C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


UT has fresh look at building bylaws
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 11
The Chandigarh Administration is having a fresh look at building bylaws and architectural innovations with a view to accommodating requirements of time and making other improvements for the benefit of residents.

The UT Administrator’s sub-group on “Building Bylaws” has underlined the need for easier accessibility of information concerning buildings bylaws and simplification of procedures for the building plans.

It is felt that the public want an easier mode of information regarding their building plans which at present are subject to a lot of procedural wrangling.

The sub-group has recommended that notification and related information on building plans should be made easily available to the public, both in the printed and electronic format (through the Internet).

The Administration has given enough indication that official delays will be cut in the process of sanctioning of building plans and for simplifying procedures “which at present involve different offices and authorities and often lead to avoidable delays”.

A small high-powered committee is seen as an alternative to sort out problems related to bottlenecks and other procedural hardships, including getting certificates.

Certain objections to the system of “self-certification for the building plans” have been pointed out, which will be deliberated upon for possible amendments.

It has been pointed out that varying height in the zoning of houses in the city should be rationalised and made uniform. The Administration is pondering upon whether to allow greater flexibility in approving construction material (like material used for insulation) since several advances have been made in the concerned field during recent years.

The showroom-cum-flats which have been converted into showroom-cum-offices are likely to be given greater flexibility in internal planning.

One of the biggest problem areas where the Administration plans innovations are holding a national, if necessary international, competition inviting ideas for an overview of parking in the city.

A similar competition is suggested for design ideas for housing in high-density areas, especially those catering to housing of migrant labour or transitory population.

The Administration has been asked to give a thought to cable and telecom towers installed in residential areas.

The UT will concentrate more on adopting measures for conservation of energy and water. While solar heating systems are compulsory in hospitals and hotels, it has been recommended that these be made compulsory for institutional, cultural and religious buildings, shopping malls, multiplexes and other places of mass gathering.

The scope for water harvesting will also be studied in a detail.

Reliable sources in the Administration said the process for amendments and necessary changes in certain recommendations had already started.



Making mockery of law for past 12 years
Car dealer defies consumer forum directive
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 11
Eighty-year-old technocrat Tejender Singh Grewal has been waiting for the past 12 years to get Rs 1,23,500, awarded as compensation against an Ambala-based car dealer by the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Haryana.

Barring Rs 31,000 given so far by the dealer, the reaming amount has not been paid despite the commission having almost exhausted all legal procedures granted to it under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

“Since I was staying in Patiala and the car dealer came under jurisdiction of the Chandigarh-based state commission, I had to spend money from my pocket to visit the city on every hearing.

I am anguished at not getting the benefit despite being announced by the commission,” lamented Mr Grewal.

Talking about the background of the case, the complainant told Chandigarh Tribune that he had filed the case in 1992 and the commission, after hearing the case, had held the dealer and the car manufacture responsible for delivering a defective car.

The defendant was directed to pay a refund of Rs 1,23,500 with interest at a rate of 18 per cent per annum with effect from April 6, 1990 till the date of realisation.

The defendant was directed to comply with the order within one month, failing which compliance was to be enforced under Section 27 of the Consumer Protection Act.

After the car dealer failed to refund the money, Mr Grewal filed an application for execution of the orders of the commission.

Meanwhile, the defendant approached the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.

In 1994, the national commission upheld the decision of the state commission. The dealer failed to appear during the course of hearing in the state commission.

On March 31, 1995, the state commission, through a notice, asked the defendant to show cause why action should not be taken against him.

He then issued a cheque that never reached the complainant.

After that, two cheques for Rs 35,000 each issued by him were dishonoured.

In 2001, the defendant stated in the court that payment of Rs 96,000 out the total Rs 1,25, 500 had been made and that he needed more time for making the rest of the payment.

The state commission has now issued fresh notice to the defendant. But the compensation amount is yet to reach Mr Grewal.



Lucky draw: 2 claimants for Tata Indigo
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 11
A controversy has erupted over the original claimant of Tata Indigo car which was a lucky prize during the draw of the Sector 17 shopping festval. The incident has raised questions about the authenticity of the draw which was held on November 27.

Apart from a parking contractor, Davinder Singh, who was announced the winner of the car, the in charge of the Sector 17 police post, SI Charanjeet Singh, has claimed that the coupon against which the prize was announced had been stolen from his car. As a result, the Business Promotion Council (BPC) has refused to release the prize to the original claimant.

Questions which remain unanswered

  • Did the BPC give complimentary coupons to the police?
  • Under which compulsion did the SI give the coupon to the parking contractor?
  • If the coupon was given wilfully, what was the mutual agreement between the two?
  • Where is the booklet from which 100 coupons had been given free to the police?
  • If the contractor claims of having made the purchase against which the coupon was issued, what is the authenticity of the claim made by the SI?


The SI claimed that he and the contractor had reached a compromise that the prize would be equally shared.

Alleging that the BPC was helping the SI by not releasing the car, the contractor in a written complaint to the Senior Superintendent of Police, Chandigarh, has stated that he was being threatened to part with half of the car prize, failing which a false case would be registered against him. However, the SI said the coupon No 384124 had been stolen from his car.

The booklet containing the series of the coupon had been issued in the name of Kapsons.

The contractor in his complaint has further alleged that the owner of the shop had issued around 100 complimentary coupons to the police and it was against the rules. Mr Darpan Kapoor of Kapsons could not be contacted for comments.

“The coupons can only be issued against purchases amounts made at the specific shop. This deprives thousands of genuine buyers of winning a prize and such coupons cannot be legally put in the drop boxes,” said a shopkeeper.

As per the procedure, a counterfoil has to be kept by a buyer so that he can claim the prize, if he or she is lucky. This means that the beholder of the coupon had put one part of it in the drop box. And when the results of the draw were announced on November 27 by the UT Administrator, Davinder Singh produced the counterfoil.

Meanwhile, the SI wrote to the BPC about his coupon being stolen. The latter withheld the prize item. Mr Neeraj of Sindhi Sweets, who is the governing council of the BPC, told The Tribune that for the past many days efforts were being made to workout a compromise between the two. The issue would be decided in the next meeting of the BPC, scheduled for tomorrow, he added.



Sample papers give way to online solutions
Payal Pruthi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 11
School students in the city have graduated from sample papers to online solutions. From simple self-evaluation tests to multi-level testing and practice, ideal solutions, extra inputs to crack, surprise questions and mock tests to stress busting exercises, the websites they visit offer them everything a good teacher does.

Take eGurucool CBSE Online Programme for example.

The portal offers one-stop total preparation by bringing together the power of the Internet and inputs of some of the best academic brains in the country. The programme boasts of building up a student’s strength in areas of knowledge, speed and the ability to write precise and correct answers.

With board exams round the corner, more and more students are logging on to websites like www.cbseguess.com, www.resultwala.com and the school zone on Sify Education. The cbseguess.com offers CBSE, India guess papers, CBSE tutor service in India, CBSE study material and CBSE board question papers.

“Most of the sites are free and more credible than books of private publishers,” said Rahul, a Class X student at St John’s. For Ashish, the sites offer a break from poorly printed and dull sample papers. “I enjoy revision on these sites as there is no problem of misprinting or wrongly numbered pages,” he added.

Schoolresult.com has separate sections for very important and important questions. It hosts complete study material for the Class X board exams and gives tips for choosing the right career.

This is certainly better as we can vote, contribute, suggest and demand, according to our requirement. Customised education counselling by Bejan Daruwala, too, are interesting,” admitted Richa, a student of Class XII.

However, some of the teachers and school principals feel that there is no substitute for thorough and regular studies as the material is just packaged better to lure students.



Rescuing those from jaws of tragedy across the world
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 11
“Everyone can be great because everyone can serve,” is the one mantra that motivates Navneet Narula, a city lad based in the USA, to pack his bags and travel across the globe and work as a volunteer at places where natural disasters have left grim human tragedy in their wake.

After having spent over three months at the Andaman and Nicobar Islands following Tsunami, Navneet rushed to New Orleans where Katrina had struck.

“And now I am stopping over on my way back from J& K where we were working for earthquake victims,” said Navneet during an interview with The Tribune.

“When a tragedy occurs a lot of help pours in immediately after the incident. But as time passes the steam is lost and the victims are left to fend for themselves with the burdensome work of reconstructing not just their homes and hearths but also their normal lives. I went to J&K at that stage and found that while the spirits of the victims remained unbroken there was a lot of help that they still needed,” he says.

“Compensation in monetary terms is not all. There is a lot of psychological assistance that the victims need, especially the children.

The orphans need families and someone will have to take care of their education. In fact, when one reaches there one does not know where to begin. There is so much to be done,” says Navneet.

“And do you know what surprised me the most? The realisation as to how much one person can do. When we see such tragedies being reported on TV screens we feel moved but then we think we cannot do anything alone. It’s not true. Every single hand can help. Every idea can work. Just get up and go where you think you are needed, is what I tell people now,” relates Navneet.

This is also how it all started in Navneet’s life. As TV screens flashed images of the destruction caused by Tsunami Navneet associated with the UNITED SIKHS in the USA just could not sit back and watch.

“I thought I had to do something. And within a week I was on a boat with all that I could gather from my friends on my way to the Great Nicobar Island.

I reached there first and soon my friends from the UNITED SIKHS followed with more help. I had gone there for only two weeks but I ended up spending over three months.”

When Katrina struck New Orleans, Navneet, by now Director of the Humanitarian and Relief work of the organisation, reached with his teams and adopted 17 shelters.

“We organised langars for them, celebrated birthdays of the orphaned children and did all that we could, to help the victims rebuild their lives. It was a small effort but very satisfying,” he says.

A student of the Yadavindra Public School, Mohali, Navneet left for the USA nine years ago and is now working as a Senior Management Consultant with a firm in Atlanta, runs his own tennis academy and also has a real estate business there. “God has been very kind to me and this is my way of thanking him.

Also, over the years I realised that we are here for a purpose, not just live in our comfort zones. If I am able to change for the better the life of even a single person, I think my job in life is done,” says Navneet. 



Paying too heavy a price for justice
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 11
Life’s been a tale of misery and suffering for Mansa-resident Bant Singh, a farm labourer, who dared to raise his voice against the rapists of his daughter.

The nightmare that began way back in 2000 continues and misfortune has followed him everywhere he has gone.

Today, lying in the intensive care unit of the PGIMER, Bant Singh may be just one of the many critical patients occupying the beds. However, his gory journey to the hospital bed is an unbelievable tale of torture and revenge, one in which justice seems a casualty.

As he tries to come to terms with an amputation that has cost him both his arms and a leg, a bigger ordeal of living through the rest of his life and fending for himself stares back at him.

Trouble for Bant Singh, a resident of Burj Jhajjar village of Mansa, began when his daughter was gangraped by four local boys from a handful of the village’s powerful families.

Unable to get justice from the panchayat, he moved court which sentenced three of the four culprits to life imprisonment in 2003, according to Mr Sukhdarshan Nat, president of the Democratic Employees Front, Punjab, who arranged for his treatment.

“Following the pronouncement of punishment, the families of the accused threatened and finally attacked Bant Singh to get even with him. He was admitted to hospital and a police case was also registered against the attackers.

In December 2005, he was attacked yet again by the same people but was saved by the members of his community. The last attack on January 5 this year with swords and sickles, however, proved to be dangerous for him,” Mr Nat explains.

Bant Singh was admitted to the Rajindra Government Hospital in Patiala for treatment. With gangerine setting in, he was referred to the PGI on January 8 where he was operated upon.

“While two arms and a leg have already been amputated, the doctors attending to him maintained that gangerine had set in in his other leg as well and they would have to amputate it as well. The man is miserable and worried about his and his family’s fate,” Mr Nat said.

His wife, Harbans Kaur, can hardly mumble a few words. So weighed down is she with all the problems that have befallen the family in the last few years that she chooses to just nod her head to any query.

“He paid for being outspoken. The courage to speak out came from the conviction that truth will prevail. However, we have been at the receiving end all through. All I can ask for is justice and registration of cases of attempt to murder against all those who have reduced us to this state,” she mutters as she waits outside the ward, in the corridor.

At present, a number of organisations, including the Mazdoor Mukti Morcha, the All India Centre for Trade Union, the CPI, the PGI Nursing Welfare Association and the Democratic Employees Front, have pooled in their resources to look after him.

They also plan to approach the Punjab Chief Minister and the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president to extend some kind of help to the patient.



Admn raps Mayor for remarks on MC grants
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 11
The Chandigarh Administration today came down heavily on the city Mayor for making “factually incorrect” statements about devolution of grants to the Municipal Corporation during a seminar held at the CRRID yesterday.

In an official press note, the administration said the Mayor seemed unaware of the provisions of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission and the factual position regarding devolution of grants to the corporation as recommended by the second Delhi Finance Commission.

The administration was implementing the recommendations of the Finance Commission, of which the Mayor was not having adequate knowledge, it claimed.

The city, with less than one million population as per 2001 census, had been included for assistance under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission of the Government of India under the category of other cities.

The mission had been launched by the government for integrated development of basic services for urban poor, providing improved housing, water supply, sanitation and ensuring delivery through convergence of other already existing universal services of the Government for Education, Health and Social Security.

The Municipal Corporation prepared a project on tertiary water treatment seeking assistance of Rs 35 crore from the Government of India.

At a meeting chaired by the Adviser to the Administrator, the MC and the CHB were asked to prepare projects on integrated development of slums projects convergence of health, education and social security schemes, besides others, for the urban poor.

The projects were eligible for assistance up to 80 per cent of the project cost and the remaining 20 per cent were to come from the implementing agency.

The Chandigarh Administration was levying 6 per cent stamp duty. The citizen’s participation was ensured through the Advisory Council of the Administrator.

Some of the optional reforms had also been implemented in the Union Territory like amendment to Rent Control Laws, implementation of the Right to Information Act, revision of bylaws to streamline the approval of projects for construction of buildings, besides others.

Under the 2nd Delhi Finance Commission recommendation, 17 per cent of the tax revenues should be passed on to the Municipal Corporation.

Therefore, the Chandigarh Administration made provision of Rs 94.22 crore in the current year, which was 17 per cent of the tax revenue for 2004-05.

In addition to this, Rs 7.03 crore was also allocated for payment of streetlight bills as mandated in the recommendation of the Finance Commission.

Therefore, a total grant of Rs 101.25 crore, which was more than 17 per cent of the tax revenue for 2004-05, had been given to the Municipal Corporation.



New York museum to exhibit Nek Chand’s sculptures
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 11
As many as 29 sculptures created by city-based Nek Chand will be on display at the prestigious American Folk Art Museum, New York, for a six-month period from April this year.

Giving this information here, Mr Tony Rajer, trustee, Nek Chand Foundation, said the partially-damaged sculptures had been recently restored and were originally part of the collection gifted by the Indian Government to the Washington DC-based National Children's Museum.

After the museum closed due to some unavoidable reasons, the sculptures were accepted by the American Folk Art Museum. However, many of the sculptures were broken and had to be restored.

The restoration was done by a team headed by Mr Rajer and it took over three months to complete the task. Highly satisfied with finished work, the American Folk Art Museum, New York, has decided to hold a special display of the items.

"Christened Nek Chand's Concrete Kingdom, the exhibition will open on April 3," Mr Rajer said.

He also said that a group of 20 students, many of them from the University of Wisconsin, had been putting up at the Rock Garden, here, to study the creations of Nek Chand and help in restoration of the partially dilapidated sculptures and structures. Nek Chand was also present at the press meet.



Agents flay remarks by Ramoowalia
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 11
Officials of the Recruiting Agent Association of Northern India (RAANI) and the North India Overseas Recruitment Association today condemned the statements by Mr B.S. Ramoowalia, president of the Lok Bhalai Party, to a private TV Channel regarding registered agents and the issue of overseas recruitment and people duped of money in the process.

A press statement issued by the RAANI stated that registered recruiting agents were sending lakhs of people every year to Gulf countries for employment. Because of the irresponsible behaviour of some agents, all agents could not be condemned.



Land worth crores to be got vacated
Our Correspondent

Mohali, January 11
Land worth crores of rupees, which had been encroached upon by slum dewellers in parts of the town here, will soon be got vacated by the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA).

More than six acres of prime land hand been encroached upon by slum dwellers in the residential and industrial areas. While about 4.5 acres had been encroached upon in an area adjoining Sector 48-C, about two acres had been encroached upon in the industrial area near the upcoming Quark city. About 1000 jhuggis had come up at both these places.

A meeting to chalk out modalities in connection with the demolition drive to be carried out and the rehabilitation plan would be held on January 17 under the chairmanship of the Additional Chief Administrator (PUDA), Mr Yashvir Mahajan.

Among others who would be attending the meeting would be the Senior Town Planner and Superintending Engineer of PUDA, the DTP, the Land Acquisition Collector and divisional engineers concerned.

It is learnt that slum dwellers would be rehabilitated in Sector 65-A, a piece of land falling near Jagatpura village which has been acquired by PUDA. This stretch of land measuring about 7 acres is considered to be almost a wasteland by PUDA.

Slum dwellers who were uprooted from Guru Nanak Colony in Phase X after a demolition drive carried by PUDA earlier were also rehabilitated near Jagatpura village.

Even though PUDA is geared up to remove encroachments from the town, it would not be able to give relief to residents of Sector 71 here facing problems due to the “Jhotakut” Colony located on one side of the sector.

Those living in the colony had got stay orders from court. 



World War veteran may at last get his disability pension
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 11
After struggling for 55 years to get his pension, there is a ray of hope for World War-II veteran Bachan Singh. The Army finally carried out his re-survey medical board a few weeks ago to assess his scale disability, on which his pension would be based.

A resident of Khokhran village near Ropar, Bachan Singh had served with the Second Field Artillery in Libya, where he was wounded in battle by German shell. He was ultimately discharged from the Army in November, 1947, with a disability pension of Rs 15 per month.

In November, 1949, his pension was abruptly stopped and thereafter began a protracted battle for getting his dues. It was only last year that the case came to the knowledge of the Vice-Chief of Army Staff, Lieut-Gen S Pattabhiraman, who took up the case with the Artillery Records as well as the Controller of Defence Accounts (Pensions) gave him an interim relief.

Things then started moving and his re-survey medical board was held at the Western Command Hospital, Chandimandir. Though the case for re-starting his pension is in final stages, a hitch cropped up when the Medical Branch at Headquarters Western Command sent his papers to the Artillery Records without the requisite signatures.

Bachan Singh was enrolled in the Royal Indian Artillery in January, 1941. He was seriously injured in March, 1942, when the vehicle in which he was travelling came under German artillery fire. He was retained in service to due manpower requirements arising out of war, but was discharged in 1947.

Though being illiterate and unaware of provisions, he kept trying to get his pension re-started, but to no avail. Repeated appeals for re-survey medical boards, accompanied by certificates from doctors were not acceded to.

Even the service element of his pension was denied and he was forced to live a life of poverty without any support for the government.

Finally in 2001, he came to know about a similar case where a World War-II veteran, whose pension was discontinued in 1951, had been granted compensation and his disability pension re-started. Thereafter, he renewed his efforts, but was again denied his pension or a re-survey medical board on the grounds that his papers had been destroyed and that there was no documentary proof of his disability.

Though he had written several letters to the authorities concerned, copies of which were attached to his latest representation submitted last year, a communiqué from the Records instead questioned him as to why he had remained silent for the past so many years.

His appeal for justice and assistance to the Defence Minister, Director- General, Artillery, Director- General, Ceremonials, Welfare and Discipline at Army Headquarters as well as the Artillery Records did not elicit any action till the case came to the notice of the Vice-Chief.



Goods in market verandahs seized
Our Correspondent

Mohali, January 11
The anti-encroachment wing of the local Municipal Council today seized goods lying in market verandah during a drive here today. The drive was carried out in Phases VII, III B 2 and III B 1.

Area near the council office in Phase VII was cleared of encroachments though at one point employees faced resentment.

It is learnt that when the employees removed goods lying in the verandah, a shopkeeper dealing in electronic goods tried to obstruct them. The SDM, Mr M.L. Sharma, and the Executive Officer, Mr Amarjit Singh Sekhon, was intimated in this regard. Mr Sekhon soon reached the spot.

Additional council staff was also called for help.

The shopkeeper had to ultimately tender a written apology for obstructing the drive.

Goods were also seized from Phase III B 2. In Phase III B 1 persons selling fruit and other items on footpaths were removed from there. Rehris parked on the roadside were also removed. 



Don’t hike power rates, govt warned

Mohali, January 11
Condemning the proposal of the government to hike power tariff rates in the state, the Consumers Protection Forum today demanded that such a proposal be rejected so that an additional financial burden was not put on the people.

In a letter to the Punjab Chief Minister, the president of the forum said that power rates had been hiked earlier and as such another hike now was unjustified.

He said the power board had not been able to remove “kundi” connections and cut down transmission losses. People belonging to economically poor sections were being given free power while others were being made to pay heavy power bills. OC



31 gamblers held in police crackdown
Our Correspondent

Panchkula, January 11
Thirtyone persons were arrested by the Panchkula police in a special drive against gamblers in the city last night.

The police raided seven points, mostly public places, in a drive that continued till late into the night.

While 23 persons were caught indulging in gambling, the other eight were held for satta.

As per police sources, five persons were nabbed in a raid conducted on Abheypur village in Industrial Area, Phase I, and Rs 6,775 were recovered from them.

The police also arrested four persons allegedly involved in satta at Rajiv Colony with Rs 1,765.

Four more persons involved in satta were arrested in four different raids in Sector 4, 17 and Rajiv Colony.

In yet another raid, the police arrested four persons from Devi Nagar village, recovering Rs 320 from them.

Four persons were caught while indulging in gambling at public place near a liquor vend in Mansa Devi Complex.

Four more persons were caught while gambling behind the Sector 10 market and Rs 450 were recovered from them.

Four persons were arrested from the rear of the General Hospital, Sector 6, followed by the same number of arrests made from the local bus stand and two from Rajiv Colony.

All 31 accused were produced before Duty Magistrate Ajay Aggarwal, who released them on bail.


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