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High Court restrains Mohali MC
Recovery of hiked water, sewerage charges
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 4
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today restrained the Punjab Government and the Municipal Council, Mohali, from recovering enhanced rates of water and sewerage charges from consumers in Mohali.

As per its notification dated May 2, 2003, the Government of Punjab had directed all civic bodies in the state to charge a flat rate for water and sewerage. However, the Municipal Council, Mohali had refused to accept the government directive on the plea that it would put unnecessary burden on the residents of the township.

In many resolutions passed by the General House of the MC, Mohali, the councillors sought reversion to old rates. At a meeting held on August 27, 2003, councillors unanimously resolved that the new rates would cause harassment to the public. They also resolved to keep the issue of introduction of flat rates pending.

Later, through another resolution, the government was requested to reconsider its decision. However, following pressure from the government, the MC, on July 29, 2003, adopted the new rates and resolved that these would be implemented with effect from August 1, 2005.

However, the councillors again had a change of heart and on October 18, 2005, passed another resolution, this one saying that the earlier resolution through which the new rates had been ordered to be implemented was wrong and the same was recalled.

But, the government refused to relent and the Deputy Commissioner, through an order under the Section 236 of the Punjab Municipal Act, ordered the implementation of the new rates. It also suspended the resolution passed by the MC on October 18, 2005.

The government diktat was challenged in the High Court by Mr Manjit Singh, Mr Manmohan Singh Lang, both councillors, Mr Maninder Pal Singh Billa, former president of the MC, Mohali, and others.

In their petition, they have stated that the government did not have the power to direct the civic bodies to charge flat rates for water and sewerage from the consumers. They have also questioned the government order suspending the resolution, saying that the Deputy Commissioner issued the order under Section 236 of the Punjab Municipal Act as the Section could have been invoked only if the MC resolution was unlawful.

The petitioners have also stated that the government can only interfere if the issue involved related to tax.

After hearing the petitioners’ counsel Rajesh Kumar Gumber, the Bench of Mr Justice M.M. Kumar and Mr Justice T.P.S. Mann also restrained the government and the civic body from recovering any arrears from the consumers. Thereafter, the Bench admitted the writ for further hearing.



SBI strike continues; ATM services hit
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
As a number of ATMs of the State Bank of India and its associate banks across the tri-city have run out of money on the second day of the strike, the management today waived off transaction charges levied on its customers for availing ATM facilities through other banks with whom the SBI has bilateral arrangements.

An SBI ATM in Sector 17 here and another one in Panjab University reportedly went out of money today. Certain private banks, which have bilateral arrangements with the SBI, have imposed ceilings on the maximum limit that can be withdrawn through the ATMs.

An ATM in Mohali went out of money yesterday. Rush was witnessed in other associate banks of the SBI — the State Bank of Patiala, the State Bank of Travancore and the State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur. There are 32 ATMs of the SBI in the tri-city and a sum of Rs 4.75 crore was loaded in the ATMs before the strike.

With the ATMs running out of money, the bank management has asked customers to avail of the ATM facility of associate banks and the banks with whom the SBI has bilateral arrangements like the HDFC, UTI Bank, IndusInd Bank, Corporation Bank, Indian Bank, Andhra Bank, Dena Bank, UCO Bank and Punjab National Bank. The usual charges otherwise levied under the bilateral arrangements (Rs 20 per transaction) in these banks will be waived/refunded for the transactions made during the strike.

Since the SBI is the treasury of the Punjab and Haryana Governments, the Chandigarh Administration and the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation, employees having an ATM facility are now withdrawing their salaries, but the others have been left high and dry.

Said Mr Chandi Ram, an employee with the Haryana Government: “This is the time when you need more money for school fees. Besides, other important monthly expenditures have to be paid.”

Left with no alternative, the UT Administration has now written to the Reserve Bank of India to make alternate arrangements for the disbursal of salary to its employees through a bank other than the SBI, confirmed Mr S.K. Sandhu, Finance Secretary, Chandigarh.

A large number of pensioners, including ex-servicemen, who get their pension from the SBI, too, are feeling the heat.

Mr Amarpal, all-India president, SBI Officers Federation, said though they regretted the inconvenience caused to its customers due to the strike, they were left with no alternative in order to get their just demands fulfilled.

Meanwhile, the joint forum of the SBIs Employees and Officers Associations, continued with the strike on the second day today. They staged a dharna outside the SBI office in Sector 17 and demanded a revision in their monthly pension and family pension.



Cop’s wireless set snatched
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 4
A Chandigarh Police cop became the victim of snatching in broad daylight today. At least seven youngsters who were in a sports utility vehicle (SUV) without a number plate snatched the wireless set of a Head Constable when he asked them to stop at the busy Piccadilly Chowk.

Though the youngsters have not been nabbed as yet, the wireless set was recovered by the cops, later in the day after it was found by a group of children playing near the road dividing Sector 19 and 20.

Sources in the Sector 36 police station said a case of obstructing a government officer from discharging his duties and snatching under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code had been registered in this regard.

Giving details the sources said the incident took place at around 10.45 am when a Constable of Chandigarh Traffic Police noticed a Toyota Innova SUV without a number plate at the Piccadilly Chowk and signalled it to stop.

The vehicle was coming from the Labour Chowk side. The occupants of the vehicle slowed down the vehicle and another cop, Head Constable Sarvan Singh, went to the middle of the road to stop the vehicle. But the driver of the SUV did not stop his vehicle, and on coming near the cop, one of the occupants of the vehicle snatched the wireless set of the Head Constable and sped away. Stunned at this, the cop raised an alarm, but in vain as the miscreants managed to vanish in thin air.

Afterwards the Head Constable called the traffic police helpline at 1073 and informed about the incident. Soon the matter was flashed to the Police Control Room (PCR) vehicles, but to no avail.

The Station House Officer (SHO) of Sector 36 police station, Inspector Ishwar Singh Mann, said efforts were afoot to trace the miscreants. He added that a group of children who were playing near the road dividing Sectors 19 and 20, found the instrument lying on the ground. They informed a nearby PCR vehicle.



Property to cost more in Zirakpur, Dera Bassi
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Dera Bassi, April 4
At a time when there is a recession in the real estate market, property transactions are going to cost more in Dera Bassi subdivision following a steep hike in the collectorate rates(official land registration rates).

The decision, which has been taken by the district administration at the recommendation of the local administration, will have a major impact on the property transactions in the area with the government being the major beneficiary.This will mean that the property buyers will have to shell out more for the property as the registration charges will go up.

Official sources said the revision in the collectorate rates had been necessitated on account of the recent spurt in the property prices. Keeping in view the huge gap between the collectorate rates and the market rates, a lot of black money was in circulation in the property transactions.

According to the new rates, the residential property will be registered at a rate of Rs 3,500 per square yard instead of the current rate of Rs 2,500 at Zirakpur. Similarly, the new rate for the commercial property will be Rs 9,000 per square yard instead of Rs 5,000.The official rate for an acre of land has been hiked to Rs 60 lakh from Rs 50 lakh.

And in the fast-emerging township of Dera Bassi, the residential rate has gone up to Rs 1,800 from Rs 1,500 per square yard. The persons buying the commercial property will now have to shell out Rs 4,000 per square yard. The current rate is Rs 3,000. The official rate for an acre of land has been increased from Rs 40 lakh to Rs 45 lakh, the sources added.

While the buyers paid a major portion their total transaction in black money, the state exchequer was the loser as it received less stamp duty. The increase in the rates tries to address this anomaly between the official land registration rate and the market rate of property, the sources highlighted.

Meanwhile, Mr Suresh Gupta and Bhupinder Saini, president and general secretary of the Dera Bassi Property Dealers Association, have condemned the hike alleging that it will lead to recession in the real estate market.



Blinded ex-serviceman awaits benefits
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
Over 40 years after he was blinded in a blast while laying mines along the Indo-Pak border, a 75-year-old ex-serviceman, Kaka Singh, is still awaiting his promised benefits. As the world observes the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action today, a large number of landmine victims in India and abroad seem to be living a forgotten existence.

Suffering serious disabilities, in many cases loss of limbs, victims and their families are struggling to make their ends meet. Injuries from mine, often referred to as the invisible killers, have drastically reduced their changes for employment and earning a livelihood. Kaka claims that he was promised 30 acres of land and Rs 1 lakh in the aftermath of the 1965 Indo-Pak war. Though he was discharged from service with 100 per cent disability with loss on vision in both eyes, his fight had begun way back in 1966.

While he was still undergoing treatment, he was given a letter by Army authorities, addressed to the Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, for allotment of 30 acres land and payment of Rs 1 lakh.

He met the DC and Officer Zila Sainik Board (ZSB), Ropar, personally and got verbal assurances, but al he was paid was just Rs 2,000.

What is surprising to him is that land records at Ropar show that he had been allotted 6 acres in 1970, though he has never seen any paper of letter to this effect or knows about the land’s location. He admits that in 1976 he had purchased 10 acres in an open auction, for which he has been paying requisite installments.

He met various political leaders, including late Indira Gandhi and late Giani Zail Singh as well as government and defence officials on the matter, but to no use.

Even last year he had sent a representation to the Defence Minister and Army Headquarters. More recently, there were hundreds of casualties, including military personnel as well as civilians who had died or were injured in mine accidents along the Indo-Pak border during Operation Parakram in 2002 and the subsequent de-mining operations. The fatal casualties included about a 100 soldiers along the 1100-km stretch which was mined.

The Defence Ministry had approved about Rs 3 crore as ex gratia payment to landmine casualties in Punjab and parts of Rajasthan which were then under the territorial jurisdiction of Western Command. The amount ranges from a maximum of Rs 2.5 lakh for fatal casualties to Rs 1 lakh to the injured, depending upon the degree of disability as certified by district medical officers. According to information released earlier by the Army, 89 civilians in these two states had lost their limbs.



High-tech Ram Lila to be staged tomorrow
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
Even devotees have to take technology’s help for generating interest in epics among the masses these days.

If you are having any doubts, read this religiously: Concerned over the declining number of residents sitting through Ram Lila every year in Chandigarh, city-based Raghav Films has decided to stage “high-tech” version of the great India epic at Nehru Park in Sector 22 on Thursday.

For the first time, perhaps, in Chandigarh’s Ram Lila history, Lord Hanuman — with all his clout — will actually fly over the stage for helping Lord Rama rescue Sita from Ravana’s clutches.

This is not all. Instead of flashes of inspiration, and light, fire whizzing down the line in a huff will dazzle the onlookers as Sita crosses the Lakshaman rekha. Every time someone is killed in action, the organisers will create ripples by showing the arrow piercing the body dramatically.

Besides out-of-the-ordinary effects, the dialogues will be pre-recorded to avoid last second faux pas.

“Special emphasis is being given to the sound quality and stage lighting for making the production a success,” says Raghav Film’s owner Davinder Kumar Grover.

He admits: “Spending something like Rs 1.5 lakh on making Ram Lila ‘high-tech’ just to revive the fascination for the epic among the general public.”

“People do come to watch Ram Lila. But so many of them are just casual wanderers. Others do not sit through the entire play. For, hectic day-to-day routine leaves them will little time and inclination to leave the comfort of their houses and watch the show. On the other hand, we want to give the real gods their due in the age of Parvatis and Tulsis. That’s the reason why we are taking technology’s help in the days of MP3, DVDs and I Pods.”

Grover clarifies that they will not be dramatising things, but presenting the scenes as illustrated in the epic.

“Ramanand Sagar has deployed expertise to present the story realistically on the small in his serial Ramayana. We are doing the same on the stage,” he asserts.

“We will wind up the entire show in two hours to make the epic economical, time-wise.”

Just in case, you are wondering why Ram Lila is being performed at this time of the year, Grover says: “We are staging the epic to commemorate Ram Navmi or Lord Rama’s birthday. This is basically a preview and will help us in judging the people’s response, besides overcoming the shortcomings. After this, we will be presenting the epic in different parts of the country. The action does not end here. We will repeated the performance nine nights before Dasehra as well.”



Pkl to get 1st private colony
Tribune News Service

Sanjeev Jain
Sanjeev Jain

Chandigarh, April 4
Panchkula will soon get its first private colony. Leading real estate developers in the country, Parasvnath Developers, has acquired over seven acres of land in Sector 20 here, and will soon construct state of art apartments here.

Talking to TNS here today, Mr Sanjeev Jain, Managing Director of Parasvnath Developers, said they had obtained a change in land use (from agricultural to residential) for a 7. 3 acre piece of land, from the Department of Town and Country Planning, Haryana, and the construction of a group housing society would begin soon.

"We propose to construct 350 apartments, which will be completely air conditioned, with full power back up. These will have Wi Fi, piped gasline, a health club, swimming pool etc. Keeping in mind today's real estate market, each apartment (1650 - 1750 square feet area) will be priced at Rs 55 lakh," he said. Justifying the high price kept for the apartments, Mr Jain added that the quality of constructions and value added services provided by them would be unmatched in the region.

Speaking about the other projects, Mr Jain said they had already started work on developing two integrated townships at Rajpura (on 125 acres on the GT Road) and Mubarikpur (50 acres) in Dera Bassi. "During this year, we propose to start work on a mall and multiplexes in Amritsar and another integrated township in Malerkotla. Besides, we are developing a mall, three screen multiplex and business hotel in Phase VIII B of Mohali" he added.



Demolition of old structure resented
Our Correspondent

Mohali, April 4
Resentment prevails among residents of Lambian village against the demolition of a very old structure by PUDA officials in the village last night.

A number of residents of the village gathered at the demolition site here today to gherao PUDA vehicles when these came near the demolished site to remove the malba. However, PUDA officials did not visit the area fearing some protest.

Mr Balak Ram, president of the Pind Sudhar Committee, said PUDA had demolished a religious structure which existed in the area over the past about 200 years. The enforcement team came around 8 pm and quietly demolished the structure hurting the religious sentiments of a large number of residents.

He demanded that the PUDA authorities should get the structure reconstructed failing which they would be compelled to launch an agitation.

Mr Yashvir Mahajan, Additional Chief Administrator, PUDA, said the enforcement team had not demolished any religious structure, but only a small structure which existed in the land acquired by PUDA and as such was an encroachment.



Rs 6 lakh grant for Kerala Bhavan
Tribune News Service

Mohali, April 4
Grant for the Kerala Bhavan in Mohali was released today at a function held at Sector 65 in the plot allotted to the Malayalee Samajam, Mohali, in the presence of a large number of Keralites.

The grant of Rs 6 lakh from the Government of Punjab was handed over to the president of the Samajam, Mr Benny Thomas, by Mr Bir Devinder Singh, MLA, Kharar.

Speaking on the occasion Mr Bir Devinder Singh lauded the importance of such voluntary social organisations and said Kerala Bhawan should become a unique landmark in Punjab aiming at the furtherance of the commitment of the Malayalee Samajam, Mohali.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh also reviewed the progress of the ongoing construction work of the building and congratulated members of the Malayalaee Samajam ‘‘for their efforts in bringing up such a set up in Mohali for the first time’’.

‘‘Kerala Bhavan has been planned with integrated facilities that an organisation of this class should have. Ground floor of the building will have an auditorium with a seating capacity of over 550 with a stage and associated green rooms. The first floor would have one big conference hall and rooms for various cultural and literary activities like music and dance classes, library and office room. Approximate construction cost of the fully finished (ground and first floor) building shall be Rs 65 lakh. One main feature of the bhavan will be an exhaustive library having literary works of both Malayalam and Punjabi writers. It will also have books in all other Indian and international languages on art, literature, culture and civilization other than the books on current affairs’’, briefed Mr Thomas.



Dr Ram Parkash felicitated
Our Correspondent

Panchkula, April 4
Office-bearers of the new working committee of the Haryana Pardesh Congress Party has been finalised and will be announced shortly. This was disclosed by Dr Ram Parkash , working president of the HPCC.

He was speaking at a felicitation ceremony organised in his honour by Kunwar Amitabh Chandel which was attended by prominent citizens, Congress leaders and workers at Fort Ramgarh here today.

Welcoming Dr Prakash on his maiden visit to Ramgarh, Amitabh, senior vice-president, Haryana Youth Congress, lauded the progress made by the government under the dynamic leadership of Dr Parkash and Bhupinder Singh Hooda.

Amitabh, however, presented a demand charter highlighting the problems of residents of Ramgarh and vicinity which included sanitation, provision of water supply, provision of land for rehabilitation. Their land had been acquired by HUDA, Panchkula.

The town has no cremation ground, rued Amitabh. President, Punjab Youth Congress H.S. Awla, Tikka Amar Chandel, bureaucrat Robin Gupta and local leaders were present. Earlier, talking to mediapersons, Dr Parkash grilled the NDA leaders for opting double standards in the office of profit case and related issues.



Fiji Mayor visits city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
Dr Pradeep Singh, Mayor of Labasa, Fiji, visited the Municipal Corporation, Chandigarh, today. Dr Pradeep Singh met with Mr Surinder Singh, Mayor, Mr P.S. Aujla, Municipal Commissioner, and municipal councillors.

The visiting Mayor was given a brief introduction of the working of the local MC. Dr Pradeep Singh explained the working of the local bodies of the MC in Labasa and also presented a booklet and a CD about the functioning of the MC to the Mayor.

Dr Pradeep Singh has his roots in Chandigarh itself. A former student of New Public School, Sector 18, he did his B. Sc from Khalsa College, Sector 26. After completing his higher studies at Ranchi, Bihar, he shifted to Labasa in 1986.

He is on a private visit to the city to meet his brother.

Talking to the media, Dr Pardeep Singh informed that 40 per cent of the population of Labasa comprised Indians. However, there are only a handful of Punjabis. “The Mayor of Labasa is usually an Indian,” he said. Dr Pradeep Singh has been the Mayor since 1998. 



Sanghi embroiled in controversy
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
Another controversy seems to have surrounded councillor P.C. Sanghi, with a Sector 21-based sweet shop owner levelling allegations against him of misusing his position as a councillor.

Lamber Singh of Doaba Sweets in Sector 21 in a letter submitted to the Commissioner, Mr Aujla, today has alleged that the councillor has been misusing his power ever since he has been nominated as a councillor by the Governor.

Talking to TNS he alleged that Mr Sanghi had left no occasion to demand all kinds of favours.

However, when contacted, Mr Sanghi said these allegations were baseless. He further said the sweets shop owner had encroached upon the open space outside his shop and the MCC had recently removed it.

The allegations he said were in retaliation to that.

Meanwhile, officials at the MCC stated that as the letter was not anonymous they would investigate into the matter and verify the facts.



Gandotra resigns from Chandigarh Club
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
Capt Sanjiv Gandotra has tendered his resignation from the executive of the Chandigarh Club in a letter addressed to the president here today.

Captain Gandotra said, "I consider it futile to continue on a governing body which does not act in a transparent manner and also fails to act on reports and recommendations submitted by a committee to probe financial irregularities."

"Practice of preferential treatment to a select few continues unabated. Well, there are many things communicated to you in my earlier correspondence for the betterment of the club and its members which have gone unheeded. Therefore, I find it appropriate to tender my resignation", the letter added.



Accomplices in petrol station robbery bid identified
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 4
The Chandigarh Police today claimed that the Sector 44 petrol station robbery in February this year was committed by the same gang which attempted to rob a petrol station in Sector 52 last week. The police also claimed to have identified the two other accomplices involved in the crime following sustained interrogation of the person who was nabbed by the petrol station employees.

While sharing this information the Deputy Superintendent of Chandigarh Police (DSP) (South), Mr K.I.P Singh, said during interrogation Ajay Shastri, who was nabbed by the petrol station employees on March 31, disclosed that his real name was Ajay Pal and he belonged to Sahanpur village in Bissoully district in Uttar Pradesh (UP). He also disclosed the names of his accomplices as 24-year-old Raju of Mahangupur in Gonda district, who was residing at 2526/1 Phase VII, Mohali, and was working as a domestic help. His other associate, John Singh, alias John (20), hailed from the native village of Ajay. The local police conducted the raids at the addresses given above and other suspected hideouts of his accomplices but they could not be traced.

The DSP further added that Ajay Pal also confessed that he along with Raju and John had committed a robbery at the Sector 44 petrol station on the night of February 5. The DSP said different police parties had been conducting raids at several suspected hideouts of the accused, including in Mohali, Sherampur village, Civil Lines Muradabad, and other parts of UP, to nab Raju and John.

The police has managed to secure a photograph of Raju. The police said the employees of the Sector 44 petrol station have identified Ajay as one of the persons involved in a robbery bid at their petrol station on that night. The police is hopeful of finding more details of crimes committed by this gang in or around the city during further interrogation.



Car, motor cycle stolen
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 4
A car and a motorcycle were stolen from the city. Besides this, a house was burgled in Sector 41.

Mr Rajesh Kumar Gupta of Sector 21-D reported to the police and alleged that his Maruti car was stolen from the CITCO parking lot in Sector 17 yesterday.

In another incident, Mr Tej Bahadur of Sector 21 lodged a complaint with the police and alleged that his Yamaha motor cycle was stolen from the commercial complex in Sector 34 yesterday.

Two separate cases of theft have been registered in this regard.

House burgled

Mr Om Prakash of Sector 41-C filed a complaint with the police and alleged that a TV and a camera were stolen from his residence. A case has been registered.



Riding the novelty wave
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
The countdown for success has begun and the contenders are itching to go. As the finalists of Zee TV's "Business Baazigar" which promises to reverse the fortunes of those who can think "aloud and apart", Puneet Anand and Nandini Hirianniah have reasons to soar.

So when they came in for a formal introduction this afternoon, they were already soaring high, with business novelty perched firmly by their side. The announcement of their selection as 20 all-India finalists may be old, but their public appearance was something new.

Eager to share their histories and their chance acquaintance with "Business Baazigar", they rolled on, with Puneet Anand taking the lead. As the Chief Operations Officer of Global Infosystems, he spoke of environment-conscious management through recycling of PET bottles — something he admitted Europe had already mastered.

So what's so innovative about the project? "Well, the conception of it and its very entry into India where environment consciousness is the last thing on people's minds," said a young Anand, who has a degree in business administration from Muzaffarnagar. PET bottles can be preserved and consumers can be mobilised to give back used bottles that can then be subjected to processing formalities to yield fine products like sleeping bags.

"The initial cost of the project will be Rs 3 crore, and I hope to get the project funded by winning the contest," said Anand, who has been handling scrap management for his existing company. Interestingly, Anand had tried mobilising finance for this project through credit lending agencies like banks, but he failed.

"Business Baazigar" came as a breather, and it has been good to work on the project and see it enlisted as a prospective winner," the young COO wrapped up, handing over the stage to Nandini Hirianniah who sounded confident but not novel, to begin with.

She intends to spare juice lovers the pain of consuming unhygienic drinks at roadside vends. But she might consider conducting a market survey to assure her of the prevalence of "hygienic juice vends in India". She has been in the US for a while and a reality check in India might be of help.

But the vibrant social worker from Bangalore, who is also in charge of Madhouse here, says, "I have hardly come across a clean, hygienic place that prepares juices keeping the nutrients intact. I want to diversify into fruit as well as vegetable juices. But my topmost priority is opening a chain of lively juice bars that will redefine the market dynamics. The initial cost would be Rs 80 lakh," says Hirianniah, who obviously found favour with Zee which has shortlisted her project among the final 20.

Whatever the results, the finalists know they must keep thinking hard lest their business acumen fails them.


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