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Ban on poultry products from Maharashtra
Steps reviewed to check bird flu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 20
The Chandigarh Administration today reviewed the preparations for dealing with any possibility of bird flu in the city. Random sampling of the birds, which is in progress since November 2005, continued unabated.

The number of blood, faecal and sputum samples being taken from the avian population, both from the poultry farms and the open areas, has been increased, sources in the Administration said. However, no test has given positive result.

A meeting was held today under the chairmanship of Mr Krishna Mohan, Home Secretary, including senior officers of the department of Animal Husbandry, Forest Department, Municipal Corporation and Health Department to draft a future plan of action.

The Administration banned the entry of poultry products from Maharashtra to the city with immediate effect, taking a strong view of the recent outbreak of bird flu in the that state. A control room has been set up to reply to the queries of people regarding their apprehensions and also to respond to any call of emergency.

The Administration is working on the issue of the bird flu in close coordination with Punjab and Haryana. Punjab has already banned the entry of poultry products from Maharashtra. The authorities were already asking the poultry products’ dealers to avoid transporting the products from outside the city.

Ms Raji P. Srivastava, Director, Department of Animal Husbandry, said the Administration had set-up a control room with Dr A.V.S.Kohli, in charge Veterinary Department, as the officer in charge. Any person from the general public can dial 98140-25488 and seek information regarding apprehension about the possible occurrence of disease in the neighbourhood.

Ms Srivastava said,‘‘faecal and blood samples of the birds were being taken separately for the birds on poultry farms at Khuda Lahora, Khuda Ali Sher, Mauli Jagran and Kishangarh. The samples are sent to the Regional Veterinary Diseases Diagnostic Laboratory, Jalandhar, and even to Bhopal for final confirmation of strains of H5N1 virus, the disease causative’’.

In spite of a media blitzkrieg launched by the National Egg Coordination Committee (NECC) to plead the safety of poultry products in wake of bird flu scare, the prices of these products continued to fall in the city and its surrounding areas. Mr Krishan Lal Aggarwal of Diamond Poultry Farm, Barwala, said sale had picked up today though the prices had fallen. ‘‘The wholesale prices of eggs fell from Rs 130 to Rs 90 per 100 eggs today. The prices of live chicken dropped from Rs 18 to 10 a kg.’’, he said, while adding that there was no case of bird flu in this region.

In Chandigarh, too, the prices of poultry products continued to fall on the second day today. Dressed broiler was selling in the city at Rs 60- Rs 65 per kg.



February hottest month in past five years
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 20
For those beginning to feel the heat earlier than expected this February, no respite seems in sight yet. The month is turning out to be hottest and driest February in the past five years and lack of rain is only worsening the situation.

With sweaters sent packing early this winter by the bright sunshine and the days becoming uncomfortably warm this February, summer seems to have already set in. While the mornings and evenings have pleasantness, the afternoons are turning out to be rather uncomfortable.

The Met Office, too, has nothing positive to offer with rains unlikely in the next couple of days. The occasional cloudy sky seems only a mirage since the clouds float away without showering a drop of water on the “warm” cityscape.

Says Mr Chattar Singh Malik, Director, local Meteorological Office: “While rain is nowhere to be seen, the clouds floating in and out are responsible for the rising temperature. A cover of clouds in the sky does not allow the heat of the earth to escape. The trapped heat leads to a rise in temperature. A shower is bound to cool things down temporarily at least.”

While 23.6°C has been the lowest to which the maximum temperature has fallen this month, the minimum temperature has touched a high of 16°C already. Statistics indicate that while the minimum temperature is rising, the maximum temperature too is shooting up since the month has gone without any rain so far. This has resulted in this sudden weather change indicating early advent of the summer season.

In previous years, the lowest recorded maximum temperature was 20.6°C in 2001, while the minimum highest temperature recorded was 17°C in 2004.



Cop accused of sexual advances

Chandigarh, February 20
A woman police official of the Chandigarh Police today filed a complaint with the UT Inspector-General of Police (IGP), alleging that her senior in the force had made obscene sexual advances at her during a course of an inquiry pending against her.

The victim, an Assistant Sub-Inspector posted at the Sector 3 police station, in her complaint, alleged that Inspector J.S. Cheema had misbehaved with her by using abusive language and also tried to made sexual advances at her by calling her at odd hours for a departmental probe pending against her. When contacted, the IGP said the complaint had been forwarded to the SSP, Headquarters, Ms Vivek Gogia, for action.

Despite repeated efforts the Inspector could not be contacted. Later in the evening his family members said he was admitted to Fortis Hospital, Mohali, following a heart attack. Sources in the police said the inquiry had been entrusted to a DSP. OC



515 apply for liquor licence on last day
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 20
Approximately 515 parties have applied for liquor licence on the last day for filing applications here today under the new liquor policy announced by the Chandigarh Administration recently.

Reliable sources said that as many as 450 applicants have applied for the outlets that will sell IMFL liquor and the remaining 100-odd have applied for the country liquor shops. Interestingly, at least 80 per cent of the applicants are companies. The individual details of the applicants will be worked out later.

The city will now have a total of 215 vends which will be licensed. The number of vends selling IMFL have been increased to 150 and those selling country liquor have been increased to 65. Earlier there were a total of 78 vends in the city.

In case a shop has more than one applicant, the fate will be decided by a draw of lots. One person will be kept on the waiting list at all the spots

There was a massive rush on the last day today and the office closed door to all entrants who arrived after 5 p.m. Mr I.S. Sandhu, Additional Deputy Commissioner, said “Nearly 550 parties had applied as per our expectations showing the general approval of the new policy. Within a couple of days, the department will be able to shortlist the eligible licensee after going through the relevant paper work”.

It may be remembered that companies will be given preference over individual applicants while issuing the licence. The applicant company should have a PAN issued before March, 2005.

An applicant, whether company or an individual, can apply for more than one vends, however, he shall be allotted a maximum of four vends in total, two of country and two of IMFL. The administration plans concentration of more IMFL vends in the sectoral grid and country liquor on the borders.

The draw of lots for the final list of the allottee will be conducted on March 8, sources added.



13-yr-old girl kills self
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, February 20
A 13-year-old girl allegedly hanged herself to death under mysterious circumstances at her Dadumajra residence this evening here. The police said the reason behind the extreme step was not known. No suicide note was found.

Giving details of the incident, sources in the Sector 39 police station said the victim had been identified as Pooja, a student of Class VII at Government Senior Secondary School, Dadumajra. The suicide came to light at 7 pm.

Her father, Prabhu Dyal, told the police that Pooja, after playing with children in the neighbourhood, went to her room in the evening. No one suspected anything until they found the door locked from inside and repeated knocks at the door failed to get any response.

Suspecting that something was wrong, they tried to force open the door, but failed. Later, some one went to the roof and gained entry from there. She was found hanging from the ceiling.

They immediately took her to a doctor, who declared her “brought dead”. The police was informed about the incident.

The police shifted her body to the Sector 16 General Hospital, where a post-mortem will be performed tomorrow.



SIT on trail of Tyagi brothers
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, February 20
The Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Chandigarh Police today took Pawandeep Singh, the suspect in the sensational Sector 34 triple murder case, to Gurgoan to carry out raids at several places.

The police said the raids were aimed at tracing Tyagi brothers, two accomplices of Pawandeep, to recover the weapon and other articles stolen by the assailants from Group Captain (retired) T.P. Singh’s Sector 34 residence on the night of the murder.

The retired Group Captain, his wife Shibani and sister Ajit Kaur were allegedly killed by Pawandeep Singh, and Tyagi brothers.

The raiding team was led by Station House Officer Ram Gopal of Sector 34. Pawandeep Singh was taken to various hideouts in Gurgoan. The raids were focused on the recovery of two mobile phones of the slain officer, jewellery and some other articles.

The police parties will also carry out raids at places that Anil Tyagi and Ravikant Tyagi possibly used as hideouts. The police team has yet to recover the 9 mm pistol used in killing the Group Captain.

The sources said the SIT had carried out raids in Ambeta Shekha, the native village of the Tyagi brothers, a few days ago but could not get any lead about their whereabouts. The team had picked up a friend of the Tyagi brothers in this connection, but his questioning had failed to provide any clue.

Pawandeep Singh is in police custody till February 24.



UN petitioned for grant to Indian World War prisoners
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 20
The UN has been petitioned for grant of monetary compensation to Indian soldiers who had suffered after being held captive by the Japanese during World War II.

The move, initiated by a local lawyer, comes after the British Government paid compensation to each member of its forces, including those from other countries who had been taken prisoner of war (POW), but denied the same to similarly placed Indian soldiers.

A formal petition was sent to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, headquartered in Geneva, earlier this month. Informed sources say that the UN mandate makes in mandatory for the high commissioner's office to act upon formal petitions seeking justice.

In 2002, Britain had decided to compensate all POWs held by the Japanese and had announced a grant of 10,000 pounds to each POW. This was initiated after reports said that the services of the Far Eastern Prisoner of War (FEPOW), which included several thousand Indian soldiers, had not been recognised.

A large number of Indian POWs, including the Gorkhas, had applied for compensation. They were, however, later excluded from the ambit of the scheme. Thereafter, the Nepal-based Gorkha Army Ex-Servicemen's Association had moved a London court, which ruled in their favour. Justice McCombe of the Queen's Bench Division had ruled that the decision to exclude the Gorkhas was "irrational and inconsistent with the principle of equality". Even Gorkha soldiers affected who are settled in India became eligible for the compensation.

The President of the Chandigarh chapter of Indian Ex-Services League, Brig Sant Singh (retd), said that excluding Indian soldiers was totally unjust on the part of the British Government, especially when it had received compensation from Japan for all POWs who fought under the British flag.

In his petition, a copy of which has also been given to the league for taking up the matter with the government, Capt Navdeep Singh has stated the action of the British Government as a grave human rights violation and against the spirit of Article 26 of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966, which provides for equality before law. 



Dug up, forgotten
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 20
Daily visitors and shopkeepers in Sector19-D are a peeved lot. The Municipal Corporation authorities have not filled up a portion of the land dug up reportedly by a telecommunication company for laying underground cables. The ground was dug more than two months back.

The stink near the pothole is nauseating because of the standing water in the pit filed with garbage.

Mrs Ranjana Sharma, a housewife, said: “I come here regularly to buy dairy products from a shop near the pothole. It is such an unseemly sight”.

Jagdish Kapoor, president of the Market Welfare Association, said: “Different departments have dug up the same place over, period, but nobody has covered it. The place is a threat to children too.”



Fauji Beat
Background to Army’s neglect

When Sir Robert lockhart, the first Commander-in-Chief of Independent India, presented to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru a paper on the proposed size and shape of the Army in the light of the perceived threats, Nehru’s response was: “Rubbish, total rubbish. We don’t need a defence plan. Our policy is non-violence. We foresee no military threats. Scrap the Army. The police is good enough to meet our security needs”.

It was the invasion of Kashmir a few days later in October 1947 that kept the Army going. But it still did not change Nehru’s mind. So much so that even after the Chinese debacle in 1962, he had not shed his bias towards the Army. The result was that in December 1962, when the Army embarked upon rapid expansion after years of neglect, Nehru in a letter to Bertrand Russel said: “The danger of military mentality spreading in India and the power of the Army increasing bothered him”.

This anti-Army mindset has travelled down the line to our political leadership with the result that the Army has always been kept outside the national mainstream. No wonder that the politicians and bureaucrats do not give the Army its due. This should amply explain why the Chief of Defence Staff’s (CDS’) appointment is still not through, the modernisation of the Army moves at a snail’s pace, a jawan does not get 50 per cent of his pay as pension and one rank one pension demand, despite its acceptance years ago, is still not implemented. These are only a few of several such examples.

A historic battle

Colachal is a coastal town of Travancore state, which is now in Tamil Nadu. It was in the historic battle of Colachal that the Travancore forces, now 9 Madras (Travancore), completely routed the Dutch forces on the seaport in 1741. Capt Eustace De Lanoy, the Commander of the Dutch forces, was also captured in the battle. The Maharaja of Travancore asked him to train the his forces, the latter readily agreed.

Capt De Lanoy raised a fort at Udayagiri and started training the Army in 1741. After his retirement, he lived in Udayagiri. He died in 1777 and was buried in the fort, which is a tourists’ spot now.

Raised as personal bodyguards of the Maharaja of Travancore at Padmanabhapuram in Kalkulam taluk of Kanyakumari in 1704, 9 Madras (Travancore) is one of the oldest battalions of the Indian Army. In 1935, when Travancore joined the Indian State Forces Scheme, the battalion was re-designated as 1st Travancore Nayar Infantry. In April 1951, the battalion was integrated with the Indian Army and on May 1, 1954, it was merged with the Madras Regiment and re-designated as 9 Madras (Travancore). The unit has taken part in all operations after the Independence and has brought credit to the Madras Regiment.

Neglect of patients

Maj-Gen G.S. Nagra (retd), who figured prominently in the Bangladesh war in 1971, says that being a diabetic, he has to take two insulin injections every day. For these injections, he needs two syringes daily because a syringe, as written on it, is meant for only one use. When Maj-Gen Pruthwiraj Rao, Commandant of the Command Hospital, Chandimandir, was requested for the issue of the syringes, he gave sanction for only one syringe per day and recorded this in General Nagra’s prescription book. “This is a typical example of his unconcern towards even the senior ex-servicemen who have won many wars for the country by sacrificing their all”, says General Nagra.

Medical allowance

There are clear orders that the Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) members cannot draw the medical allowance of Rs 100 per month. Cases have come to notice where some members have continued to draw this allowance. Their ECHS membership is likely to be cancelled.

— Pritam Bhullar



National Youth Award for city resident
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 20
Davesh Moudgil, a Chandigarh resident, has been awarded the National Youth Award for the year 2004-05 in recognition of his public health services to the community at the youth festival held at Patna from February 13 to 17, 2006.

Mr Moudgil, a social worker, has done great work in the field of public health and launched a massive AIDS awareness programme under the catch word ‘Stop AIDS to keep the nation young’. He also organised a pulse polio rally, medical check up camp at Maloya and Hallomajra in August 2004 and distributed free ayurvedic medicines.

Mr Moudgil has organised door-to-door campaign for eye donation and convinced 109 persons to register their names with PGIMER, Chandigarh, for eye donation and has actively taken part in youth development programmes.



2001 Census publications, CDs released
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 20
The Directorate of Census Operations, Chandigarh, has released the latest publications and CDs of the 2001 Census.

A press note issued said, these publications and the CDs pertain to data on demographic, social, cultural and economic characteristics of population along with the administrative levels like country, states, districts, towns and cities and were useful for various plans, projects and research work.

The directorate has issued a catalogue of these publications with details,which could be obtained from the Assistant Director, Census Operations.



Villagers in dark for 3 days
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Dera Bassi, February 20
Residents of More Thikri village on the Dera Bassi-Ramgarh road are literally groping in the dark for the past three days.

With the Punjab State Electricity Board(PSEB) authorities dilly-dallying on the restoration of power supply, the lives of hundreds of harassed residents have been thrown out of gear.And to compound their problem, the PSEB authorities seem to be least bothered, despite repeated complaints.

It may be recalled that it was on Saturday that a truck reportedly rammed into a pole of the transformer in the village, damaging it. Even as the damage to the transformer was not much, the power authorities switched off the power, inconveniencing the residents, alleged the villagers.

With the examination time round the corner, children are the worst-affected, alleged Mr Harpal Singh, a former sarpanch. “Our repeated complaints to the power officials had fallen on deaf ears,” said Mr Avtar Singh.

Another resident, Mr Hakam Singh, threatened that the residents would be forced to block the Dera Bassi-Ramgarh road if the power supply was not restored.

A PSEB official concerned, when contacted, said the electric pole had been damaged and it would be replaced after an estimate was prepared.



HC puts MC chief poll on hold
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, February 20
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today restrained the Haryana Government from holding election for the post of President of the Municipal Council, Panchkula, till further orders.

The order in this regard was issued by a Division Bench during preliminary hearing of a petition filed by Mr Tarun Bhandari, who was removed from the post of president a few days ago, challenging his removal.

In his petition, Mr Bhandari has also challenged the legality of the no-confidence motion passed against him by councillors on February 15.

Mr Bhandari has alleged that the February 15 meeting, which was ultimately held as per schedule since the High Court did not stay its holding, could not have been held within six months of the last meeting.

Today, the court also issued notice of motion to the respondents for February 28.



Pact not binding on Mazdoor Sangh: Tribunal
Our Correspondent

Mohali, February 20
The Industrial Tribunal, Punjab, has held that the settlement of August 26, 2004, arrived at between the JCT Electronics Employees Union (Hind Mazdoor Sabha) and the management was not binding on the JCT Electronics Mazdoor Sangh (BMS).

Representatives of the mazdoor sangh, which is affiliated to the Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh, said here yesterday that the decision of the presiding officer of the tribunal meant that the mangement could not reduce the wages of workers to almost half and deprive them of benefits for the period of the lockout from March 13, 2002 to August 27, 2004. They said now workers could legally claim their dues before an appropriate authority.



Hallomajra resident booked for abducting minor
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, February 20
The police has booked a Hallomajra resident on the allegations of abducting a minor girl from his neighbourhood.

Sources in the Sector 31 police station said the father of the girl lodged a complaint, alleging that his 15-year-old daughter has been abducted by Santosh Kumar of the same village on February 6. The complainant, a labourer working in Industrial Area, told the police that the accused had seduced his daughter on the pretext of marrying her. He had been searching his daughter on his own, but in vain.

A case has been registered in this regard.

House burgled

Mr Baljit Singh of Modern Housing Complex, Mani Majra, reported to the police that Rs 37,000 and other articles had been stolen from his residence on Sunday. He told the police that the thieves gained entry by breaking open the locks. A case has been registered in this connection.

Car stolen

Mr V.K. Narula of Sector 42-C lodged a complaint with the police alleging that his Maruti car (CH-01-N-1879) was stolen from his residence on Saturday night. A case of theft has been registered.


The police has arrested Shoukat Ali of Indira Colony, Mani Majra, Manoj Kumar of Hallomajra village, Prem Kumar of Phase II, Industrial Area and Harinder Singh Rawat of Behlana village from near Singla Turn on the charges of indulging in gambling at a public place on Sunday. The police recovered Rs 490 from him. A case under the Gambling Act has been registered.



BSNL bonanza for subscribers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 20
The Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has come up with more schemes for the CellOne subscribers, besides extending the free Broadband DataOne service for its dial-up users for another month. Disclosing this, a spokesperson of the BSNL said the special scheme for dial-up users, upgrading to broadband getting a two-month rental waivers has been extended till March 31.

Besides the BSNL has introduced a “Friend and Family Scheme” for post-paid cellular customers. This scheme offers two plans. The first is for those customers who have a monthly rental of below Rs 225. Such subscribers by paying an additional Rs 65 can talk for 200 minutes free to any two BSNL local numbers (Cell / WLL or landline). And by paying Rs 85 the subscriber could talk to any three BSNL lines for 200 minutes. Normal call rates would apply after the free minutes.

In the second plan, consumers with a rental of Rs 325 or above can talk free for 300 minutes with any two BSNL lines by paying Rs 50 extra and by paying Rs 70 extra they could use these free minutes on 3 local lines. Calls made beyond the free minutes will be charged at 50 per cent of the applicable rates.



Need to reduce confiscatory nature of taxes: Singla
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 20
The Punjab Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, has called for an urgent need to reduce the “confiscatory nature of taxes”, so as to bring more big ticket tax evaders in the dragnet.

“The draconian powers of the tax collectors should be reduced, if we want more and more people to pay their taxes. The restructuring of the tax regime in the country since year 1992, has only led to a larger tax base,” he informed TNS, on the sidelines of the pre- budget meeting organised by PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He added that the idea was to get acceptance among masses for paying taxes.

Giving a clear indication of the fact that the Congress government in Punjab would go full throttle to woo the industry in the pre-election year, he said it had been decided to abolish octroi and VAT on sugar, textile and tobacco had been deferred. Other than this, there has been a 2 per cent reduction in Central Sales Tax (CST).

“With all this, the revenue loss for government would be around Rs 1225 crore - Rs 600 crore from octroi, Rs 400 crore from VAT deferred on three above mentioned items, and Rs 225 crore on the reduction in CST. We will have to bridge this gap in revenue loss,” he informed TNS, without elaborating if any new tax was being imposed in the ensuing budget.

The Finance Minister, however, invited suggestions from the PHDCCI for bridging the gap in revenue generation, in order to meet the expenses of local area development. As suggested by the PHDCCI delegates, Mr Singla said the trucks entering Punjab could be asked to pay entry tax of Rs 500 each (to be borne by consignee), property tax could be imposed on big residential property owners; and imposition of surcharge on VAT (may be 0. 5 per cent).

Mr Singla also announced the issuance of tardable bonds in lieu of the capital subsidy. These three-year bonds could be encashed proportionately every year. He also said the state was doing well in the IT sector and real estate, and the main focus in the budget would be on promotion of automobile and textile industry.

Mr Amarjit Goyal, Chairman, Punjab Committee, PHDCCI, said the objective of the state budget for the year 2006-07 should be to achieve the 10th Plan target of attaining 8 per cent growth and further consolidate the financial position of the state which was also recommended by the 12th Finance Commission. He said the state government should make efforts to eliminate revenue deficit so that borrowings were not used to meet revenue expenditure, improve credit rating, impose ceiling on guarantees through the mechanism of fiscal responsibility legislation and follow Recruitment and wage policy to achieve higher efficiency. He also suggested the need to reduce number of government departments, improve delivery mechanism, reduce the level of debt and reduce interest outgo.

The delegates also demanded doing away with VAT audit and payments in regard to VAT should be on quarterly basis (for turnover exceeding Rs 1 crore), which is presently required to be made on monthly basis.



New bank in city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 20
Leading investment bankers, Allegro Capital Advisors, today launched their operations in the city, with the opening of a branch in Sector 9 today. This is Allegro’s 21st bank across India and seventh in the northern region.

The company will initially offer its entire portfolio of investment advisory services, including the niche private banking service, besides its extensive wealth management and risk advisory services and over a period of time introduce the entire range of its investment banking capabilities.


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