C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Liquor shop allotments OK, rules HC
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 30
In an important decision, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has dismissed a petition seeking quashing of the allotment of liquor shops in Chandigarh under the new excise policy, which introduced a licensing policy instead of the existing practice of auction of shops.

The petitioners, Mr Ramesh Kumar Dogra and others, had moved the high court, seeking the quashing of the allotment of liquor shops made in terms of public notice as being contrary to the principle when the excise policy was announced for 2006-2007.

However, dismissing the petition, the Division Bench comprising Mr Justice H.S. Bedi and Mr Justice Ajay Kumar Mittal said it was of the opinion that no monopoly had been created in favour of any company or any category. The Bench noted that several individuals had also managed to get the licence for liquor shops, although a dominant number had gone to the companies.

The new excise policy says that the main purpose behind it was to break the monopoly of the cartels and preference was also proposed for the companies as this would bring discipline to the trade. During hearing, the petitioners had pleaded that by giving preference to the companies, the very purpose of breaking the monopoly of the liquor cartels had been violated. It was also argued that most of the liquor shops had been cornered by companies, which in many cases were not in liquor business. It was argued that a monopoly had been virtually created in favour of companies and individuals had been shut out.

Dismissing the petition, the court observed that safeguards to ensure that fake companies did not enter the trade had been provided in the policy, as only companies registered prior to December 2002 had been allowed. It also pointed out that the new policy envisaged to broadbase the liquor trade so that it went out of the grip of some groups, which had been exploiting the situation to their own ends.

Rebutting the claims made by the petitioners, counsel for the UT Administration had stated that the excise policy had prompted a good number of new players to enter the field and, therefore, ensured competition and transparency.

The Administration also argued that in the past two auctions because of the attempt by the cartels to capture the liquor trade of the UT, there had been an abnormal rise in the revenue. Its counsel had also pointed out that because of the takeover of the trade by a cartel, in which almost all major players of the liquor trade in North India had an interest, it would had been very difficult to auction shops at the next auction.

The cartel would have dictated terms as it has vast resources at its disposal, the counsel stated.

Sector 15 shop hearing on April 3

The high court on Thursday directed the Chandigarh Administration to apprise it on April 3 of its stand with regard to the newly allotted liquor vend in Sector 15-C, Chandigarh, which has been opposed by the residents of the area.

During hearing of the petition filed by Mr Hardip Singh and 16 other residents of Sector 15-C, seeking the setting aside of the allotment as it was violative of the excise policy, the Bench fixed April 3 as the next date of hearing.

The petitioner’s counsel informed the Bench that the liquor shop, which had an ahata next to it, had been allotted despite the pleas of the local residents to the contrary. The petitioners have also stated that their representation to the Chandigarh Administration in this regard has failed to evoke any response so far. 



Protests brew

Public outcry over the location of new liquor shops is increasing in the city. Residents of different sectors are lamenting that the Chandigarh Administration, with the aim to jack up its income, was increasing the number of shops without caring about their sentiments.

To register their protest, members of the Palsora Gram Panchayat today organised a dharna against the opening of a liquor shop adjoining the Health Centre. The residents also blocked the Chandigarh— palsora road against the shop.

Residents of Sector 15 market also downed their shutters against the location of a shop. The residents recently organised a dharna in protest against the location of the new shop.

Mr B.L. Luthra, a resident of Sector 15, said the liquor shop in a shop-cum-office (SCO) was close to educational institutes and religious places.

A similar protest has been made against the liquor shop in Sectors 11, 37 and 30 B market.

VAT on liquor to be cut

To attract liquor business to the city, the Chandigarh Administration is learnt to have decided to bring the VAT on liquor to 4 per cent.

The administration today allotted 11 shops, both IMFL and country, against the 68 unalloted shops. 



Slum kids clear Class V exams
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
They’ve grown up watching their mothers pick rags from the streets of Chandigarh. And while watching this, they have nurtured dreams of a life spared of dearth. This day brought them a tad closer to their dreams. Putting adversity behind them, Anup, Sahil and Lucky - children from the slums of Janata Colony - cleared the Class V examination conducted by the UT Education Department. What’s more, they managed impressive scores - by far the best their colleagues at the special school run by Theatre Age have managed.

At this school, run from the premises of Government High School, Sector 24, slum children undertake part-time study programmes offered by volunteers. They work in the mornings to supplement their family’s meagre incomes and study in the evenings to chart a better course for their future. Its significant that 16 slum children associated with Theatre Age have cleared Class V exams over a period of three years; six of them are preparing for class VIII exams.

As for Anup, Sahil and Lucky - they comprise the fourth batch of students to clear class V after a year full of hardship. They juggled between work and studies to prepare themselves for the “toughest exam of their lives”.

Naturally surprised with the results, the threesome did not know how to react when their mentor Zulfikar Khan broke the news this afternoon. When the sweetness of success finally seeped in, they jumped high as if to touch the sky - an expression of absolute bliss.

And then they itched to share the news with their mothers who would return late after picking rags through the day. “I hate to see my mother toil. When I study harder and become educated, I will not let her pick rags. I will earn and she will rest,” said the 12-year-old Sahil, hoping education would some day guarantee him a job.

He is, however, painfully aware that clearing Class V exams guarantees no jobs, not even jobs as sweepers. “We have to go a long way and we have to keep patience,” he said, hinting towards Anoop who has a widowed mother and a younger sister to care for.

Anoop does not have a job, nor does Lucky, who is the best scorer of Theatre Age. Both of them know they must persevere and wait. Emboldened by today’s success, they said, “We were not hoping to pass. But we know work does not go unrewarded. So we will continue to strive for a better life.”

So will the 16 children who cleared Class V exams but have not managed to get a job - not even that of a sweeper. The situation is painful, as Zulfikar, the force behind Theatre Age explains, “We need help to send these children to jobs. They are studying against tremendous odds. It is not easy to do so in situations where fathers are alcoholics and mothers are routinely abused. It goes without saying that these children need society’s support lest they drop out.”



Bheora admits attempts to reviving terror
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu

Chandigarh, March 30
Paramjit Singh Bheora, one of the prime accused in Beant Singh assassination case, used to hold meetings at a Rajpura-based hotel to “instigate” people against the state oppression and to join his terrorist module. This was disclosed by Bheora, activist of the Babbar Khalsa International (BKI), to the Chandigarh Police during his initial interrogation.

Sources in the Operation Cell of the Chandigarh Police said Bheora was moving freely in Punjab after his escape and used to frequently visit his home in Bheora village in Ropar district. Besides staying in several districts in the state, including, Patiala, Ropar, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala, Jalandhar and Ludhiana, Bheora also stayed in Rajasthan to avoid being noticed by the police.

The sources said the police would question the terrorist-cum-assassin of the former chief minister of Punjab about his hideouts in other states.

Casting an aspersion on the intelligence of the Punjab Police, Bheora told the Chandigarh Police that he never changed appearances and was moving freely. He also married while on the run with a Kapurthala-based girl.

A police officer preferring anonymity said on the basis of revelations made by Bheora during his sustained interrogation, the police would question him about persons who provided him shelter and also make a list of places that he had been visiting throughout his 26 months in hiding.

Meanwhile, Bheora was today presented before a local court, which remanded him in police custody till April 3. His two sisters along with their father Baldev Singh today filed an application in the court demanding that they should be granted permission to meet Bheora. However, the court rejected the application. 



SSP post: UT yet to send panel to MHA
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
More than a month after the Punjab Government sent a panel of three names to replace the SSP of Chandigarh, Mr Gaurav Yadav, the Chandigarh Administration is yet to even forward the panel to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs for a formal appointment.

Sources in the Punjab Government confirmed that the matter of sending the panel to the MHA had been taken up with the Chandigarh Administration that works directly under the control of the MHA. The administration is said to be waiting for a reply to its earlier letter to the MHA in which it had sought an extension in deputation period for Mr Yadav, said sources.

The opinion of the administration is that it will forward the panel once it was clear that Mr Yadav will not get an extension in tenure ending at the end of this month.

In the second week of February three names had been forwarded by the Punjab Government to be appointed as SSP Chandigarh. These were Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, Jalandhar, Mr A.S. Rai, SSP, Patiala and Mr S. Srivastava, SSP, Ferozepore. Interestingly, Mr Yadav, a 1992 IPS officer, is about to be promoted as DIG in his parent cadre.

As per past practice, the Administrator of UT, Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), was to mark out his preferences and forward the same to the MHA for appointment. The appointment is to be ratified by the Prime Minister. Punjab officials made enquiries on their own in the MHA and found that no panel for the SSP’s post had been received there.

It may be recollected that the MHA, had written a letter to the Punjab Government in January saying that a UT cadre IPS officer will be appointed when the tenure of Mr Gaurav Yadav, a Punjab cadre IPS officer, ends in March this year. The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, then took up the matter with the Union Home Minister, Mr Shivraj Patil, saying a move to appoint a UT cadre officer as SSP, Chandigarh, would disturb the pre-decided ratio of officers of Punjab to be posted at Chandigarh.



USA still under ‘Islam phobia’, says Muslim scholar
Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News service

Chandigarh, March 30
An overwhelming number of Muslims in the United States-59 per cent to be exact, perceive some discrimination in the post-9/11 scenario. However, most of them are determined to continue living there because they feel that historically attempts have been made to suppress every community in that country until they bounced back and became actively involved in key decision-making processes.

This was stated by Dr. Zahid H. Bukhari, Director, American Muslim Studies Program at Georgetown University in Washington.

Revealing interesting findings from studies on ‘Muslim Public Opinion in the US, Dr. Bukhari said that Muslims in the U.S were very concerned with the current happenings in the USA where sweeping powers were being given to the judiciary and the immigration authorities on the basis of ‘security concerns’ and ‘nation’s war on terror’. He described the passing of the recent ‘Patriotic Act’ that allows arrests, banning of organisations, freezing of accounts etc in the “interest of national security”.

Here as part of the ‘Visiting U.S Speaker Program Series’ of the U.S State Department, Dr Bukhari detailed statistics that emerged out of the Georgetown University’s Project MAPS and Zogby International’s joint 2004 American Muslim Poll survey titled, “Muslims in the American Public Square: Shifting Political Winds & Fallout from 9/11, Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Dr Bukhari said that the study has thrown up some astounding facts such as the one that revealed that the USA was home to immigrant Muslims from 80 countries. “Diversity is a major characteristic with regard to US Muslims. The only place on earth, other than the USA where you can see so many Muslims with such diverse backgrounds is the Haj”. Even though Muslims comprise only about 2 per cent of the U.S population, but the U.S Government was very concerned about what the Muslims thought about the U.S domestic and foreign policies.

Many in the USA today suffer from “Islam phobia”, but with efforts from Muslim community leaders are trying to dispel the misgivings. A serious effort is being made to highlight the fact that all Muslims are not ‘terrorists’. The U.S Government realises that the opposition by Muslim groups of U.S foreign and domestic policies, opposed by Muslims after Afghanistan, 9/11 and Iraq are now being opposed by other Americans too.

He said that the survey also found American Muslims overwhelmingly wished to be involved politically and to see their children involved in politics. And, despite their disillusionment with the current political system in the USA, the survey found a great deal of optimism among the American Muslims: A majority (51%) of American Muslims says this is a good time to be a Muslim in America. The survey also found a willingness to become a part of the American mainstream. This is despite the fact that over one-third of American Muslims believe that the U.S. war on terrorism is really a war on Islam.



Need to regulate foreign varsities’ campuses: expert
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
The University Grants Commission Secretary Prof Mool Chand Sharma said there was an urgent need to regulate the functioning of private and foreign universities’ campuses in the country.

Talking to media persons at Panjab University here today, Prof Sharma said the UGC had in a set of suggestions made to the Government of India in this regard recommended that the same set of rules which applied to the central and state universities should apply to these universities.

Voicing concern over the mushrooming of private universities in the country, Prof Sharma, however, pointed out that responsibility also lay with the state governments to ensure that quality education was provided to the students.

“There is a Bill under consideration regarding such universities by Parliament but if private universities are allowed to function, these would be monitored to ensure quality, accessibility and a rational fee structure,” he said.

Prof Sharma said that rationalisation of fee structure was a responsibility of the universities concerned or state governments and the UGC had a limited role to play in it.

“The Government of India has formed a commission to consider the various aspects of the introduction of foreign universities in the country. The commission would look into the form of link established, the course offered the validity of the degrees, the establishment of campuses and also a rational fee structure,” he said.



Befitting tribute to printing
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
If the story of printing is the story of civilization, you have it all told in a succinct, form on a 13-page table-top calendar - Printers Calendar 2006-2007.
A brainchild of Ludhiana-based printing shop owner Kamal Chopra, the calendar offers a complete history of printing that goes back to over 100, 000 years. But more than that, it offers rich tributes to the unsung heroes who made the written expression possible with the sweat of their brow.

After years of research that took him to the Printing Museum and Institute of Graphics Communication at Beijing and the Library of the Congress in Washington, Kamal Chopra put this work together as a tribute to printing - a profession he is passionate about.

But he clarifies, “This is just a desk-top calendar, not a complete end product. I have laboured to make it valuable and useful to those who love the written word.” Chopra also makes a quick reference to Ludhiana and its first date with printing in 1809 - the year when the first printing press came to the city.

But this bit of information was not enough to quench Chopra’s quest for knowledge. So he sifted journals and archives in the British Library, London, to pick pictorial references to the evolution of printing.

His calendar begins with a generous dose of information on the cave painting at Lascaux, France (circa 20, 000 BC) and a reference to the Neanderthals who are believed to be the first humans to have harnessed fire, had religion and invented language and art.

From Neanderthals the calendar goes down to record references to the Sumerian clay tablets dating back to 3500 BC. These tablets bear the first recorded thoughts of man, although writing came later. Chopra says, “The roots of modern book can be traced to the book rolls of ancient Egypt, Greece or Rome. Manuscripts copied by hand in ink applied with a pen or brushes were a significant feature of these civlisations.

Besides recording vignettes on printing’s evolution, the calendar also offers information on the movable types of clay - something which the Chinese inventor Pi Sheng gave to the world. It involved a technique of going beyond wood blocks and printing from the movable types. After talking about these types, Chopra reserves a space for the portrait of Johannes Gutenberg and also for the facsimile of 42-line Bible which he printed in 1452.

Finally comes the reference to India, as Chopra shows a map of the country detailing some of the earliest printing presses and their locations. “Printing came “accidentally” to India,” says Chopra.

Interestingly, Bishop-designate of Abyssinia broke his journey at Goa in 1550 AD and subsequently died due to illness. He left behind a wooden printing press he was carrying. It was his associate who eventually set up this press in India in 1556 AD.



Chandigarh-Morinda rail line inspected
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
The final exercise to certify the safety of the 45-km section of the Chandigarh-Morinda railway line began today with the Commissioner Railway Safety (CRS), Northern Railway, Mr Bhupinder Singh, inspecting the track.

After inspecting the section between the Morinda and Mohali railway stations, the CRS will tomorrow inspect the remaining section up to the Chandigarh railway station. The inspection by the CRS is the final step before passenger trains run on the track.

Initially, the plan was to inspect the complete section of the track up to Chandigarh. But after a reported slight disagreement between the CRS and the Chief Signal and Telecommunication Engineer (Construction), Northern Railways, the former left the Mohali railway station.

Sources said against the mandatory six-cord telecommunication cable, the signaling wing had laid a four-cord cable. The CRS, however, denied that he had left the venue over the issue. “I will continue with my inspection tomorrow,” he added.

He said the track would become operational for passenger trains soon. After inspecting the track on “push trolleys”, speed trials would be made to test the strength of the track. A rain check would also be run on the track tomorrow.

The CRS was accompanied by senior officials from the Northern Railways headquarters at New Delhi.

The electrification of the 45-km section of the rail track between Chandigarh and Morinda has been cleared by the Railway Board. About Rs 14 crore was sanctioned for the electrification. Initially, the Railway authorities have estimated around Rs 11 crore for the work. The total cost of electrification up to Ludhiana has been estimated at Rs 42 crore.

Sources said with electrification it would be possible to divert any long-distance train at present running on the Ambala-Rajpura-Ludhiana section to run on the Ambala-Chandigarh-Ludhiana section.

The Chandigarh-Ludhiana route had been planned in 1997. Due to the delay in implementation of the project, the overall cost of the project has shot above Rs 400 crore against the initial cost of around Rs 377 crore. A total of Rs 200 crore has been spent so far of the Rs 270 crore which had been sanctioned by the Railway Board for the project.

The work on the remaining 67-km Morinda-Sahnewal- Ludhiana track is expected to take another three years as the process to acquire land in nine of the 15 villages is in progress.



SEZ may not be feasible in Zirakpur-Dera Bassi belt
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Dera Bassi, March 30
The ambitious plan of the Amarinder Singh government to develop a 700-acre special economic zone (SEZ) along the Zirakpur-Dera Bassi belt to give a fillip to the industrial activity ahead of the Punjab Assembly elections early next year may not see the light of the day.

With large tracts of land not available in this stretch of land, the idea of the government to have a state-of-the-art SEZ seems to be far-fetched. In fact, with the residents against any move by the Punjab Government to acquire land, the project seems to be doomed.

The Zirakpur-Dera Bassi belt is proving to be a goldmine for the farmers with mega real estate companies launching their projects in the area. The entry of the big real estate players had pushed the land out of the reach of even small and medium builders.

Sources said any move by the government to acquire land for the SEZ would be opposed by the farmers since the official compensation of the land was woefully low. In fact, the government was already facing a stiff opposition from farmers for the acquisition of land for the development of the Zirakpur Urban Estate.

Moreover, it may not be a viable proposition for an industrial house to develop such a huge SEZ.” The shortage of land and the prohibitive land costs could frustrate the government plans,” Mr Bhupinder Saini, a Dera Bassi-based property consultant, said.

Mr Jagjit Singh, a farmer from Singhpura who has been fighting against the acquisition of land by the government, said the government should not acquire the project. And the private developers would face an acute shortage of land, he added.

The Empowered Committee on Industries has yesterday okayed the mega project expected to bring in an investment of Rs 2,243 crore. Besides IT companies’ offices, residential townships, schools, hospital and recreational facilities are envisaged in the SEZ.

A government functionary conceded that practical difficulties were in the way of the SEZ. With Chandigarh Technology Park(CTP) also in the race for the SEZ status, this SEZ may not catch the fancy of the IT industry. The very fact that there is a huge gap in the provision of facilities in Chandigarh and the Zirakpur-Dera Bassi belt could prove to dampener for the latter, the functionary added.



Benches, railing in park okayed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
The Environment and City Beautification Committee, Municipal Corporation, today approved various agenda items, including providing precast concrete reinforced benches for various gardens/green belts under the jurisdiction of the corporation.

The meeting was held under the chairmanship of Ms Kamlesh and attended by other committee members Lalit Joshi, H.S. Lucky, Pushpa Sharma and Raghbir Singh, XEN (Horticulture).

The committee approved flat iron railing and benches for a park in Sector 21-A, flat iron railing, children play equipments, huts and cast iron benches in parks of Sector 16, children play equipments and benches in the park near House Number 1676, Sector 33 and children play equipments near YWCA, Sector 11.

Providing rain shelter with sitting facility in various parks and green belts in Sector 20 and 33, development of parks and green belts by providing CPE and benches in Sector 20 and 33, development of landscaping works in green belts in Sector 29 A and B, development of landscaping works at a park in front of slaughterhouse, Industrial Area, Phase II, providing hut with benches and grassing in green belt Bapu Dham Colony Sector 26, also got the nod of the committee.

Installation of railing in different parks under ward No 6 in Sector 36, 37 and 38, development / landscaping works in parks of Sector 21, flat iron railing in different parks of Sector 35, providing new railing in parks in Sector 18-C and two huts in green belt sector 19-A and B (near Community Centre), development of parks in Sector 19 (near 232 , 233, 234 and behind Environment Bhavan were also approved among similar facilities in other sectors.



BJP protests against contractor
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
Activists of the Bharatiya Janata Party today lodged a protest against the electricity contractor for allegedly misbehaving with the public over inflated bills. At a demonstration held at Transport Chowk, the activists demanded the cancellation of the contract and burnt an effigy of the contractor.

Maintaining that the contractor was charging exorbitant bills from the poor, the president of the BJP Labour Colony Cell, Mr Megh Raj Verma, said paying to a contractor was not acceptable to the residents.

“We are willing to pay to the government directly but the contractor just doesn’t suit us. He charges inflated bills and goes around abusing and bashing up people if they ask for justification of high costs. The Administration should evolve a system where these colony residents can pay their bills directly to the government,” he said.

Referring to a police case which has been registered against the contractor, Mr Verma added that the poor people of the colony were being unnecessarily harassed by the contractor. A former Member of Parliament, Mr Satpal Jain, also participated in the protest and lashed out at the Congress for implementing wrong policies which did not favour the poor.



Devotees throng Mansa Devi
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 30
Hundreds of devotees from all over the region converged at Sri Mata Mansa Devi Shrine here to pay obeisance on the first day of the Chaitra Navratra Mela today. The nine-day fair began at the shrine with traditional fervour and gaiety. Amidst elaborate security arrangements and arrangements for public utilities, the devotees started gathering at the shrine from the wee hours. A number of newly-married couples visited the shrine.

Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Education Minister Phool Chand Mullana were among the first ones to pay obeisance at the shrine complex. They also performed yajna on the occasion.

Others who accompanied the ministers included Principal Secretary to CM M.L.Tayal, MLA Parsanni Devi and other officers of the district administration.

Being a working day the number of persons visiting the shrine were less than expected. However, by the evening good number devotees started pouring in.



Kaimbwala residents prevent demolition
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
Residents of Kaimbwala village today blocked the road leading to the village against an effort by the Administration to demolish houses constructed outside the lal dora of the village.

Sensing the mood of the protesters, the Enforcement staff made a hasty retreat. There are about 300 houses outside the lal dora.

Within minutes of getting information that three JCBs of the Enforcement staff were coming towards the village, the villagers squatted on the road and started raising slogans against the Administration. They were joined by the villagers of Khuda Ali Sher.

Though the officials of the Enforcement staff claimed that the drive had been cancelled as they could not get the required police force, the villagers claimed that their protest had forced the officials to withdraw. Later, some structures were demolished in Kajehri and Palsora.



New Indira Colony residents’ protest
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
The residents of New Indira Colony, Manimajra, today, took out a protest march from the colony to Sector 9 to protest against the attitude of the Chandigarh Housing Board authority.

The residents were protesting against issuing of resumption notices for tenements by the Housing Board authorities.

The residents maintained that though they had been allotted tenements on grounds of resettlement of labour colonies, no letters had been received by a large number of allottees. The residents of the colony approached the authorities for allotment of letters and allowing transfers through GPA ,but in vain.

Despite repeated meetings with officials, the matter remained unresolved and fresh resumption notices were being issued to tenement owners for opening small shops in their homes. They maintained that the future course of action would be finalised if the protest failed to elicit a favourable response from the authorities.

The residents are demanding possession letters of the tenements, no objection certificates and clearance of small shops in tenements .



PPCB to prosecute MC
Our Correspondent

Mohali, March 30
The Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) will be prosecuting municipal councils of five towns, including that of Mohali, for violating pollution control norms.
This was stated by Mr Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Chairman of the PPCB, at a function organised in connection with the inauguration of the regional office building in Phase II here today.

The inauguration was done by the Punjab Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla. The building was constructed at a cost of Rs 96 lakh.

Mr Bajwa said the PPCB kept issuing notices to the councils of the five towns for the past six years, but failed to get the desired results. Notices were issued to the civic bodies of Tarn Taran, Ropar, Mullanpur, Nangal and Mohali, but no action was taken by these bodies to check pollution in the areas under their jurisdiction.

He said the civic bodies kept pointing out that they did not have the required funds for this purpose.

He said a meeting was held yesterday, where it was decided to prosecute the five civic bodies as there was tremendous pressure on PPCB to check pollution in the state.

The chairman brought to the notice of the Finance Minister that the board was facing staff shortage even when the workload had increased with the passage of time.

No vacant post had been filled for the past about 17 years. He said the employees wanted that the pension scheme be implemented at the earliest.

Mr Bajwa said industrial unit owners felt that the PPCB was harassing them by conducting checks. There would be no need of any checks if they themselves made efforts to control pollution.

The Finance Minister said industry caused the minimum pollution as compared to that caused by civic bodies and the transport sector. In Ludhiana, only about 8 per cent pollution was caused by the industry while the transport sector was responsible for creating about 50 per cent of the pollution.

He asked the PPCB to hold a meeting with the authorities of the Transport Department to find out ways of checking pollution.

Mr Singla said the environment would improve if the civic bodies and village panchayats also took a serious note of the pollution problem and ensured steps to control it.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh, Kharar MLA, said Chandigarh was causing large-scale pollution in Mohali as the wastes of the Union Territory passed though this town. He said the Chandigarh Administration should be given a notice in this regard by the PPCB.

He said noise pollution was also going on unchecked in Mohali. He suggested that the government provide interest-free loans to industry for installing pollution control equipment.

Among others who spoke on the occasion were Ms Usha. R. Sharma, Special Secretary, Science and Technology and Environment, Mr Balbir Singh, president of the Mohali Industries Association, and Mr Vijay Aggarwal, president of the Stone Crushers Association.



No ties with de-addiction centre in Zirakpur: NA
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
In connection with a news item published in Chandigarh Tribune under the headline “Ex-drug addicts join hands against abuse”, the Narcotics Anonymous (NA) today clarified that the was not associated with any outside enterprise, including the rehabilitation centre in Zirakpur.

”The NA is a non-profit, international community-based organisation for recovering addicts active in 113 countries. NA members learn from one another how to live drug-free and recover from the affects of the addiction in their lives,” a statement from the NA said.

”The statements made in the news item are in direct violation of our traditions. The news had blurred the message of the NA, which is the promise of recovery from addiction free of cost to any addict seeking freedom from drugs,” it added.

The NA meetings are held everyday in the city from 6.30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the following addresses: Monday and Friday: Lajpat Rai Bhawan, Sector 15-B; Tuesday: Karuna Sadan, Sector 11-B; Wednesday: Baptist Church, Sector 44-C; Thursday and Sunday: Catholic Church, Sector 19-A; Saturday: Shivalik Public School, Sector 41-C.



Corruption charges against DC’s staff
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
Residents of Colony No 2 and Lal Bahadhur Shastri Colony, Palsora, today levelled charges of corruption against field staff of the office of the Deputy Commissioner who were undertaking the bio-matrix survey in 18 slum areas of the city.

The survey is meant to prepare databank of over 23,000 slum families.

Raising protest against being left out during the survey, the protesters laid a siege outside the DC’s office.

Officials led by the Deputy Commissioner reportedly listened to the grievances of the slum dwellers.

The survey entails taking fingerprints of the beneficiaries, photographs of the allottee and their families apart from other personal details.

Raj Kumar Shukla, who was leading the protesters, said, the survey officials were demanding Rs 600 from those living in the slums and from those who were not living in the colony, the bribe was Rs 5,000.

The dwellers lamented that the surveyors had left out a number of houses in the survey. 



Rally by insurance staff
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
A large number of employees from the four public sector general insurance companies, working in Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali, held a demonstration and rally today.

The employees, affiliated to General Insurance Employees Union, were protesting against the managements of their companies for resumption of promotion exercise with adequate number of vacancies and cut in the casual leave.

They are also demanding that recruitment be allowed to have a core strength in the companies and resolving the issue of fotrced transfers of Class III and IV employees.



Two from city for reality show

Chandigarh, March 30
As Zee TV gets set to identify Business Baazigar, Nandini Hirianniah and Puneet Anand, the chosen ones from the city, are hoping to make it big through the reality show.

Ms Hirianniah has sent a business plan for opening a chain of trendy juice bars.

Mr Anand’s idea is to recycle plastic bottles to make textiler fibre, sleeping bags and insulating material.

Mr Ashish Kaul, Vice-President of Zee TV, here to announce the launch of Business Baazigar, said 20 persons from all over the country had been chosen to participate in the programme.

Two lakh entries had been received and 50 contestants shortlisted, he added. He said the show was being promoted as a part of the corporate social responsibility of the Essel Group. — TNS



Scooter procession from Hussainiwala concludes
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
A procession on scooters under the banner of the Internationalist Democratic Party (IDP), that began from the ‘samadhi’ of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev at Hussainiwala on March 23, concluded at the Matka Chowk here today.

The purpose of the procession was to make the people aware about social problems and their rights.

Mr Kheta Singh, president of the IDP, who led the procession, said the organisation had raised the issues of social security and unemployment while interacting with people on way from Ferozepore to Chandigarh.

He said the week-long procession covered Ferozepore, Faridkot, Bathinda, Mansa, Sangrur and Patiala districts on way to the state capital.

The IDP demanded doubling of old-age pension, unemployment allowance for the unemployed youth on daily wage basis, guaranteed employment to the educated youth, waiving of loans of farmers and farm labourers, free education for poor students in professional colleges, cut in expenditure on defence and spending of the money spared on education and health facilities.



Recruitment rally for airmen begins
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
About 300 candidates appeared for selection as airmen on the first day of a recruitment rally organised by the Air Force for persons hailing from Chandigarh. After initial screening, 100 candidates were found eligible and they would now be required to undergo a written test, interview and medical examination, based upon which a merit list would be drawn up for the final selection.

An IAF officer attributed the relatively low turnout to the fact that recruitment was being done for technical trades only, which required candidates to possess a diploma in specified streams or have studied science subjects up to a particular level.

This is for the first time that the Air Force is organising a recruitment rally exclusively for the youth of Chandigarh.

There were instances of confusion at the recruitment venue, in No.3 Base Repair Depot, when candidates from Paunjab and Haryana also turned up. They were, however, sent away by the recruiting authorities.

The rally is scheduled to continue for the next three days, where candidates for different trades would be screened. The rally is being held by No.1 Airmen’s Selection Centre, Ambala.



Fauji Beat
Should RTI Act apply to Army?

Those who feel that the Right to Information (RTI) Act should be applied to the Army, do not realise that any such action will jeopardise the national security of the country. The Army cannot be compared with the civil organisations because unlike the latter, the former has very little that can be brought under the public gaze.

Most of the information with the Army is of Top Secret, Secret and Restricted nature. As for the operational plans, nothing in writing is sent below a brigade level. The locations of operational units and their moves and tasks can also not be divulged. The same is true in case of the operational discussions, exercise and war games. The intelligence and communication networks are also of a highly sensitive nature. One can keep on adding to this list till you come to a conclusion that very little is left that can be made public.

There is no doubt that information about the Army promotions and denial of these should be made more public so that no eyebrows are raised on the fairness of the decision-makers. Enough information is already being given about reunions, raising days and disciplinary cases.

When the paramilitary forces, the Central Police Forces and the Border Security Force are exempted from the RTI Act, how come the Army, which is a highly sensitive organisation, is being asked to come under this Act?

Animals' medicare

The Remount and Veterinary Corps (RVC) is one of the oldest corps of the Indian Army. Apart from growing manifold in its glorious history of more than two centuries, it has acquired the latest medical facilities to keep the Army horses, mules and dogs in a high state of preparedness.

Its Central Military Veterinary Laboratory at Meerut has been notified as a national referral lab in equine and canine diseases. It is supported by two field veterinary labs, which actively assist it in disease investigation in field areas. It is also working on various collaborative projects with the Departments of Science and Bio-Tech and Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR).

The 14 Mobile field Veterinary Hospital in the North-East is the first such hospital to have established a fully equipped physiotherapy section for the dogs deployed in the counterinsurgency operations. Among the equipment with this section are muscle stimulator and ultra-sound therapy machines, an infra-red lamp and a machine for hot fomentation by steam to cure musculo-skeletal and neuro-muscular disorders. This section also has the paraffin-wax bath facility.

Joint account for pensioners

According to the earlier government orders, the monthly pension was to be credited to the pensioners' account in a bank. It was nearly nine months ago that the pensioners, as covered in our column on August 16, 2005, were allowed to get their pension credited to a joint account of the pensioner and his or her spouse who was entitled to the family pension as per the Pension Payment Order (PPO). This joint account of the pensioner could be operated by the "former or survivor" or by "either or survivor".

Many defence pensioners complain that they have not been able to open joint pension accounts because some the Defence Pension Disbursement Officers (DPDOs) and banks say that they have not received any such instructions.Hony Flt-Lt Jaswant Singh from Mohali is one of the several defence pensioners who have complained about it.

The banks and the DPDOs concerned should contact their head offices to get these instructions, rather than causing unnecessary inconvenience to the pensioners.

Book on Kargil

Gen V.P. Malik's book "Kargil: From Surprise to Victory",is being released on April 27, in New Delhi. Since General Malik was the Chief of the Army Staff during the kargil war, this book should make an interesting reading both for the defence personnel and the public.

— Pritam Bhullar



Bank holiday
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
All commercial banks will remain closed for public transactions on April 1 for the annual closing of accounts, while April 2 being a Sunday, is a holiday for most branches.

Since there is a possibility of a strike at the State Bank of India, there is a possibility of its branches remaining closed on April 3, if the strike called by the staff and officers federations materialises.

The bank has advised its customers to conduct transactions for their urgent needs on March 31, though customers will be able to draw cash from ATMs.



Gita Pustak Mela held
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
In order to propagate the sacred message of Srimad Bhagvadgita the local chapter of Sri Gita Prachar Samiti organised a “Gita Pustak Mela” on the occasion of solar eclipse at Brahm Sarovar, Kurukshetra. This information was given here by Gulati, secretary of the samiti.

Thousands of devotees thronged the mela, that featured several books on religion, including Srimad Bhagvadgita. The samiti had been conducting such programmes in the past to make the people aware of real spiritual knowledge and enable them to get rid of stressful life and attain peace.

Sri Gita Prachar Samiti holds “Gita Pustak Mela” on the occasion of Solar eclipse at Brahm Sarovar, Kurukshetra.



Chief Architect
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
Mr Ambrish Gupta has taken over as the Chief Architect of Punjab.
Mr Gupta holds a master degree with specialisation in town and village planning from IIT, Roorkee. He joined the Punjab Government service in 1979, according to a press note.



Theft in 4 shops
Our Correspondent

Mohali, March 30
Goods worth about Rs 70,000 were allegedly stolen from four shops in Shahi Majra village here last night.
According to information, the thieves allegedly decamped with DVD and CD players, mobile phones and other items from an electronics shop. Two shops dealing in kiryana items were also targeted by the thieves.

They decamped with various items from these shops as well. Some items were also stolen from a paan and bidi shop. The thieves gained entry into the shops after breaking the locks.

Mr Satish Kumar, owner of the electronics shop, said when he went to his shop in the morning, he found the locks missing.

Initially, he thought he had not locked his shop at the time of closing last night but when he entered the premises he found a theft had been committed.

The police is investigating the matter.



Car, mobile stolen
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 30
A car and a motor cycle were today reported stolen from the city. Besides this, in two separate cases the local police arrested two persons for allegedly indulging in gambling.

Mr Kuldeep Singh of Sector 37 lodged a complaint with the police alleging that his Optra car was stolen from his residence on Wednesday. In another incident, Mr Anuj Chowdhary of Sector 39-B reported to the police that his motor cycle was stolen from Kala Gram in Mani Majra on March 27.

Two separate cases of theft have been registered in the Sector 39 and Mani Majra police stations.

Gambling: The local police arrested Ram Sewak of Phase II, Ram Darbar, from near the rehri market in the same locality and Satish, alias Gorkha, of Dadu Majra Colony from near the Government Tubewell in the same colony on Wednesday.

The police recovered Rs 285 and Rs 120 from their possession, respectively.

Two separate cases under the Gambling Act have been registered in this regard.



Traders resent shortage of CST forms
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
Due to the shortage of Central Sales Tax (CST) forms, traders in the city have demanded that amendment in the Central Sales Tax (Registration and Turnover) Rules be made effective from March 31, 2007.

Following the amendment made with effect from October 1, 2005, a purchaser would have to issue four C-forms in a financial year, replacing the earlier provision of a single form. Further, the declaration forms (C), (F), E-I and E-II, would have to be submitted to the prescribed authorities within three months of the end of the relevant quarter.

It was very difficult to collect the blank C and F forms with in a period of three months due to the shortage of these forms, said Mr J.S.Kalra, general secretary of the Chandigarh Beopar Mandal.

Highlighting the problem, advocate Ajay Jagga has represented the issue to the Under Secretary, Government of India, Mr R.G.Chhabra.

Sources in the trade industry informed that the Department of Sales Tax was not in the possession of these forms in abundance and as a result the assesses were not getting the forms in bulk, specially the corporate sector. The affected persons said the present amendment would cause hardships to the registered dealers.

For getting F, E-I and E-II forms, an advance requisition is required that means they are issued after the transaction is completed. In few cases, where 200 c-forms are requested only 30 have been provided on the pretext that there is a shortage of forms.

Meanwhile, the District Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Chandigarh, in a statement issued said any clarification on the issue would be welcomed.



Wi-fi enabled restaurant
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
Food Swings, a hi-tech restaurant in Sector 17 here, claims to be the first wi-fi enabled restaurant in the city and promises to take restaurant culture to the common man.

Promoted by Mr Tonnie Singh of the Komfort Inn, the restaurant has been designed to help customers alter their life, keeping in mind their emotions and eating habits.

You need a healthy relationship between your emotions and eating habits to remain fit, he says.

Food Swings shows you how to eradicate bad eating habits and replace those with the favourable ones, he adds.

He claims that the Food Swings will offer affordable prices to suit every pocket.

It will gradually introduce health foods, which will be light to eat and easy to digest, for health-conscious people, he says.


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