployed youth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
The Department of Industries, Chandigarh Administration, has invited applications from the unemployed youth seeking financial assistance for setting up their own venture so that they can become self-reliant. The assistance is meant for youth in the age group between 18 and 35 years.

Financial assistance of Rs 2 lakh, will be given to individuals and upto Rs 10 lakh, for a group of persons, will be made available under the Prime Minister's Rozgar Yojna. The applicant should have passed Class VII examinations. Age relaxation of 10 years will be given to the youth belonging to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Ex-Servicemen and Physically Handicapped categories.

Similarly, women candidates applying for the assistance will also be given age relaxation of 10 years. The financial assistance will be provided in the form of loan subsidy on easy terms and conditions.



New Year celebrations: cops issue warning
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 29
To usher in a peaceful 2006 and keep mischief-mongers at bay, the local police sought the cooperation of organisers of New Year functions. During the meeting chaired by the UT Deputy Superintendents of Police (DSP) (Central and East) on Wednesday, the message of the police was loud and clear—-trouble-makers would not be spared and cops would be spread all over the city to ensure peace.

‘Axing’ New Year celebrations by an hour, the DSPs, Mr Vijay Pal Singh and Mr S.S. Randhawa, said unlike the ‘usual’ Saturday nights when parties can continue till 2 am, all programmes must wind up by 1 am. “There is no compromise on this time limit and it will not be relaxed for anybody,” they emphasised.

They insisted that hotel and restaurants celebrating the arrival of the New Year must have their own security arrangements in place to check any untoward incidents while a proper record of the party guests must be maintained for any later reference. 



Reservation policy flayed
Our Correspondent

Mohali, December 29
Members of the Bhartiya General Samaj held a protest against the reservation policy outside the office of the SDM here today.
Addressing a rally, the president of the samaj, Mr Ram Lubhaya, said for the past 57 years the reservation policy had not helped the poor sections of society.

The youth belonging to the general category were unemployed and many deserving persons had committed suicides. Corruption was going on in every sphere. As such there was a need to put an end to the reservation policy. The chairman of the organisation, Swami Sukrit Sharda, demanded that the 85th Amendment Act should be rejected.



Forest officer’s death mourned
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 29
Members of the Indian Forest Services (IFS) Association at a meeting today paid tributes to their colleague, Mr Shailendra Kumar, who died following a massive heart attack on December 27.

The mourners recalled the contribution made by the departed officer to the cause of forestry. Mr Shailendra, a 1970 batch officer of Punjab Cadre, remained posted in Jalandher, Ludhiana and Hoshiarpur during his service.



Special clearance drive by RPO
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
As part of its National Consumer Week celebrations, which started on Saturday, the Regional Passport Office has started a special drive for clearance of its pending cases.
Applicants who had applied for passport at the office on or before December 31, 2004 could visit the office for clearance of their cases before December 30 between 9.30 am and 12.30 pm.



Increase in snatching, robbery cases in UT
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 29
Even as the UT police failed to check organised criminal activity in the city, the overall crime rate registered a decline. Although the UT police went ga ga over its achievements statistics revealed that organised crime like snatching, burglary and robbery registered a sharp increase in 2005 as compared to that in the previous year. In fact the incidents of robbery reported to the police in 2005 were double the number of incidents reported in 2004.

The UT Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr Satish Chandra, while presenting the annual report on crime in the Sector 26 Police Lines today, claimed that the crime situation in the union territory had remained ‘‘under control’’ during 2005.

While quoting figures he said 3,839 cases had been registered this year till December 20 as against 3,919 registered in 2004.

According to the report the city had witnessed a sharp increase in the incidents of robbery as 12 cases were registered this year against a total of six in 2004, besides an increase of about 60 per cent was noticed in snatching incidents reported to the 
police during 2005 (till December 20).

Last year 80 cases were registered in this regard. Similarly the number of burglary cases registered this year was 85 per cent more than that in the previous year.

The cases of crime against women had also registered an increase of about 33 per cent this year as 30 cases of rape had been registered this year against 19 cases registered in 2004.

Though the number of road accident cases registered was higher than that in the previous year, there was a sharp decline in the number of fatal accidents this year.

As many as 127 lives were lost in road accidents this year as compared to 153 in 2004.

The local police has succeeded in solving 15 murder cases out of the total 19 that took place during the year. The incidents of murder and attempt to murder were also less than those last year.

Last year the police had registered 22 cases of murder and 19 of attempt to murder while this year 15 attempt to murder cases had been registered.

The traffic police had issued challans to as many as 94,970 traffic rules violators this year and added Rs 2.43 crore in government revenue which saw an increase of Rs 53 lakh this year.

The report claimed that the conviction rate in 2005 had increased to 73.1 per cent with 1,277 convictions as against 472 during the previous year.

The IGP informed that 222 new recruits had been inducted in the force this year besides 115 police officers were promoted this year.

The IGP stated that in 2006 the force would make efforts to make all police stations computerised and make the police accessible though Internet.

He added that the police would work in order to install cameras on roads to keep an eye on traffic-rule violators to reduce the accident rate.

The IGP also said a contingent of the UT police would be sent for military training to tackle the terrorist threats.



Mobile phone snatchers nabbed
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 29
Taking prompt action, the UT police arrested two persons, late last night, hours after they allegedly snatched a mobile phone from a cyclist in the city.
Giving details, sources in the police said Mr Ajit Pal Singh of Kansal village lodged a complaint alleging that his mobile phone was snatched by two motorcyclists near the Sector 23 and 24 traffic lights point, last evening. He was on a bicycle when the incident occurred. They were identified as Abdul Karim and Sajjad Malik of New Mustafabad in Delhi.



Rs 3 lakh stolen from scooter
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 29
Cash totalling Rs 3 lakh was stolen from the glove box of a scooter parked in Sector 9 this afternoon. The victim, Mr Sohan Lal, had brought this money to buy an autorickshaw, and had gone to Partap Autos to see the three wheeler when the theft took place.

The police said Mr Sohan Lal, a resident of Mauli Jagran, had sold off some property in Zirakpur, for Rs 3.27 lakh. He received a cheque, which he got encashed from HDFC Bank, Zirakpur, and came here with his friend Gulshan, to see the three wheeler.

The duo came out of the showroom in a few minutes, only to realise that the glove compartment was broken and the cash was missing.



Two arrested for forgery
Our Correspondent

Mohali, December 29
Two persons were arrested by the police on charges of cheating and forgery.
According to the police, the arrested persons are Jai Kiran Pal and his wife, Meera Kumari, residents of Raili village under Panchkula district. They were produced in a Kharar court and remanded in police custody for one day.

Mr Ashok Kumar, brother of Meera Kumari, had complained to the police that his sister along with her husband had tried to sell his plot at Nayagaon without his consent. They had even allegedly received Rs 1 lakh as earnest money for the plot from the buyer. Mr Ashok Kumar and his sister owned a small plot each at Nayagaon.

The police had registered a case under Sections 420, 468 and 471 of the IPC in this regard.



Girl sets herself on fire

Chandigarh, December 29
Frustrated at being harassed by her younger brother for food, a 16-year-old girl allegedly set herself on fire at her Daria village residence, this evening. The police said she had suffered 75 per cent burn injuries.

Sources said Kavita, alias Baby, was asked by her brother to cook food for him. However, she refused. Later, fed up with the demand, she allegedly set herself on fire. Hearing her cries, the neighbours gathered at their house and informed the police. The police control room vehicle took her to the GMCH-32, where the doctors stated that her condition was serious. Her father, Mr Jagat Ram, a private driver, was not at home and her mother died years ago. No statement of the victim has been recorded so far. — OC



Punjab introduces farm-bred turkey at
department store
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
The Animal Husbandry Department, Punjab, is going all out to promote turkey farming and market it as an exotic alternative to chicken.
The Secretary, Animal Husbandry, Mr D S Bains today introduced turkey at M G Super Market, a departmental store in the city.

Claiming that turkey meat was a healthier alternative to chicken and duck meat (it has low fat and cholesterol and high protein), Mr Bains said turkey farming was a more lucrative business for the Punjab farmer.

He said turkey farming was introduced in Punjab two years ago, and as many as 350 small and marginal farmers in Ropar, Fatehgarh Sahib, Sangrur, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Faridkot, Gurdaspur, Kotkapura and Patiala have taken up this avocation. “As against 3,200 turkeys in 2003, the farmers have reared 6,000 birds till date,” he said.

A turkey farmer from Dera Jagadhri village in Patiala, Jagdeep Singh, said he began turkey farming with 10 birds two years ago, and now had 40 birds. “Each bird will yield a profit of Rs 300. So I hope to make a profit of Rs 12,000 with my 40 birds,” he said.

The Director, Animal Husbandry, Dr Baljit Singh, said the department was providing training to farmers in the state, so that they could take up turkey farming in a big way. “We get the birds from the Central Avian Research Institute, Izzatnagar, and seven-week-old chicks are supplied to farmers.

Within six months the birds are ready for meat. While males weigh 8 kg to 9 kg, the female turkey is 5 kg in weight,” he said.

Officials say now that farming has picked up, they are concentrating on marketing the produce. “We have tied up with departmental stores and hotels in Chandigarh, and are in the process of tying up with eateries and departmental stores in Delhi.

Since turkey is a staple delicacy during Christmas and Thanksgiving, we hope to create a good market for the bird meat,” added Mr Bains.

On this occasion, Mr Nikhil Mittal of MG Super Market, had prepared an array of turkey delicacies to show how to roast and cook it.



Bank gives personal loans of 75 lakh

Panchkula, December 29
The State Bank of Patiala, (main branch), Kalka, today extended loans worth Rs 75 lakh under the personal loans segment.
Mr S.C. Dhall, Senior Manager of the bank said the bank had also adopted one self-help group, taking the number of self-help groups to five. “The bank is giving priority in extending loans to women. As against a 5 per cent national target fixed for extending loans to women, our bank is extending 29 per cent to women ,” he said. TNS


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