C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Bansal sworn in as Minister of State
Tribune News Service

Celebrations at Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal's residence in Sector 28, Chandigarh, following his swearing in as Minister of State for Finance
Celebrations at Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal's residence in Sector 28, Chandigarh, following his swearing in as Minister of State for Finance.
— A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh, January 29
Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, the local Member of Parliament, was sworn in as the Minister of State for Finance. He was administered the oath of office by Dr A.P.J Abdul Kalam, the President of India, at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in Delhi today.

After Jagannath Kaushal (1980-1985) in the Congress government and Mr Harmohan Dhawan(1989-91) in the Chandrasekhar government, Mr Bansal becomes the third MP from the city to hold a portfolio of a Ministry. Mr Jagannath was Law Minister while Mr Dhawan was the Minister of State for Civil Aviation.

It was celebrations time at the residence of Mr Bansal in Sector 28 where hundreds of party workers gathered in the afternoon after getting the news. Crackers were burst and supporters danced to the 'dhol' beats.

Mr Harmohan Dhawan, a former member of Parliament and president of the Chandigarh Vikas Manch, called up Mr Bansal and congratulated him today afternoon. The development is interesting because till yesterday, the CVM was asking for resignation of Mr Bansal after his name figured in the alleged pay-off to the Golf Club out of the MPLAD. "He should be given a chance for the development of the city", Mr Dhawan said.

The Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee has also congratulated Mr Bansal and thanked Mrs Sonia Gandhi for inducting him in the Ministry.

Mr Surinder Singh, Mayor, Mr Rampal Sharma, president of INTUC, Mrs Lalit Joshi and Mrs Anu Chatrath, former Mayors and Pradeep Chhabra, a former Senior Deputy Mayor, besides other senior party leaders, were present on the occasion.

The appointment is, in fact, interesting, keeping in mind that Mr Bansal had resigned a day before yesterday from the Ethics Committee probing MPs conduct in accepting money for raising questions in the Parliament followed by allegations that he paid Rs 5 lakh out of MPLAD for securing "honorary" membership of Golf Club.

The issue of alleged misuse of MPLAD had, quite expectedly, gained political overtones. Certain Congressmen were apprehensive that Mr Bansal had lost some ground in his party and was unlikely to be included in the expanded Ministry.

Reliable party sources today said that "Mr Bansal enjoyed a very good reputation for his clean image at the top. He had been given the charge of the party whip which speaks volumes about his party reputation."

In 1985, Mr Bansal was a member of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha. Mr Bansal won the Lok Sabha elections in 1991 and lost consecutively in 1996 and 1998. Mr Bansal is running his second consecutive term in the Lok Sabha at the moment.

When Mr Bansal left for Delhi today morning, he was accompanied by Mr Harmohinder Singh Lucky, deputy mayor, Mr Pawan Sharma, Mr Devinder Babla and Mr Subhash Kataria.

Talking to the Tribune, Mr Bansal said " I am glad my party high command has found me worthy of the responsibility. I will do any work handed over to me by the high command".

Mr Bansal said "I am expected to work on policies initiated under the Finance Minister where poverty alleviation programme is on the priority list. I am thankful to Mrs Sonia Gandhi, the party president, and Mr Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister, as they have shown confidence in me. I will try my best to deliver".

Replying to the question of the recent controversy where allegations were levelled against him for having given Rs 5 lakh out of the MPLAD to the Golf Club for 'honorary' membership, he said "my high command has shown the confidence in my work which should silence the criticism".

Mr Bansal has been congratulated by Traders Welfare Association, Sector 28, and Chandigarh Industrial Association.



Arrest of accused hits language barrier
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 29
Citing a language barrier, the police has failed to arrest a man accused of trafficking tribal girls from Jharkhand.

Despite the levelling of charges of trafficking against him by a volunteer of the National Domestic Workers Movement, Sister Namrata, following the recovery of a girl earlier, the police has expressed helplessness in registering an FIR against him.

The police claims that the girl cannot speak or understand Hindi and so it cannot verify the complaint and book the accused, Daod Topu.

A DDR was registered in September last after 18-year-old Phoolmani was rescued by Sister Namrata.

In spite of Sister Namrata’s pleas for the arrest of the accused, the police had failed to act.

After she nabbed the accused today, the police insisted that it would verify the complaint of trafficking from the victim before formally arresting Daod.

He had been allegedly getting poor tribal girls from Jharkhand and selling them as domestic helps in affluent homes here as well as in Chandigarh.

He was nabbed by Sister Namrata from Sector 19 in Chandigarh this afternoon.

She called the Chandigarh police and said a case of trafficking had been registered against him at the Sector 5 police post in Panchkula.

The Chandigarh police took him to the police station.

On September 17 last, Phoolmani of Dumri Jharapat in Jharkhand was rescued by Sister Namrata.

She had been bought by the accused and handed over to a family in Panchkula as domestic help.

Following harassment by her owners, she had escaped.

A tea vendor in Sector 15, Rajinder Yadav, and his wife Kunti had found her roaming aimlessly and taken her along on humanitarian grounds.

After staying with them for a month, a man from her native village in Jharkhand, Mahinder Baraik, had found her here and informed Sister Namrata.

She had informed the police before taking away the girl.

The police had then registered a DDR at the Sector 16 police post against Daod.

The girl was now employed with a family in Chandigarh.

The Panchkula police today claimed that it had not registered an FIR against Daod and so it could not arrest him.

It was after much deliberation by the Chandigarh police and Sister Namrata that the Panchkula police took Daod took Daod to the Sector 16 police post.

Sister Namrata informed The Tribune that this was not the first case of trafficking that had come to light.

“We have been on the trail of Daod for some time now. He operates on a large scale. He gets poor girls from Orrissa, Bihar and Jharkhand on the pretext of getting them jobs in rich homes in Punjab, Chandigarh and Panchkula.

“Parents send their girls thinking that their meagre earnings back home will be supplemented. They are paid between Rs 5000 and Rs 7000. These girls are later sold as domestic helps,” she alleged.

Panchkula’s Superintendent of Police Balbir Singh said since the police did not understand the girl’s language and she did not understand Hindi, it could not register a case against Daod.

“The girl has told Sister Namrata that she had been bought and sold here. But we will have to investigate the case again after we have recorded her statement.

“The girl has picked up some Hindi now. We will be able to record her statement and take action,” he added.



Fire Department to upgrade facilities
Plans to spend around Rs 2 crore
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 29
The Chandigarh Fire Department is finally waking up. And it would not be wrong to say that it has taken a devastating earthquake in J&K to shake off the slumber. The realisation has finally forced the Fire Department to upgrade itself to face the natural disasters in a better way.

The fire department will spend over Rs 1 crore for purchasing equipment for rescue purposes during natural calamities. After March, the department can add another Rs 70 lakh, taking the budget up to around Rs 2 crore.

“Rs 42.30 lakhs is lying unspent. This year we have another Rs 70 lakh, after March. The department will have another Rs 70 lakh,” informed Mr H.S. Khandola, Chief Fire Officer.

One of the major disaster management expenses being undertaken is to purchase a life detector system. The equipment will cost anything between Rs 8 to14 lakh. The prize will depend on the features of the system. The equipment will be useful to detect anybody alive, if buried under debris and not visible with the naked eye. “It is important that when a disaster strikes, we save the living, and this equipment can help us do the same.”

Also on the list are two air lifting bags for lifting large debris where a crane can’t go and lift heavy concrete structures in case of a building collapse. The air bags are operated by putting these under the debri required to be moved and then inflated and lifted. The air bags will cost about Rs 12 lakh. Another addition will be an inflatable light tower, which in the case of a natural calamity or a blackout will help light an area of about 100 meters.

Air bags for people to jump in the case of an emergency from a high rise are also likely to be purchased. Apart from equipping itself better for disasters, the department is also upgrading its existing fire fighting equipment.

Making an important addition is equipment to help fight chemical hazards like road side spills of chemicals from tankers. Interestingly, the department will also get its first fire fighting suits, these suits will help the fire fighters enter the fire and douse it from a close range.

Most of the equipment will be procured from abroad.



New housing scheme for Sectors 49, 38 (West)
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 29
The Housing Board has announced new housing scheme of one and two bedroom flats in Sectors 38 (West) and 49, where the residents of the city can apply from January 31 onwards. The CHB has decided to launch a self-financing housing scheme with an aim to provide an opportunity to the residents of the city to have their own houses on competitively low rates.

Gen (retd) S.F. Rodrigues, the Governor of Punjab and the UT Administrator, will inaugurate the scheme in Sector 38 (West).

As many as 688 one-room flats for economically weaker sections, 112 two-bedroom flats and 160 one-bed room flats separately would be constructed in Sector 49 and 38 (West) to meet the requirements of different segments of society. The last date for receipt of application form along with initial deposit is March 1.

The one-room flats numbering 688 for economically weaker sections will be constructed over an area of 425.67 sq. ft each. As many as 288 such flats will be constructed in 38 (West) and 400 in Sector 49 in four storeyed buildings.

The tentative cost of these flats has been fixed at Rs 4.15 lakh, Rs 4 lakh, Rs 3.80 lakh, Rs 3.65 lakh for ground, first, second and third floor, respectively, and an initial deposit of Rs 40,000 has to be deposited with the application. The remaining 15 per cent of the cost will be payable at the time of issue of acceptance-cum-demand-letter (ACDL). The rest of the amount will have to be paid in three equated half-yearly instalments.

Similarly, 160 one-bedroom flats would also be constructed over an approximate area of 648 sq. ft each. The price of each flat will be Rs 15.90 lakh, Rs 12.90 lakh, Rs12.40 lakh and Rs 11.90 lakh for the ground, first, second and third floor flats respectively.

The price of 112 two-bedroom flats will be Rs 31.50 lakh for ground floor, Rs 26 lakh for first floor, Rs 25 lakh for second floor and Rs 24 lakh for third floor.

The board also decided to introduce a new scheme of allotment, under which five units at the ground floor and five units at first floor in one-bedroom and two-bedroom flats would be reserved for the persons willing to pay more than the fixed price of all the flats. The persons willing to accept such allotment on higher rates would be suitably accommodated.

The construction of all these flats will be completed within a period of two years. The brochures of the scheme will be made available from the branches of UTI Bank Limited and State Bank of India located at Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali and all e-sampark centres of Chandigarh Administration from January 31.



Coop society members take to streets against admn
Demand immediate draw of lots of flats
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 29
Tired at the dilly-dallying tactics of the Chandigarh Administration on the issue of the draw of lots, members of the Universal Cooperative House Building Society, Sector 48, today took to streets and threatened to start a relay fast.

Raising slogans against the administration, scores of the substitute members gathered at the society site in Sector 48 and demanded immediate draw of lots of the flats, which had been held up on account of administrative apathy since June 2004.

It may be recalled that hundreds of substitute members were at the receiving end of the administration in the absence of a substitution policy. This was despite the fact that they had paid all installments, including the cost of land to the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB). When the CHB had accepted the land cost from substitute members, there was no logic in not accepting ownership rights of these members, a society office-bearer, asserted.

At least a dozen house building societies were at the "draw stage" but in the absence of the substitution policy, the draws cannot be held. Hundreds of the completed dwelling units were awaiting allotment.

The administration was again urged to allow the draw of lots for these societies in the public interest without levying any charges as the members had already paid all dues. Hundreds of substitute members were at their wits' end on the issue of the ownership rights the dwelling units.

The substitute members had been allowed by the societies by following proper procedure, the member claimed. Even the Supreme Court had ruled that the cooperative society was an autonomous body in its internal functioning, he added.

Calling upon the administration to come out with the substitution policy at the earliest, the meeting felt that hundreds of the members, who had raised loans from the banks and the financial institutions, suffered on two counts.

One, even after paying all dues, including penalties in certain cases, the substitute members were not in possession of the flats despite the completion of the construction. Two, a majority of the substitute members were living in rented accommodation putting them to financial loss.



SAD joins farmers to oppose Zirakpur urban estate
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, January 29
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has declared that it will oppose the proposed Zirakpur urban estate. The ultra-modern urban estate is proposed to be developed by PUDA to give fillip to the planned development in Chandigarh’s periphery. The party promised “whole-hearted” support to the farmers of the Singhpura, Ramgarh Bhudda and Nagla villages.

Meanwhile, the farmers of the three villages and the surrounding areas are set to intensify the agitation against the acquisition of their land by holding a massive rally at Singhpura village on February 7. Similarly, the elected representatives of the area have again urged the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to intervene and stop the “forcible” acquisition of the land by PUDA.

Supporting the villager, the local MLA and SAD general secretary, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, said here today, “The acquisition for the urban estate is a gross injustice to the residents and my party is with the farmers against the government’s decision”.

With elections to the state Assembly nearly a year away, The MLA’s reaction was expected. The run-up to the elections is likely to witness the politicians, cutting across the party lines, championing the people’s cause.

The authority has already issued notices under Sections 4, 6 and 9 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, for the acquisition of about 200 acres in the first phase for the creation of a state-of-the-art urban estate on the strategic Chandigarh-Ambala highway. The process was set in motion in 2004.

However, soon after the farmers opposed the move alleging that a majority of them were small and marginal farmers and PUDA was bent upon uprooting them. Another reason for the farmers’ opposition was that the compensation for the acquired land was “too less” and PUDA was adopting a “pick-and-choose” policy by exempting lands of certain influential persons, Jagjit Singh Jaggi, coordinator for the villagers, alleged.

Even the Zirakpur master plan clearly showed the proposed urban estate area within the Nagar Panchayat limits. Besides, the acquisition by PUDA is in violation of the Punjab New Capital Periphery Act, 1952, he added.

It is being argued that with construction activity in the town is bursting at seams, the inclusion of the three villages in the Nagar Panchayat was a matter of time. If the villages are included in the Nagar Panchayat, the private builders would step in to purchase the land at high prices. The anticipation of higher prices for the land was fueling the farmers’ protests, sources said.

Mr Narinder Sharma, president of the Nagar Panchayat, was also of the opinion that the government should refrain from carving an urban estate as the private builders were competent to develop the area through residential and commercial projects.

On the other hand, officials highlighted that the haphazard growth had assumed alarming proportions in the township creating infrastructural problems. The modern urban estate would cater to the housing needs of the vast population as there is hardly any scope for the expansion of the available space in the tricity. Similarly, basic amenities, which were in a state of drift in the township now, would be taken care of by the urban estate, it is argued.



Passing Thru

Mr R.S. Prasad, Managing Director, SSR Trexim (India) Pvt. Ltd.
Mr R.S. Prasad, Managing Director, SSR Trexim (India) Pvt. Ltd.

What brings you to Chandigarh?

I am here for the inauguration of Lauret Deergah showroom, which showcases our exclusive bathroom products. The core idea behind Lauret Deergarh is to provide an interactive platform to discerning customers who are looking for solutions for their bathrooms and also help them learn more about the functionality and maintenance aspects of our range of products. The overall purpose is to go beyond selling products.

Why is there so much emphasis on bathroom?

Bathroom is one’s personal sanctum, but it has remained the most neglected part of the house and acknowledged for its utility only. Now there is a change in the trend, leading to a demand for aesthetics in the bathroom, combining the best of luxury with convenient features and everyday functionality. A good bathroom may cost anything between Rs 1.50 lakh to Rs 7- 8 lakh, depending upon one’s budget and requirements.

What are your expansion plans in this region?

We already have nine Lauret Deergahs in the country, including the one in Chandigarh. We plan to set up three more in Punjab by June 2006, and add another three by December 2006.

— By Ruchika M. Khanna



Indian women no longer weaker sex, says US expert
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 29
Having authored more than 50 books on a broad spectrum of information technology, this management consultant has also been managing the affairs of the youth, under privileged and the needy.

Living up to the title of being a true Rotarian back at Arkansas, USA, Larry Long certainly has plans for India as well.

Leading the Rotary's Group Study Exchange (GSE) team, Larry Long and other team members were today given a send-off by Rotarians of the local Rotary Clubs.

The team which arrived in India on January 3 for a six-week tour had already visited Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttranchal and Uttar Pradesh.

Talking about his varied experiences during the stay in India, Mr Long said the visit provided an insight into the rich cultural heritage of India in addition to an intimate access to the functioning of various institutions.

He further informed that the GSE had gained a unique perspective about India through this visit.

Also present were James Smith, Senior Vice-President, Bank of Arkansas, Angie Dowell, a teacher and Ph D scholar and Jake Lambert, co-owner of a property acquisition and management company.

Angie Dowell who works as a teacher of fashion merchandising and women studies at Pittsburg State University and is currently pursuing her Ph D in American Studies, said an interaction with the women in India made her realise that they were no longer the weaker sex and enjoyed various positions of importance and responsibility.

Angie Dowell also visited different fashion institutes in the city.

Jake Lambart who had also met a number of real estate developers in the country expressed a desire to enter into a business deal with the estate developers in his consequent visits to India.

Meanwhile, Larry Long emphasised on the building of synergistic relationships between India and the US. He added that the Rotary Club, US, which was already making medical supplies to a number of countries across the world would be keen to strengthen it further in India and also supply medical equipment and generate more funds.

Each member of the GSE team stayed with the families of Rotarians. The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International pays for the round-trip airfare and the Rotary Club members in the host country provide hospitality and local travel.



Protest march by village evacuees
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 29
The evacuees of the UT villages today took out a procession to protest against the indifference of the Chandigarh Administration to comply with its own decision of 2003 to rehabilitate the displaced villagers.

To raise their voice, the villagers started their protest from Sector 38 gurdwara and went up to the Baba Farid Majar in Sector 63. Mr H.S. Biling, general secretary of the Welfare Society of Land Lords of all 50 villages of UT Capital Project, said the villagers would intensify their agitation if their demand was not met.



7 hurt as truck overturns
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, January 29
At least seven persons sustained injuries when the truck they were travelling in turned turtle near Kalagram on the Chandigarh-Panchkula road here this evening. The injured were rushed to the Sector 16 General Hospital.

According to the police sources, a truck on its way to Panchkula overturned, when its driver lost control over the vehicle in a bid to save a stray animal. The vehicle swerved, when the driver suddenly applied the brake and the vehicle overturned.

The injured were identified as Vinod, Phool Yadav, Dinesh Kumar, Pawan, Jawahar, Ramesh and Chajju Ram. Ramesh is reported to have sustained serious injuries. However, his condition was stated to be stable. No case has been registered.



BVP members urged to serve the poor

Chandigarh, January 29
Over 100 members of the Modern Housing Complex unit of the Bharat Vikas Parishad (BVP) attended the general body meeting here today.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr ID Ojha, All-India Secretary-General of the BVP, urged the people to channelise their energies to serve the poor and downtrodden sections of the society.

Mr Ajay Dutta, Zonal Secretary of the Punjab unit of BVP, also exhorted BVP volunteers to serve the country. The speakers on the occasion included Dr K.L. Passi, national Vice-President, and Ms Geeta Tandon, President of the Modern Housing Complex unit. TNS



Human Rights Watch organises seminar
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 29
The VII annual seminar of the All India Human Rights Watch (AIHRW) was organised here today. Justice N.C. Jain, Chairperson, Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC), was the chief guest.

Justice R.L. Anand, member, PSHRC, was the presiding officer while Mr A.P. Bhatnagar, Adviser, Jail Department, Punjab, was the guest of honour.

The general secretary of the organisation, Mr M.M. Chopra, read out the annual report of the AIHRW. Mr Tarsem Singh and Mr Anil Kaushik, president and chairman, respectively, of the AIHRW, also spoke on the occasion.



Homage paid to great saint
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 29
Baba Kundan Singh (N) International Charitable Trust organised a three-day religious programme that ended today at the Gurdwara Singh Sabha Phase-4. After bhog of Akhand Path, Gurmat discourses and Kirtan programmes were held. A large number of devotees paid homage to the great saint who left for heavenly abode in 2002. He was a great reformer, social worker and hard disciple of Guru Granth Sahib.

Mr Attar Singh, president of the trust was honoured by the Sikh sangat who came all the way from Amritsar, Delhi, Ludhiana, Nanaksar, Moga, Mukatsar. Dr Anmol Rattan Sidhu, Dr Parvinder Singh and many dignitaries were honoured.



Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 29
Mr Paramdeep Singh Bhabbat, an employee of the Punjab Government and a social worker, was recently honoured at the Republic Day function held in Patiala. The recipient of the award is the founder-President of the Disabled Persons Welfare Organisation, Punjab. Earlier, he was honoured with a state award by the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.



Two cars stolen
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, January 29
Two cars were stolen from the city in the past 24 hours.

Two youngsters snatched a purse from a woman.

Mr Sawinder Mandhora of Modern Housing Complex, Mani Majra, lodged a complaint with the police that his car (CH-03-U-1562) was stolen from his house yesterday.

Mr V.K. Sharma of Sector 38 (West) reported to the police that his car (CH-01-N-9350) was stolen from the Sector 17 ISBT yesterday.

Two separate cases of theft were registered.

Purse snatched

Ms Mona Seth of Sector 44 filed a complaint that two unidentified scooter-borne youngsters snatched her purse from near the road separating Sectors 32 and 33 on January 26.

The purse was containing two mobile phones, Rs 1,500 and her driving licence. A case was registered yesterday.

Petrol theft

Mr Sanjiv Sharma of Sector 23 reported to the police that Aman Singh of Moga and Amarinder Singh of Bathinda were caught red-handed while they were stealing petrol from his car.

The police arrested and booked the duo.

Drunken driving

The police arrested Sunder Lal of Nangal Kalan village in Himachal Pradesh from Daria village here for allegedly driving his truck under the influence of liquor yesterday.

The police impounded his truck after registering a case.



Girl caught stealing dies
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, January 29
A minor girl was today caught red-handed while stealing mechanical equipment worth Rs 20,000 from a factory in Industrial Area.

Sources in the Industrial Area police station said Mr Subash Dogra of plot number 181/15, Phase I, Industrial Area in his complaint alleged that he caught the girl while stealing dies.

The accused sneaked into his factory and tried to make away with the equipment, he added. The accused, a 15-year-old girl belongs to colony No 4. She was produced before a Duty Magistrate and sent to Nari Niketan till February 11.



2 arrested for shoplifting
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, January 29
The UT police’s crime branch today arrested two persons and claimed to have recovered four stolen DVD players from their possession.

Acting on a tip off, a team of the crime branch arrested Sanjay alias Suraj of Sohana village and a Bassi Pathana-based junk dealer, Sunil Kumar alias Sonu. The accused told the police they had struck in M/s Rimpy Enterprises in Burail village in November last year.

Mr Harbhajan Singh, the owner of the shop in his complaint had alleged that as many as 12 DVD players and two mobile phones were stolen.

The accused were produced before a local court, which remanded Sunil Kumar to judicial custody while Sanjay was remanded to two days of police custody. The police said more recoveries were expected from the accused.


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