C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Revelry heralds New Year
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
The bitterness of cold failed to freeze the thrill as revellers left the warm comfort of their houses to chill out on the New Year eve.

Even before the clock struck nine, tearing excitement broke loose in the city as the partying pack zipped down the fast track of merriment in their jaunty jalopies into 2006.

All roads led to celebrations as wild shrieks of exhilaration, sending shivers of excitement down the spine, drowned the deafening din of honking cars on the last surviving day of the dying year. As it slipped away into oblivion boisterously, the apprehensions of dense grey clouds fogging the spirits made their final exit.

On the roads

The revellers stopped their semi limousines, decked up with cheerful balloons and gladioli, in front of the hotels and the restaurants in Sector 35 to shake, rattle and roll under sodium vapour’s dazzling yellow lights as high wattage car stereos blared out hip-hop numbers one after another.

Dazzling flames illuminated the night sky on Panjab University campus as young revellers danced away their blues around bonfires, while portable stereo blared out some of the still remembered hits.

As beads of perspiration dotted their brows, sweaty hands removed the pullovers before tying them around the waists. Even before the hands of the clock apparently kissed each other, the city was rocked by a tremor of excitement. Year 2005 went crumbling down, just as 2006 rose from its ashes, encouraging the crowd to break into frenzy.

Jackets went up in the sky and cries of “Happy New Year” filled the air as everyone greeted everyone without discrimination. “Network is busy” — that’s exactly what the residents heard as they pressed the back lit keys of their mobile sets with tired fingers for wishing near and dears.

Hooligans, too, did not miss the opportunity. In Sector 36 and in Sector 11, they tried to stop young couples cruising on their two-wheelers, but disappeared as soon as they spotted the men in khaki.

For dealing with them, the Chandigarh police had deployed a massive force all over the city. Barriers, too, had also been set up at strategic places. Police gypsies patrolled the length and breadth of the city.

As the cops dealt with the rowdy crowd in the city, some negotiated the sharp curves of life on their way uphill. Bottlenecks and traffic jams at Pinjore and Kalka were no deterrents as some meandered their way to reach Kasauli. A few rushed all the way to Shimla for heralding the big day with friends at the Mall.

Night clubs and discotheques

Back in Chandigarh, exhilarated figures, illuminated by psychedelic lights, twirled all around the polished dance floors to the thumping beats of bhangra music as synthetic smog filled the air in the Ware House, Las Vegas and Aerizzona, along with other discotheques and night clubs.

Heaven is a place on earth was the impression one got as “earth angels” in glittering minis with cuts on either sides, teamed with backless tops, descended on the dance floors oblivious of the cool winter breeze.

As cool music mixed by disc jockeys echoed against the decked up walls in some of the joints, close dancing followed. Muscular arms slipped around reed-thin waist as damsels placed their fragile hands on broad shoulders. Outside the discos, angry young men in unending queues shrieked and screamed at the security guards impatiently as they slowly tore the invitation cards before allowing them to enter.

City bars, restaurants and hotels

Partying mob with bulging pockets rushed to saloons for witnessing bar tenders all the way from Delhi setting the evening ablaze by igniting the counters after pouring invigorating red wine on the counters, excitedly.

Rocking music mixed by disc jockeys filled the air at Blue Ice, while the revellers enjoyed a concoction of fire and ice at Piccadily. Hotels were undoubtedly hot in Chandigarh. In G.K. International, they savoured Mongolian and Japanese dishes along with live music. Or tasted Luchnawi kabab and Hyderabadi Biryani at Metro-35.

For some, “mushy music” floating in hall lit by aromatic candles provided the right ambience at Elevens. Others enjoyed roof-top party at Hotel Sunbeam or sumptuous food at Khyber and Memorable Moments.

In Hotel Mountview, it was a blend of fun, music and masti under the stars. As live band played some cool foot-tapping music during Hungama 2006, the celebrating pack enjoyed an evening of great dinner, drinks and dance. At Hotel Taj, it was variety on the platter. From spectacular French dance to a five-course menu, the hotel offered it all.


Cheerful balloons fluttered in the breeze as Chandigarh Club members, along with their guests, thronged the venue to catch Hans Raj Hans live. As he crooned some of his hit numbers, even the not-so-young danced to the beats.

At Chandigarh Golf Club also, there was no stopping the crowd as the poolside adorned with balloons, and lawns made cozy with blazing bonfires, attracted the crowd. But it was the fireworks that caught their attention.

As impressive speakers blared out hit music, the crowd screamed with excitement at the Chandigarh Press Club. It was moonlight magic as the visitors savoured “sumptuous cuisines”, along with the “choicest of liquor”. Bumper tambola, besides fire, glass, Haryanvi and Kalbelia dances, were among the attractions.

Belly dancing

It was belly dancers who actually created ripples in the city. As they unveiled, unraveled and unfolded the mystique of Arabia during the Egyptian Nomad Party at Athena, the crowd enjoyed every moment of it. Even at Hotel Shivalikview’s “Jalwa”, Arabian dance sequences left the crowd applauding.



Dance contests for slum kids on New Year eve
Tribune News Service

Guest artistes dancing with slum kids during the dance competition in Sector 24, Chandigarh, on Saturday.
Guest artistes dancing with slum kids during the dance competition in Sector 24, Chandigarh, on Saturday. — Tribune photo by Pradeep Tewari

Chandigarh, December 31
While the entire city remained geared up for New Year parties and celebrations, slum kids in Chandigarh welcomed the New Year in a different way. More than 100 children from seven slum areas of Chandigarh participated in an inter-slum dance competition, organised at Government School, Sector 24, by the Theatre Age Society in association with the Desh Bhagat Group of Institutes. Present on the occasion were Dr Vimal Kalia, principal, Desh Bhagat Dental College, Mukstar, and RC Nair, Member Secretary, Punjab Human Rights Commission.

In addition to the dance competition, a solo and duet song competition was also organised in which children from Dadu Majra, Maloya, Kajheri, Nehru Colony, Janta Colony, Bapudham, Mauli Jagran, Ram Darbar, Rajiv Colony and Colony Number 4 and 5 participated.

In the inter-slum dance competition the first prize was bagged by the Navdeep Group from Bapu Dham. The winners were awarded a certificate, trophy and a cash prize of Rs 1500. The second prize was won by the Preet Club, Dadu Majra. In the duet category, Rajni and Harpreet stood first, followed by Madhuri and Balwinder. In the solo-song category, Madhuri stood first.

In addition, all children were given participation certificates.



Governor’s New Year greetings
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
The Punjab Governor and the UT Administrator, Gen S.F. Rodrigues (Retd), while extending greetings on the eve of the New Year, today reiterated his commitment to make the Union Territory an example of development, economic growth, quality of life to the people and maintain a peaceful environment, for the rest of the country.

He said “we are leaving an eventful year behind us, paving the way for progress and prosperity.” He emphasized that the Chandigarh Administration, deeply concerned with the problems of the people at the grass root level, had taken various innovative steps for bringing about a qualitative change in their lives.



Tight security in city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
A three-tier security cover was put in place by the Chandigarh police in wake of the New Year celebrations today. Police nakas were put up at 21 different places to ensure that the revellers did not cause nuisance on the roads, said a senior police official.

This year, a strong posse of policemen has been put on alert at the Aroma light point to check rowdyism. More force would be brought there as the New Year sets in.

The Deputy Commissioner and the Senior Superintendent of Police visited the Sector 17 plaza to review the security arrangements. The police is taking no chances in the wake of the threat perception after the terrorist attack at Bangalore.

Around 1000 personnel of Chandigarh police are on roads to keep the law and order under control. Cops have been deputed outside all the venues where the New Year celebrations are being held. The police officials also carried out search operation at the Sector 17 and Sector 43 bus stands and frisked the customers. A special drive would also be launched by the traffic police at 37 different locations in the city.



UT Vigilance Dept books ex- Mayor
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
In a turn of events which could cast its shadow on the election to the post of Mayor, scheduled for tomorrow, the UT Vigilance Department has booked a former Mayor, Ms Kamlesh, under various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The case has been registered following an inquiry marked by the UT Administrator after complaints of alleged financial irregularities of the Mohalla Sudhar Committee in Ram Darbar. The committee was allegedly run by the husband of the Mayor, Banarshi Dass, her relatives and supporters.

It had been alleged that the committee collected cash from the residents of Ram Darbar on the pretext of cleanliness drives.

The committee even got some matching grant from the administration. The issue rocked the general house of the Municipal Corporation when Ms Kamelsh was the Mayor in 2004. Even some of the sweepers, who had been employed by the committee for sanitation work, had also complained to the administration alleging that they were underpaid.



New Mayor assumes office today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
The Municipal Corporation of the city is all set to have a new Mayor tomorrow following in-house polling scheduled in the morning. The term of the current Mayor, Mrs Anu Chatrath, expired today. The House will also hold election to the posts of Senior Deputy Mayor and the Deputy Mayor.

The Congress-ruled corporation has a definite edge over the rest. However, it might not be a cakewalk because of new inter and intra-party equations in the House. The House has 15 Congress councillors, barring the member of Parliament, two members of the Chandigarh Vikas Manch, two from the Bharatiya Janata Party, one from Shiromani Akali Dal and nine nominated members.

A senior councillor said winning might not be all that easy in the corporation for the Congress councillors because of changed personal equations, particularly for the posts of Mayor and the Deputy Mayor. Mr Surinder Singh from the Congress faces a challenge from Mrs Kamla Sharma of the BJP and Mr Jatinder Bhatia from the CVM for the post of Mayor.

Mrs Shyama Negi of the Congress faces Mr Rajesh Gupta of the BJP for the post of the Senior Deputy Mayor. Mr Harmohinder Singh Lucky (Congress) faces a challenge from Mr Vijay Rana (CVM) for the post of Deputy Mayor.

The councillor said winning will not be easy for the Congress because of several factors. Mr Surinder Singh has faced opposition within the party for his name as the candidate for the post of the Mayor.

A Congress councillor said the possibility of the contest getting tougher for the post of the Mayor was true in case one of the two other contenders against Mr Surinder Singh withdrew from the race. There is a general unanimity over a tough contest for the post of the Deputy Mayor between Mr Lucky and Mr Rana.

The high command of the Congress is very sure of an absolute victory because Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, the local Member of Parliament, is learnt to have personally overseen the campaign during its last phase.

Another interesting development being discussed in the political circles was Mr P.C. Sanghi, a nominated councilor, coming out openly in support of the Congress. A senior councillor said: “Mr Sanghi faces opposition from a group of nominated councillors because of his provocative remarks. In case the group decided to choose a group different from his, the results could be totally different”.

“The Congress group will likely stay together because next year is the election to the new Corporation. The Congress High Command is sure of a simple straight victory going by the number of individual number of councillors. However, one cannot ignore the fact that political problems often do not have simple mathematical solutions”, the councillor added.



States not following guidelines: ICAR chief
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
The success of Watershed Management practices lies in the effective maintenance of water conservation structures with people's participation.

In an interview given to TNS, the Deputy Director-General (Natural Resource Management) of the Indian Council of Agriculture Reseach (ICAR), Dr J S Samra, said the reason why a number of water harvesting structures constructed under different schemes had become defunct was because of poor maintenance of these structures. After the agency having constructed these structures pulled out of the project, not much care was taken afterwards, he added.

He rued that though specific guidelines had been given by the ICAR, the states were not following guidelines on follow-up action for maintenance of the water conservation structures. Since these projects were handled by state departments — Forest or Agriculture , or any NGO hired by the state government to construct the project— the state government had to check the maintenance of these structures.

"Watershed associations are formed in all villages wherever the water harvesting structures are raised. When the structures are raised on private land, all members of the association (all voting members of the village) contribute 10 per cent of the project cost.This is deposited in a bank for the future maintenance of the project. In case, the structure is raised on common village land, villagers contribute 5 per cent of the project cost. We have achieved a success rate of 50- 60 per cent in schemes like Kandi project, Community Forestry project and other schemes for soil conservation. However, in cases where there was no follow-up action, water harvesting structures and check dams had become defunct because of excess silt deposition," he said.

Dr Samra said the states should device a system that was more transparent and equitable, besides a better maintenance system for a higher success rate in the watershed management schemes.

Emphasising the need for water conservation, he said though the Indo- Gangetic plains had the oldest canal, ground water was depleting rapidly. "The irrigation of fields through tubewell water helped bring about Green Revolution. The high crop production in Punjab, Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu is because of the over-exploitation of the ground water. Because of this over- exploitation, the centrifugal pumps have to be replaced with submersible pumps, which means additional imputs by farmers.



Phase IV residents highlight problems
Our Correspondent

Mohali, December 31
Residents of Phase IV here brought their problems to the notice of the Administrator, Mr Darshan Singh Sandhu, at a meeting held in Bougainvillea Garden here today.

Residents complained that there was no proper sanitation in the area. Congress grass had not been removed and certain parks were in a state of neglect. A pocket of Phase IV got flooded during the rainy season because many road gullies were blocked. In summer, residents faced shortage of water.

Water supplied was not only inadequate but even muddy. The pressure remained low and water did not reach the first floor level leading to lot of inconvenience of residents.

Mrs Manmohan Kaur, a former Municipal Councillor, said stray animals had become a big problem for residents. She said there was a pole in the middle of the road near house number 249 which had not been shifted by officials concerned despite repeated requests. Footpaths in the area needed repair. 



SMS greetings to welcome New Year
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
Isse pehle ki saal ka antim suraj ast ho,
Isse pehle ki 2005 ka calendar nasht ho,
Isse pehle ki aap khushi ke mahaul mein vyast ho
Aur isse pehle ke mobile network vyast ho,
Dua hai ke aane wala saal aapke liye zabardast ho!

With SMS being one of the best communication mantras in today’s world, each one worth his moble sat down to send their “chill” New Year greetings, a day in advance. Fearing a clogging of the network due to congestion around midnight, the last day of 2005 unfolded with the beep of an SMS on the cellphone.

Having learnt from their past experiences wherein the cell networks get jammed at midnight, most of the people began exchanging greetings a day in advance. And interestingly, most of them came up with interesting explanations on why they were sending SMS in advance: “a photo of a teddy pleading: Can I stay in your inbox until 01/ 01/ 06, so that I am the first one to wish u a Happy New Year”, and,”Gul ne gulshan se gulfam bheja hai, sitaron ne aasma se salam bheja hai, mubarak ho apko New Year hamne advance mein ye paigam bheja hai “.

Others decided to send simple greetings, with a polite explanation like, “Well as the networks may be jammed for the next two days, and messages lost in thin air, I would like to wish you a happy New Year in advance”.

Officials in various telecom companies concede that the sms traffic increases 20 to 30 times on New Year eve and on New Year day. They, however, say that they have made sufficient arrangements for the enhancement of capacity to ensure that the SMS traffic flows smoothly.

Mr Mukul Khanna, general manager (marketing), Spice Telecom, said they were all geared up to deal with any traffic flow. “On Divali, we had 1. 20 crore SMS transactions and on New Year eve, we hope to get a higher traffic, becuase of the SMS packages announced by us. With subscribers allowed 2000 Sms for just Rs 20, SMS has become very popular for exchanging greetings. We have made all provisions to ensure that the sms greetings reach on time,” he said.

Mr Deepak Gulati, CEO, Airtel, too said that this year they expected a significant increase in the number of calls and messages owing to a larger number of mobile subscribers.

“In the normal course, in Punjab itself, we handle 50 lakh SMS/MMS per day on an average . We are expecting this figure to rise manifold over New Year Eve and January 1. To cater to this traffic, we have augmented our network and have taken appropriate measures like expanding our BTS network in the past few months,” he added.



Making hay while sun doesn’t shine
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
Though fog and bad weather grounded flights in the city for most of last week and even yesterday, taxi owners at the local airport are making hay while the sun doesn’t shine!

The earnings of these taxi owners based at the city airport have shot up more than 300 per cent since the spate of bad weather began, informs Mr Iqbal Singh Randhawa, president of the Airport Taxi Union. “Earlier only about two taxis would go out at an average in a month.

However, this month the number has gone up to about 18,” informs Iqbal.

The income, he adds, has increased from about Rs 10,000 a month to about Rs 40,000. It costs about Rs 3000 for a taxi to Delhi.

This is, however, a regular feature every year when the weather goes bad and the flights get grounded.

However, with more flights having started operations from the airport this year and others planning to come in, the good times for them seem to have just begun.

Officials of Jet Airways informed that to avoid further inconvenience to passengers they arrange the taxis for the passengers who have to reach Delhi urgently at the companies’ expense. A similar procedure, informed sources, is followed by Indian Airlines.

Meanwhile, the Indian Airlines flight to and from Delhi was once again cancelled today.

The Air Deccan and Jet Airways flights, though operational, today, were late by one hour and half an hour respectively.

The morning Shatabdi from Delhi to the city was an hour late while the Sadbhavana Express from Lucknow to Kalka was more than two hours late due to bad weather today.



Rodrigues gives crutches to special children
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
The New Year eve was extra special to Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), Governor of Punjab and UT Administrator, and Ms Jean Rodrigues, as they met disadvantaged and handicapped children of Palsora and gave them crutches to facilitate their mobility.

The couple sprang a surprise on everyone in the Palsora Colony and distributed crutches to handicapped people, including children, at a brief function organised by the Society for Social Health in the community hall.

The Governor, in his brief address and interaction with the volunteers of the NGO and Handicapped people, emphasised the need for empowering this vital section of society by equipping them with various vocational skills to make them able to earn their livelihood. He said the persons suffering from different disabilities should be encouraged so that they could realise their potential and contribute to society.

Appreciating the efforts of the society for social health, General Rodrigues said these were positive signals and more collective and committed efforts were required to rehabilitate the affected people.

Exhorting the members of the NGO, General Rodrigues stressed that “we must concentrate on the education of the girlchild, especially handicapped, as her education needs usually remain neglected”. Talent must be spotted and more opportunities and support should be given to the deserving ones.



Stone laid for community centre 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, Member Parliament, today laid the foundation stone of a community centre in Sector 30-B here. Outgoing Mayor Anu Chatrath, Senior Deputy Mayor and area councillor, Pushpa Sharma, some councillors and MC officials were also present on the occasion.

The community centre is being built on an area of 3.75 kanal. It will have a hall, a room for visitors, gents and ladies toilet block, kitchen and a chowkidar room on the ground floor. There will be a built-up area of 1100 sq ft, consisting of another hall, a room, gents and ladies block, on the first floor. In addition, there will be an open terrace on the first floor and a ramp for handicapped persons, leading to the first floor.

The total cost of the project has been estimated to be Rs 23.70 lakh, out of which, Ms Pushpa Sharma, has announced a grant of Rs 16.50 lakh from her Ward Development Fund. 



Patrolling intensified
Our Correspondent

Mohali, December 31
Patrolling was stepped up by the police on New Year’s eve here today to prevent any untoward incident. Extra force from a commando batallion had been requistioned in this regard.

Patrolling was intensified near the Mohali Club in Phase XI and the PCA Club in Phase IX, apart from other places where functions were organised to welcome the New Year. The number of nakas had also been increased.



Perspectives differ on New Year
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
Each one seems to have a different perspective of New Year, as was evident from responses from a cross section of city residents and officials, during conversation with The Tribune reporters.

Mr S.K. Sandhu, the Finance Secretary of the Chandigarh Administration, says “New Year Day is only a calender definition of progress of time. In reality, every day is new. They are full of new surprises and challenges”.

Mr Sandhu says “I take each single day as a new challenge in studying proposals, making action plans and visiting the ground of action to see the best possible implementation for fruitful results with eyes on the future.”

Mr Vivek Atray, Director of Information Technology in the UT Administration, says “I take the day as an opportunity to remind myself to work hard in future by reviewing the ongoing projects and seeing areas of future growth with the possible work plan.”

Mr Anil Talwar of Talwar Jewellers, says he works hard all day and likes to party hard to unwind and relax. “My new year resolution revolves around my love for partying. I want to party more each year, he says.

Mr Deepak Gulati, CEO, Airtel (Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh), says since the New Year day is an opportunity to set new goals, I want to do things that make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate fellow human beings. God has been very gracious to me, and I want to share his kindness with others around me”.

Ms Harveen Sarao a city-based shooter says, the coming year is vital for her. She says the Commonwealth Games, will be her maiden attempt and she would like to do justice to her performance there.

She says Chandigarh has been her favourite place as she has learnt the fundamentals of shooting here. After the Commonwealth Games, the next target would be the World Cups and 2006, Doha Asian Games.



Security arrangements reviewed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
In the wake of the terrorist attack at IISc, Bangalore, the Chandigarh Police yesterday convened a series of meeting with the heads of scientific institutions in the city to review their security arrangements.

During the meetings, the authorities of the Snow and Avalanche Institute, CSIO, PEC, Panjab University, PGI, TTTI, Ordinance Cable Factory, IMTECH and other institutes were asked to work out their contingency plans in coordination with the police to pre-vent any untoward incident.

Police also carried out search operations at the Sector 17 and Sector 43-bus stands and frisked people. A special drive was also launched by the traffic police at 37 different locations in the city.



Notorious burglar held
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
The local police has arrested a notorious burglar, Dilbag Singh, alias Bagga, a resident of Kuldeep Colony in Kajheri, and recovered gold and silver jewellery worth about Rs 1 lakh from his possession.

Dilbag was arrested by a special team headed by Mr Ishwar Singh Mann, SHO of the Sector 36 police station. With his arrest, six cases of thefts have been worked out. The recovered jewellery was stolen by him from Sectors 35 and 36.

A drug addict, Bagga is also facing trials in at least a dozen cases of burglary in Chandigarh and Mohali, the police added.



Motor cycle model launched
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
Bajaj Auto today launched a motor cycle model, Discover.

The new 112-cc motor cycle comes with alloy wheels and has latest features.

Says Mr S. Sridhar, vice-president (Marketing and Sales): “We are following global norms wherein automobile companies have multiple products under each platform. The newly introduced model is an addition to the existing 125-cc Discover DTS-i.”


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