C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Over 200 industrial units face resumption
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
More than 200 units in the Industrial Area of the city face resumption because of altering the use of the industrial plots without permission and not paying the conversion charges. The Land Acquisition Officer has served a notice to explain why "the lease of the site be not cancelled and 10 per cent premium of the site and ground rent be not forfeited".

Industrialists fear that the exercise has been initiated because of the failure of the administration in evoking any substantial response to its "much publicised" conversion policy. It has been pointed out that the administration had assured them that no notices would be given for at least two years till the validity of the policy to give them sufficient time to convert their trade.

It is worth pointing out that a survey in 2003-04 had indicated that 45 per cent of the units in industrial area had either closed down or had shifted to other trade. It was also pointed out that at least 163 units were running business "illegally," which means not the business originally opted for by them.

Sources in the Land Acquisition Office said that the notices had been served as part of the exercise to ensure proper utilisation of the industrial plots as per the bylaws. "The industrialists can present their version of the case during the hearing which will also have the administration's side. We shall decide accordingly", a senior officer said.

The notice says that "in event of the continuance of the misuse, the occupier or the owner will be liable to pay monthly charges from the date of issue of the notice till the removal of the misuse as a residential or commercial premises" engaged in alternate trade. The rates have been fixed separately for the partial, complete, ground, first floor and the open space areas in the plots.

Industrialists pointed out that the administration had recently announced allowing conversion of trade for all the commercial establishments in the city, except the Industrial Area. Over the years a number of industries, particularly in the the ancillary and certain other trades, had closed down. They are demanding conversion on the similar lines as in the city.

Mr M.P.S.Chawla, president of the Chandigarh Industrial Association, said:"We have had meetings with the senior UT officials and have received positive indication for a lenient view to accommodate the view of the industrialists. The needs of the industry have changed tallying with the changing demands of the changing times. The administration needs to understand the issue in a new perspective. I met Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, the local Member of Parliament, along with a delegation of 200 industrialists, recently. He has assured us to take up the matter at the higher level of the administration."

Mr Chawla said: "In case the administration made certain relaxations for the local industrialists, the conversion can be a major success. The entire policy needs a relook to attract more people for participation in its success. Till date, the administration has not received response from even five industrialists who would be constituting a committee for recommending the future growth of the area."



Post-Meerut fire, Governor calls for safety steps
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
To ensure that Meerut-type incident is not repeated in Chandigarh, the Administrator, UT, Gen S.F. Rodrigues, today asked the senior officers of the Chandigarh Administration to implement the Fire Safety Act strictly. Interestingly, the post of Chief Fire Officer, who can rightfully implement these orders, has been lying vacant in the city for the past two years.

The last Chief Fire Officer in the city was Mr G.S. Bajwa, who retired in 2004. Ever since then the post has been lying vacant. Officials state that despite asking for names from Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and even Delhi to fill the post, nobody has been found suitable.

Moreover, the Fire Safety Department too is not fully equipped and it is acquiring new equipment. Besides, it is computerising data to keep a record of fire incidents in the city.

Meanwhile, the ongoing Chandigarh shopping fair in the parade ground saw fewer visitors today. The organisers and the authorities concerned, however, seemed to have taken all fire safety measures with a fire engine present at the venue.

Talking to Chandigarh Tribune, Mr Sandeep Chabbra, organiser of the fair, informed that they had ensured all exit points remain open and no stalls blocked them. Besides a fire engine, other basic fire fighting equipment was also present at the venue. Moreover, the material used for putting up pandals was fire proof. “We have ensured full safety,” he stated.

While the fair organisers may have taken all fire safety measures, the city is not immune to a major fire incident happening. A few days ago a major fire gutted 43 jhuggis in Colony No.5. Last year too a fire in Sector 18 rehri market had caused heavy losses. The presence of rehri markets in almost all sectors also posed a constant threat of a fire breakout.

Major buildings in the city too do not observe fire safety measures, putting the lives of people visiting there in danger. A recent example is the fire in the business arcade of Hotel Shivalik View. Panjab University too has been served notices recently, but it continues to flout the fire safety rules.

Meanwhile, expressing profound grief over the loss of life and property in the tragic fire incident at Meerut last evening. General Rodrigues has offered all medical assistance to the affected people in Chandigarh hospitals.

He also asked the managements of schools, hospitals and other public utility services to evolve effective internal mechanisms for fire fighting as part of good safety management.



One held for setting jeep afire
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 11
The Chandigarh Police today arrested a Sector 43 resident on the charges of setting a jeep on fire by hurling a petrol bomb in Sector 35 on Sunday last. The police has identified the other two accused. However, they are still at large.

The SHO of Sector 36 police station said Kunal Rana, alias Sunny, of Sector 43-B, and his other two accomplices Mukesh, alias Mikka of Sector 24, and Harinder Singh Dhillon of Patiala were involved in the incident. He added police parties had been dispatched to various places to arrest the two others.

It may be recalled that on Sunday evening, the accused had set the jeep belonging to Shamsher Singh on fire in retaliation by hurling a petrol bomb on it. Shamsher Singh, a BA final year student of SD College, had suffered 20 per cent burns. He was admitted to the Sector 16 General Hospital.

The SHO added that Shamsher told the police that his friend Ripudaman had borrowed his jeep on Saturday. Ripudaman had an altercation with some boys and he allegedly thrashed one of them. On Sunday, the other group noticed his jeep and they hurled a petrol bomb on it setting it on fire. 



Power wing to revamp complaint redress system
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
The electricity wing of the engineering department of the Chandigarh Administration will undertake a complete revamp of its complaint redress system.

This was decided at a meeting held here today under the chairmanship of Engineering Secretary S.K.Sandhu, in which the Chief Engineer and all officers of the electricity wing were present. According to a press note, delayed redressal of consumer complaints was one cause of increasing court cases and hence, the electricity wing, besides ensuring uninterrupted power supply in the city, would respond to and redress promptly billing-related complaints.

It was decided at the meeting that all billing-related complaints would be addressed to the SDO of the area concerned, who would look into the complaints without marking those to his subordinate staff and redress the complaints within three days.

The consumer could approach the Executive Engineer concerned after three days and the Superintending Engineer after seven days.

If the complaint still remained unresolved, the consumer could meet the Chief Engineer. It was also decided that consumers should be made aware of departmental dispute settlement committees, which had been constituted for consumers not satisfied with responses of SDOs to billing-related complaints.

It was decided to provide SDOs with personal computers to facilitate SDOs in prompt redressal of complaints and the computers would be networked so that all billing details of consumers were available online.

Court cases were reviewed at the meeting and it was found during discussions that out of the 76 cases decided during the past one year, 52 had been decided in favour of the department.



Ground floor residents back to encroaching land
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
Encroachment on public land in front of flats at Modern Housing Complex in Mani Majra has surfaced again due to the apathy of the Chandigarh Housing Board.

A few days after the board’s anti-encroachment drive to remove unauthorised occupation of vacant spaces adjoining ground floor flats, occupants of ground floor flats have started fencing open spaces again in the name of maintaining gardens and mild steel railings have been erected.

This has been causing difficulty to occupants of first, second and third floor flats in parking vehicles.

Residents affected lament that they are forced to park vehicles on main roads and the space provided by the board for parking is not adequate. Though the board has issued notices to residents who have opened gates on the rear of houses, no action has been initiated by board officials.

This encroachment has led to an increase in the number of accidents near corner flats.

Sources in the board say the problem has arisen due to differences between it and the municipal corporation.

The maintenance of the complex is with the board, but the area belongs to the corporation and sanitation and water supply is with the corporation.



Open Source Software may revolutionise computer teaching
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
It is indeed a strange world when educators need to be convinced that sharing information, as opposed to concealing information, is a good thing, believes Prof Ravinder Singla. Working on Open Source Software at the Department of Computer Sciences, Panjab University here, Prof Singla says this is also the basic premise on which Open Source Software (OSS) works. The more you share the better it is, the more inputs you gather the more superior would OSS run.

“Linux is the best example of an OSS and I have reasons to believe that if put to use in teaching, OSS can revolutionise the education system,” he said. Prof Singla’s findings on this issue would be part of the next issue of the Panjab University Science Research Journal to be released shortly.

“The paper looks at open source, a new model of software development that brings billions of developers into a collaborative productive community and provides an introduction to OSS in the context of higher education. It is intended to provide the basis for developing some shared understandings about what OSS is, its benefits, its limitations and it provides description of popular open source licences common to educational applications,” he added.

“In most educational institutes, the software in use on computers is closed and locked, making educators partners in censorship of the foundational information of this new age. This software not only seeks to obscure how it works but it also entraps the users data within closed proprietary formats which change on the whims of the vendor and which are protected by the bludgeon of the end user licence agreement.

This entrapment of data is a strong punitive incentive to purchase the latest version of the software regardless of whether it suits the educational purposes better, thereby siphoning more of the institute’s limited resources. The use of such closed software in education may be justified only when no suitable open source solution exists,” he said.

Prof Singla further points out that the choice of software in an educational environment is based upon a range of issues much of which involves weighing the risks against the benefits about the purposes to which the software is to be put. Open Source Software provides a concrete way of developing open standards. Rather than making open standards theoretical exercises OSS provides the practical means for determining these standards.

“OSS can serve as a channel strategy and technology to teach and learn computer science. OSS has the potential to expand group beyond the classroom to include much larger projects and more distributed teams. OSS can also be used to introduce our students to the larger computer science community and to the practice of peer-review.

Finally OSS can provide us with free or lower cost technology in the classroom permitting us to use technology that we might otherwise be unable to afford,” said Prof Singla.



Cong leader’s charge on OSD’s photograph
Our Correspondent

Mohali, April 11
The president of the local Block Congress Committee, Mr Kuljeet Singh Bedi, today alleged that some persons having political links had cut the photograph of Mrs Lakhwinder Kaur Garcha, OSD to the Punjab Chief Minister, from hoardings that had been put up at various places in the town.

In a press note Mr Bedi said after Mohali was given the status of a district, supporters of Mrs Garcha had put up hoardings to thank the Punjab Chief Minister in this regard.

The hoardings had the photographs of Mrs Sonia Gandhi, Dr Manmohan Singh, Capt Amarinder Singh and Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo on the top while a photograph of Mrs Garcha was there on the lower part of the hoardings. Mr Bedi alleged that the photograph of the OSD had been deliberately cut from there by some political rivals.

Mr Bedi said he and a number of others leaders condemned this act. He said such activities would not reduce the popularity of Mrs Garcha.



Summer brings python out of hibernation
Vishal Gulati
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
Come summers and the Indian python in the Mahendra Chaudhary Zoological Park, Chhatbir, is out of hibernation. During winter the python was “admitted” to the veterinary hospital in the zoo. Now with the rise in temperature, it was shifted to its cage last week.

While in hospital the python was kept under thermo-regulation conditions. A special wooden box was made for the 9-foot-long python with a blanket as it’s bedding.

A round-the-clock heat convector was installed near its box so that it can hibernate naturally in the chilly weather.

In nature where weather is hot and humid the python is active throughout the year, while in temperate areas it spends winter hibernating in burrows, rock cavities and logs. During hibernation it is almost somnolent and, therefore, hunts rarely.

The python is a non-venomous snake that kills its prey by squeezing. It is a predator that ambushes and strikes the prey suddenly. It swallows its prey whole and takes several days or even weeks to digest it. It has heat sensory pits to help it locate the prey.

Although most pythons feed on small birds and mammals, some large species can kill even small pigs and goats.

Says Dr Nirmaljit Singh, Veterinary Officer: “For the past three years the female python has been hibernating successfully. During hibernation its metabolism slows down, so the food is given twice a month. In this season it needs food every week”.

Mr Neeraj Gupta, Wildlife Warden, Chhatbir, says special precautions are being taken while handling the 22-kg reptile. It can even injure a man with its muscular power.

The Divisional Forest Officer, Ludhiana, had seized the python from Shankar Samrat on September 13, 2003. Since then it has been part of the zoo family.



Power cuts irk residents
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, April 11
With the summer setting in, certain colonies in the township are already facing a power crisis.

Residents of the Shaheed Flt-Lt Bharat Sharma Preet Vihar Welfare Association, Baltana, in a representation, said power cuts were putting residents to inconvenience.

Though Mr Hardyal Singh Kamboj, a member of the Punjab State Electricity Board, had announced the installation of a substation at Dhakauli about six months back, nothing had been done so far, the representation alleged.

Similarly, the proposal to lay Phase III electricity lines in the Preet Vihar here had been hanging fire for a long time, it added.

The situation in the colonies adjoining the Preet Vihar was equally bad, it added.



Canter driver hurt in mishap
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 11
The driver of a Baddi-bound canter was injured when a truck coming from the opposite direction collided head-on with the vehicle on the busy Panchkula-Naraingarh highway, near Ramgarh, this evening.

According to the police, Zameel, the canter driver was admitted to General Hospital, Sector 6. The police has registered a case and further investigations are on.



Train late by over 4 hrs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
The Howrah-Kalka (2311) train arrived more than four hours-and-a-half behind its scheduled time of arrival today.

The train, which was scheduled to arrive at 4 am, arrived at 8:30 am.

Yesterday too, the train was late by over 12 hours and arrived around 4 pm.

Railways officials said the delay was due to Naxalite disturbances in the Dhanbad stretch.



Man commits suicide
Our Correspondent

Mohali, April 11
One person allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself from a mango tree in Phase VIII . His body was recovered by the police today .

According to information available, a resident of Kumbra village who happened to pass from near the secluded place near Yadavindra Public School saw the body hanging. He then informed the police.

Mr Tarlochan Singh, SHO of the Phase VIII police station , said that the body was removed from the tree and sent for a postmortem examination to the local Civil Hospital.

He said that a suicide note was recovered from the body according to which the deceased was Sada Nanda Karmakar . The note further said that the deceased himself wanted to commit suicide and nobody had compelled him to do so .

The SHO said that Karmakar used to a nylon rope to take the extreme step . He first climbed a wall in the area to climb the tree and then allegedly hung himself from there. His feet were almost touching the ground as the nylon rope must have slipped with the weight of the body .

The police has initiated proceedings under Section 374 of the CrPc in this regard. 



Brewers’ body appeals to Admin over prices
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
Reacting to the statement of liquor licence holders that manufacturers had increased the price of liquor, the All-India Brewers’ Association (AIBA) today said it was a misinformation that was being spread by certain vested interests which were against the new licensing policy of the Chandigarh Administration.

The AIBA, an industrial body representing India’s beer manufacturers, has urged the administration to intervene in the on-going confusion over the retail pricing of liquor products.

The vested interests among the retailers would abnormally hike the prices. Mr Sundeep Kumar, director of the AIBA, said, “In the past, taking advantage of monopolistic circumstances, retailers have been charging margins in excess of 100 per cent, compared to the national average of less than 15 per cent. Such retailers wanted to continue with the same despite the changed competitive scenario.”

“Even though a 4 per cent VAT has replaced the previous 22 per cent sales tax, the total tax component has only reduced by about Rs 2 per bottle due to changed incidence of other taxes like excise, assessment fee etc,” said Mr Kumar.

The new policy also removes wholesalers from the chain and requires manufacturers to directly supply to retailers. In the process, manufacturers incur increased distribution, transportation and manpower cost, which, in addition to higher credit risks, were being included in the landed price.

The AIBA said there was a 10 per cent increase in price, the first in three years despite increasing input costs such as power and fuel. Despite this, the landed cost to retailers has remained unchanged from about Rs 30 per bottle. Retailers can easily sell mild beer at Rs 35-40 per bottle and strong at Rs 40-45 and still earn a margin of 30 to 40 per cent.

This would bring beer prices down by a staggering 40 per cent from last year’s levels of Rs 60 for mild and Rs 70 for strong.

Mr Kumar said despite the forward looking change in excise policy, the consumer was being denied the full benefits of the policy changes, due to vested interests amongst certain sections who wanted to continue to sell at exorbitant prices. “We would urge the government to ensure that beer prices are kept in check,” he said.



SBI has “not lost business”
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
A day after the striking SBI employees re-joined their duties, the Chief General Manager of the Chandigarh circle, Mr Hemant Contractor, said the bank had not lost business becuase of the strike.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Contractor said though the bank had received several threats from customers, there was no major flight of business.

He said that in spite of today being a holiday, bank branches were opened at several places in Himachal Pradesh and Haryana to complete the backlog of work.



Split ACs register fast growth rate
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
The search for better home aesthetics, smaller dwelling units without balconies and decreasing cost differential between window air-conditioners (AC) and split ACs has led to the latter segment registering one of the fastest growth rates among consumer durables.

Consumer durable majors in the country say compared to a growth rate of 25 per cent in the AC market, growth rate in the split AC segment is over 50 per cent.

Fuelled by this growth, almost every company is now focusing on split ACs and has come out with multiple variants in this segment for this summer.

With the decrease in prices of split ACs, ranging from Rs 16,000 to Rs 30,000, these are now considered affordable.

While Onida has come up with 19 split AC models, TCL has launched 15 models.

Samsung has launched five models and Godrej has introduced two variants with i-Trec technology.

LG has come up with new variants in this segment and Voltas has launched two window ACs, mainly for semi-urban and rural consumers.

Whirlpool has decided to get aggressive regarding its split AC variant.

Mr Arvind Uppal, managing director of Whirlpool India, says the company has decided to launch an aggressive marketing campaign soon.

Mr Nitin Malhotra, manager sales with Onida, says the company has realised that split ACs are preferred by those buying ACs for the second time, and so, the company has launched multiple variants in this segment.

Agrees Mr Rajiv Bakshi, area sales manager, “With a price differential ranging from Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000 between window AC and split AC, the latter is preferred, mainly because living spaces are getting reduced”.

Four-day fair Coolex 2006, which had at least 22,000 visitors, concluded on a buoyant note yesterday, generating business enquiries worth around Rs 12 crore.



Western Union to open 90 more branches
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
Leading Indian agent of Western Union Money Transfer in South Asia, Paul Merchants, is targeting an 85 per cent growth this year. The company will open as many as 90 branches across the country and 8,000 franchisee locations.

These branches and franchisee locations will be allocated in accordance with the new regulations of the Reserve Bank of India. The net worth of the sub-agent should be at least Rs 5 lakh, and he should have infrastructure for setting a proper office, besides credibility in the market. Tea stall vendors or other such kiosk owners can no longer be appointed as sub agents - as was the practise earlier.

Talking to TNS here today, Mr S. Paul, Chairman cum Managing Director of Paul Merchants, said that 45 per cent of the total money legally remitted in Punjab through Western Union in the last fiscal, was done by his company.

“This year, we hope to increase our share to over 60 per cent. In the last quarter of the financial year 2005-06 (January to March), we registered a growth of 30 per cent, as compared to the corresponding period last year,” he added.

He said inspite of the measures taken by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to convert all illegal remittances by bringing it in the legal framework, only 20 million USD was being remitted through banks and private international money transfer companies in India.

“Over one million USD was remitted through Western Union last year. Western Union has been registering a growth of 100 per cent all over the country, though their growth in Punjab is only about 65 per cent. Interestingly, as compared to the USA, Canada and the UK being the only channels for getting inward remittances in Punjab, with Punjabis now settled in West Asian countries like Dubai and the UAE, a good share of money is now coming from these countries,” said the CMD of Paul Merchants.

Mr Paul pointed out that majority of money was still being transferred through illegal means, especially in Punjab.

According to rough estimates more than 50 per cent of the inward remittance is still through illegal means, though the inward remittances are now growing, he said.


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