C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


No bidding at auction of UT banquet hall
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 7
The auction of the banquet hall by the Estate Office of the Chandigarh Administration proved to be a damp squib with no bidding, and ultimately led to the the cancellation of the event here today.

The auction of the property on leasehold saw three names on the list of bidders before the auction commenced. They all expected the administration to lower the reserve price. The reserve price quoted by the administration was Rs 23.23 crore. Gurpal Kalra, Mohit and Elegant Infrastructure were the three names in the register where they deposited Rs 50,000 each to qualify for the bid.

"The reserve price is too high. In case they reduce it to Rs 10 crore at the auction, I can think of participating", Mr Kalra said. Similar opinion was expressed by Mr Subhash Sethi, owner of a tent house.

"The banquet hall measuring nearly 3.75 acres is located in Sector 38(west). The successful bidder will have to pay the whole amount within 90 days, deposit the lease money annually and also spend on the infrastructure which makes the deal a little tough on us", Mr Sethi said.

Mr Kalra said: "Banquet hall was a business, a little different from the routine. Banquet halls do not give business for more than 80 days in a year. We are asked to deposit the total amount within 90 days, which was a bit harsh. The financing norms have changed in the market and similar changes should be incorporated in the UT policy. A period varying between five and 10 years to make the full payment was ideal", Mr Kalra said.

Mr Narbir Singh, a leading property consultant, said:"It is very difficult for an undeveloped property to go on a leasehold. This was evident from the flop show for the hotel site in Rajiv Gandhi Information Technology Park recently. Commercial sites in sectors 35 and 44 had also met similar fate."

Mr Narbir Singh said "the property prices were highly bloated in the city, particularly for the property on the leasehold. Why will anybody pay such a high price, pay the annual leasehold price and spend on infrastructure?"

It was also suggested that a series of failures in selling UT property underlined the need for a special consultancy services to help in planning an auction.

Mr N.S.Brar, Assistant Estate Officer, said "the administration does not sell the commercial property on a freehold basis. We are bound by the rules. The reserve price is fixed after serious deliberations at the highest levels".

The auction began nearly two hours after the scheduled time at 10 a.m.

The Chandigarh Administration made a big gain in the auction of an SCO site in Sector 17 because of battle of prices between two groups who bid continuously to outdo each other. The reserve price of the SCO was fixed at Rs 2. 01 crore. It fetched Rs 5.05 crore in the final bid.

The representative of Amartex Group, a leading local business house, always made an announcement of Rs 50,000 more than the rival group and looked determined to clinch the deal. A group got together in the opposition and managed the deal. The bidders included Mr Madan Gulati, Mr M.P.S,Chawla, president of the Chandigarh Industrial Association, and Mr N. Sachdeva, besides others.

Mr Gulati said:"The deal is not a bad one even on the leasehold. The property is already constructed and is located in the heart of the city. We can rent it out and have fixed monthly returns".



Jessica, we are with you
Gayatri Rajwade
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 7
It was a spontaneous outpouring, an expression of grief, a silent scream for justice denied to Jessica Lal. The candle-light vigil and the signing of a petition against the verdict to the President of India at the Sukhna Lake in the evening today was an expression of solidarity.

The crowds came in droves, lighting candles, standing in groups and expressing disbelief at the court’s verdict.

On the eve of International Women’s Day, the unifying belief was “denial of justice to every woman and Jessica being a glaring example of that ”.

Most referred to it as a barter between the bureaucracy and the legislature and slaughter of democracy. “We demand justice,” said Ms Ranbirtalib, a resident of the city.

For Kalpana and Nishi, who were part of the original idea, the prime moving force was the fact that as the city that houses the accused, solidarity must come from here for the victim.

The call for the vigil was started by a group of friends yesterday as they sat talking about the case. The idea took shape through telephone calls, SMS and word-of-mouth. The more than 500 candles brought for the vigil ran out in a mere half hour even as curious onlookers stopped by to light a candle.

For Kanwar, Priyanka, Manisha and Gaurav, engineering students at Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, in the city for some training, it is not about Manu Sharma, but about the system. “Killing is a serious crime and punishment must be served, only then will faith be restored.”

For Susheela Devi of Sector 19, who is going through hell at her home, the lighting of a candle was her way of saying no more. “If even in death there is no justice, I do not care what happens to me anymore.”

Joginder Singh Khaira, a retired senior citizen, vociferously demanded the boycott of Manu Sharma and his entire family. “Demonstrations will not affect them. Actions should be where it hurts whether justice prevails or not. Hurt them mentally.”

Despite the teeming multitude, an air of fear pervaded the atmosphere. “Do not name us, for we do not know what will happen,” said some. A number of men refused to comment or asked for their names to be changed.

The women, however, came up in numbers wanting to air their feelings. The last words belonged to Reiki Masters and Healers, Anita Bansal and Poonam Sharma. “When you feel from the heart, you feel no fear.” 



Kidnapping turns out to be revenge story
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 7
Falsifying allegations of rape and kidnapping levelled by a 21-year-old girl against a boy in the neighbourhood, his mother and two other persons, the police found that the girl, instead, had eloped with the accused mentioned in the complaint.

Earlier in the day, the victim’s father said it was only after meeting a local human rights activist that his daughter came out with the details of the offence. Until meeting the activist, she had kept the family in the dark about the incident and had only blamed the accused for kidnapping her.

Citing the reason behind the canard cooked by the girl, the police said Pankaj, the boyfriend of the girl, conspired with her to take revenge on his aunt, Radha Rani, who had been booked in the case along with her son Yugdeep.

The police said Radha had caught the couple in a compromising position about six months ago. She threw out Pankaj from her house. Radha had also told girl’s parents about her conduct.

The SHO of Sector 36 police station, Inspector Ishwar Singh Mann, said the police had collected “enough evidence” in this regard like the mobile call details exchanged between them in the past three days. The police had also recorded the statement of the neighbours of Pankaj in Batala, his native city, who told the police that they had seen the Pankaj with the girl on February 28 and also in the Monday afternoon.

Following the information a police team was despatched to Batala late last night to trace the couple. But by the time the police reached the locality Pankaj fled from there along with the girl as he had got information about the police’s arrival.

Mr Mann said the girl left the city with Pankaj on February 28 and stayed there that night. The next day they came back to the city and hatched a conspiracy to implicate Radha and Yugdeep along with Ashu and Vishal, their neighbours.

After Radha and others had been caught, the girl used to meet Pankaj, who had shifted to Baltana village. The police has the mobile call details revealing the fact the that girl had been constantly in touch with Pankaj between March 2 and 4. She called him up thrice on March 22, 22 times the next day and 24 times on March 24.

Sources in the Sector 36 police station said the couple was traced in Amritsar and they were making efforts to approach the police and parents of the girl.

The girl’s father said his daughter changed her statement after meeting Arvind Thakur. He further added that the lawyer had told him yesterday not to worry about his daughter as she would return home on her own on Tuesday morning as she was seen near Sukhna Lake in the evening and it would weaken her case.

Mr Arvind Thakur maintained that the girl had given in writing to him that she was raped by one person and her father had put his witness to her statement. Mr Thakur further said it was victim’s father who came to his residence last night and told him that his daughter had gone missing. Denying the allegations that he told him not to worry as the girl would come home, Mr Thakur said he only told him that he could not do anything in this regard and his daughter being an intelligent girl would come back.



Admn may cut VAT on liquor
Tribune News service

Chandigarh March 7
The Chandigarh Administration is learnt to have made up its mind to charge a nominal value-added tax (VAT) on liquor. At present the VAT on liquor is 22 per cent.

The proposed step is being taken in the wake of the relief offered to the liquor contractors and Bacchus lovers by the neighbouring states in their new liquor policies.

The aim is to ensure that the price of different brands of liquor in the city remains on a par with the prices in neighbouring areas of Punjab and Haryana, said an officer in the Administration. Other sops to be offered could be lowering the excise duty by around 10 per cent and lowering of licence fee.

Sources in the Administration said it would take some days before the relief was made public. It would be possible to announce it after the process of allotment of all vends, urban and rural, was over.

It may be mentioned that the policy of licensing is being followed in Maharashtra, Goa, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

Meanwhile, all is set for the allotment of retail sale vends of IMFL (L 2) and countrymade liquor (L 14-A) for 2006-07 to be held at Tagore Theatre here tomorrow.

Mr I.S. Sandhu, Deputy Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Chandigarh, will be the presiding officer and the proceedings for the allotment will be conducted under his supervision.

There are 150 vends of IMFL (L 2) and 65 of countrymade liquor (L 14-A) to be allotted in the city. The allotment will be made only for those vends for which applications have been received by the Excise and Taxation Department by February 20. In case lesser number of applications are received than the number of licenses to be allotted in a locality, the allotment will be made to the applicants only. The left-over vends will be allotted after re-advertisement in the papers.



Europe offers same civic amenities in urban, rural areas, says expert
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 7
To promote institutional strength and capacity building in local governance in Punjab, experts from India and abroad presented their views and discussed related aspects at seminar organised by the Centre for Research in Industrial and Rural Development (CRRID) here today.

The two-day seminar is being organised in collaboration with the Study Group for European Policies, Brussels, and the European Commission and seeks to identify and adopt best practices in selected European countries like Britain, Spain, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium.

Giving an overview of functioning of local self government institutions in Europe, Mr J. P. Gupta, principal coordinator and honorary director, CRRID, said in Europe there was no division like urban or rural councils. The system provided the same civic amenities in rural and urban areas grouped together on a geographical basis.

He said facilities like provision of water supply, sewerage, sanitation, and garbage disposal had been offloaded to the private sector, for which households paid directly to the contractors concerned at tariffs approved by the regulating authorities. Recycling culture, he added, is taking roots all over Europe.

Due to the emergence of a globalised economy and the formation of the European Union, countries there, he added, are undertaking reforms towards further decentralisation and promotion of non-governmental organisations.

The role of local self government authorities in Italy was highlighted by Yuri Kazepov, deputy head, Department of Sociology at the University of Urbino.

The Italian republic has a three-tier system, with a central government and Parliament, regional governments and the local councils.

At the local level there are 100 provinces, with 14 metropolitan areas and a total of 8103 local authorities.

A municipal council elected by universal direct suffrage has general powers and approves budgets. It is a decision-making body at the local level. They are responsible for local civic amenities, tourism, cultural activities and other socio-economic activities.

Several presentations were made on the functioning and management practices in various European countries by members of a study team sent by CRRID to these countries earlier.

Experts also spoke on local self-government practices in some Indian states.



Rain fails to bring down temperature
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 7
The much-awaited spell of rain, the gusty wind prancing around the city with dry leaves in tow and trees waving as if to welcome the pleasant weather — the city woke up to all this, but it didn’t last very long.

For, from behind the clouds, after playing hide and seek for a while, the sun came out with a vengeance and by noon the city’s early morning “wet look” had just about disappeared.

The temperature, too, had begun to climb up much to the disappointment of city residents.

However, all is not lost yet. There’s certainly a silver lining to these clouds which float away so easily, without quenching the city’s thirst, without drenching it and without checking the temperature rise. The Meteorological Office says “more rain and better rain” is expected tomorrow and the next couple of days.

“Today’s rain, measuring 2.8mm, was the consequence of the western disturbance hovering over North Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir as also due to induced cyclonic circulation over North Rajasthan and adjoining Punjab and Haryana.

The system seems weak since the rainfall at night, too, was way below our expectation. However, rain will come visiting again, says Director of the office Chhatar Singh Malik.

However, cricket lovers need not be worried about the fate of the second Test match between India and England to be held at the PCA stadium in Mohali on March 8.

While rain is expected in the next couple of days, the shower is unlikely to be “powerful” enough to wash out a day’s play. The office maintains it’ll be a light shower lasting only an hour or so if at all it does rain.

The city recorded a maximum temperature of 31 degrees centigrade and a minimum temperature of 14.6 degrees centigrade.

The city had recorded a maximum of 30.6 degrees centigrade yesterday and a minimum of 14.2 degrees centigrade yesterday.



International Women’s Day celebrated
Tribune News Service

Mohali March 7
The Jan Shikshan Sansthan (JSS), Mohali, celebrated International Women's Day. About 200 female students of various vocational courses participated in the celebrations.

Speaking on the occasion Prof Asha Sethi of the JSS explained the importance of the day. She said it provided an opportunity to reflect on various issues affecting women. She traced the history of women's position in the Indian society. She highlighted discrimination being faced by women in terms of education, health, personal freedom and right to live with dignity in family 
and society.

Mr Dildar Khan, Director, JSS, said formation of self-help group (SHGs) not only helped rural women to meet their financial requirements but also to develop wisdom to use their own resources with discretion for productive purpose.

Mr Anand Mohan Sharma, Programme Officer, JSS, highlighted the issues of women's rights and empowerment. 



Be responsive to women issues, says Governor
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 7
Gen S.F.Rodrigues (retd), Governor of Punjab and UT Administrator, today advocated the need for establishing a more responsive system for enhancing the dignity, honour and respect of women in different spheres of activity.

In a message on the eve of International Women’s Day, General Rodrigues said women performed a multi-dimensional role in society and an action-oriented approach was a must, at all levels, for improving their lot.

He said it was a matter of serious concern and introspection for all that women, who constituted about half of the world’s population, received only one-tenth of the world’s income and less than one- hundredth of the world’s total property.

He said all development para-meters like health, education, employment, social security and governance indicated an abysmally low status and an average participation in most fields. It was, therefore, imperative for all to be more responsive to issues concerning women and to tackle the problem faced by them on a priority basis.

General Rodrigues said the Constitution provided a number of legal and administrative remedies and the Central and state governments had set up national and state- level commissions and welfare councils, for ameliorating the lot of women but the goals had not been achieved because of lack of the desired social and community support. The need of the hour was, therefore, to activate international, national and state-level social voluntary agencies to generate mass awareness by reaching out to each and every home.

The Governor appealed to NGOs, social activists, the media and government functionaries, alike, to pool their efforts and jointly strive to safeguard the interests of women, eradicate the unethical practice of female foeticide and to check domestic violence.



Announcement on bypass welcomed
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 7
The announcement regarding the Pinjore-Kalka bypass and the four-laning of the Zirakpur-Parwanoo national highway has been hailed by local residents. The announcement was made by the Union Minister of State for Poverty Alleviation, Ms Selja Kumari, on March 4.

Mr Sanjay Joshi, senior Congress leader, while welcoming the decision, said this was a long-pending demand of the residents of the area. “This stretch between Pinjore and Kalka is a major bottleneck. Because of heavy traffic flow, a number of road accidents have taken place on the stretch. The markets along the present highway are also inaccessible to the local population because of the traffic congestion.

It will be a major reprieve for commuters as well as the residents of Kalka and Pinjore,” he added.

The construction of the bypass is expected to begin next year. The four-lane, 14.34-km-long bypass will be constructed on a build operate and transfer basis.

This proposed bypass has its take off point at Mallah, just before Yadvindra Gardens in 
Pinjore, and after passing through Ghatiwala, Kahanguwala and Tipra, 
it will meet the NH-22 beyond Parwanoo. 



Employees’ unions hold rally
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 7
Members of the Punjab and UT Employees Action Committee today organised a rally and burnt copies of the Budget presented by the Finance Minister of Punjab, Mr Surinder Singla, in the Vidhan Sabha at the Matka Chowk, Sector 17, today.

The members were protesting against the non-fulfilment of the promises made in the manifesto of the Congress in 2002. The chairman of the committee, Mr Sajjan Singh, said the employees would burn copies of the Budget in front of the office of the DC in various districts on March 14. The state executive meeting would be held in Ludhiana on March 15 and the next course of action would be decided at the meeting.

Members of the Punjab Market Committee Workers Union also staged a dharna and raised slogans in front of the office of the Mandi Board in Sector 17. The protesters alleged that the Chairman of the Mandi Board not following the governments instructions.

Addressing the rally, the union president, Mr Gian Chand, demanded an increase in the medical allowance and increase in grade after every 4, 9 and 14 years.

A dharna was also held by the Punjab Subordinate Services Federation at the Matka Chowk. The union president, Mr Succha Singh Ajnala criticised the anti-employees policies of the Punjab Government. Meanwhile, the Democratic Employee's Front has demanded that daily wager, contract and part time employees should be regularised.



Air Marshal Chengappa visits
Air Force Station
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 7
Air Officer-in-Charge, Maintenance at Air Headquarters, Air Marshal B.U. Chengappa visited the Air Force Station, High Grounds, here today. He inspected the MIG 27/29 TETTRA School and was briefed about ongoing courses, innovations and training aids developed by the school by the Station Commander, Group Capt B.K. Sood.

He also inspected the newly set up MiG-29 training facilities there. He discussed training and maintenance procedures and newly introduced training concepts with officers and airmen. Air Marshal Chengappa had commanded this station from March 1996 to April 1998.

The Air Marshal stressed upon the importance of training and urged the Air Force personnel to strive for professional excellence, be innovative in their approach and perform duties with dedication and zeal. He also urged instructors to act as a role model for the trainees.



Inspection at 3 BRD
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 7
The Air Officer-in-Charge Maintenance at Air Headquarters, Air Marshal B.U. Chengappa, arrived at 3 BRD here on a two-day inspection visit yesterday. He was received by the Air Officer Commanding, 3 BRD, Air Cmde R. K. Srivastava and other senior officers.

The Air marshal was briefed on various activities and projects being undertaken by the BDR. He also inspected various sections and establishments in the depot. Later, interacting with airmen and civilian employees, he appreciated the quality of work and the efforts put in by them to achieve the targets.



Two injured in attack at marriage party
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 7
Marriage celebrations went sour when two Mohali residents were hospitalised last night after being assaulted by some persons at Chandigarh Club here.

Sources at the Sector 3 police station said Mr Satnam Singh of Phase XI, Mohali, in his complaint lodged with the police alleged that two persons injured him and Mr Sandeep Singh, also of Phase XI, Mohali, at a marriage party at the club. The incident occurred at around 1.30 a.m. Both were taken to the Sector 16 General Hospital from where Sandeep was discharged today morning while Satnam was still under treatment. His condition was stated to be stable.

The SHO of the Sector 3 police station said the police had traced the person with whom the suspects had come to the party.



Youth held with stolen car
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 7
The police today arrested an unemployed youth and claimed to have recovered a stolen Maruti car from his possession.

Sources in the Industrial Area police station said the suspect had been identified as 26-year-old Harjit Singh. He was arrested with the stolen car (UP-14-8651) from near the junk market in Industrial Area. The police zeroed in on him following a tip-off.

The sources added that he was coming in the car with a fake registration number (CH-03989). The police got suspicious of the number and stopped him. During preliminary verification, the car was found to be stolen from Sector 27. A case has been registered in this connection at the Sector 26 police station on the basis of a complaint filed by Mr D.D. Kathuria of Sector 4, Panchkula, on Monday.

Smack seized

The local police has arrested Sunita of Gandhi Colony, Sector 26, from Bapu Dham Colony on the charge of carrying 3 gm of smack on Monday. A case under Section 21 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substance Act has been registered. 



Vigilance books 8 MC contractors
Our Correspondent

Panchkula, March 7
The Haryana Vigilance Bureau tonight booked eight contractors working with the Municipal Council, Panchkula, on charges of cheating, fraud, breach of trust and criminal conspiracy.

Anil Kumar, R. S. Singla, Rajesh Kumar, Bhula Ram, Gurmeet, Atma Ram, Rajinder Kumar, and Vishal Kushal have been booked under Sections 406, 407, 420, 467, 468, 477 and 120 –B of the IPC. All eight contractors have been accused of using substandard materials in executing development works in public parks, road pavements and installation of swings on behalf of the MC.

The Bureau told The Tribune that the FIR had been registered following a thorough investigation. A complaint had been filed with the bureau by a local NGO, People’s Voice God’s Voice, in this regard.



Fake registry of land alleged
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Dera Bassi, March 7
A Director of the Shivalik Paper Mills Private Limited, Mr Prem Chand Jindal, has alleged fake registry of land by a former director of the company in connivance with revenue officials.

The land, measuring 17 bighas and 15 bishwas, was sold to a Panchkula-based party by the former director by falsely representing as the authorised signatory of the company, Mr Jindal alleged in a representation. 
The authorisation and powers relating to company's assets, including the land situated here, earlier given to the former director, were withdrawn at a meeting of the Board of Directors on November 10 last year. The general power of attorney, which was executed in my favour was registered at the Office of the Sub-Registrar at Chandigarh the same day, Mr Jindal claimed.

"The company is not a party to the alleged forged deal. There had been no agreement to sell the land and the company had received no consideration from the said buyers.

The registering authority without taking the facts into account allowed the registration of false deed in favour of the buyers," the representation alleged.



Multiplex to come up in industrial area
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 7
A local entrepreneur, based in Industrial Area, Phase I (Plot 43-A), has decided to go in for conversion of the plot for commercial use.

The Administration had allowed conversion of the property use of Industrial Area in July, 2005, and the only one party, Pasco Motors, had opted for the scheme till date.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Pankaj Sahgal, the proprietor, confirmed that he had submitted an application seeking conversion of the plot use today. “I have deposited the initial amount of Rs 3.48 crore. The place will be converted into a multiplex having shopping and entertainment lots.”

The industrialist said the project would be a joint venture with a Delhi-based developer and a Canada-based company. The total area to be covered under the project was about two lakh square feet.


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