C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Tests rule out bird flu in Barwala
Poultry farm owner booked
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

The police has booked Mr Rajiv Thappar, owner of the Himani poultry farm, on the charges of “mischief by killing or maiming animals or birds etc.” A case under Section 429 of the Indian Penal Code was registered against him at the Chandi Mandir police station late this evening. No arrest has been made so far.

Barwala, April 29
Panic continued to grip poultry farmers and residents of Barwala today following the death of 5,000 chickens in the Himani poultry farm, located in Kami village, about 2 km from here yesterday.

Though a majority of poultry farms were inspected by six teams of the Animal Husbandry Department, the officials failed to reassure the poultry farmers and the villagers there was no threat of “bird flu”.

Preliminary test conducted on the blood samples of live and dead birds at the Regional Disease Diagnostics Laboratory, Jalandhar, have so far ruled out the possibility of any contagious disease that have killed chickens at such a large scale.

Sources revealed that blood samples had also been sent to Bhopal for ascertaining the exact cause of death of the chicken.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Brijendra Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Panchkula, said prima facie evidences showed that the birds died due to starvation. He ruled out the possibility of spread of any contagious disease in poultry farms.

Mr Brijendra Singh said he had directed the police for registering a case against the owner of the Himani poultry farm, Mr Rajiv Thappar, for showing negligence leading to the death of the birds.

Mr Thappar said a financial crunch forced him to curtail the required feed supply to the birds. This all happened after a bank, which financed him, did not increase his loan. Suppliers of feed, pharmaceuticals, and medicines had been demanding money in advance for the fresh supply of those things, he said.

He claimed that he had introduced “nipple system” for providing water to the birds. It probably failed causing heat stroke to a stock of 10-week-old chicks. He had been suffering huge losses due to the “bird flu” scare for the past a couple of months.

Meanwhile, the Haryana Animal and Husbandry Department teams, along with those of the district administration, remained on their toes and inspected a majority of the poultry farms. Mr Satish Kumar, Tehsildar, Barwala, who inspected many poultry farms, said condition of birds in a majority of the poultry farms was satisfactory.

A random survey of the poultry belt by The Tribune team revealed that owners of a majority of the farms were busy spraying anti-fly insecticide. The were spraying a mixture of lime powder and pesticides.

Conditions of certain poultry farms were unhygienic with piles of droppings and cesspools of wastewater spotted on their premises. Many a farm had stuffed birds beyond their capacity.



Harassed railway ticket seekers wait for over 3 hrs
Tribune News Service

Heavy rush for booking

Despite special trains being run by the Northern Railways to clear the extra rush of passengers during the summer season, the waiting number on all long distance trains was touching 100. On the trains bound for Bihar, the waiting number was between 200 and 300, said sources in the Ambala division of the Railways. For Mumbai, the waiting number on Paschim and other Mumbai-bound trains from Amritsar was around 100. For the south-bound trains, the waiting number had crossed 90. Even for Shatabdi Express, the waiting was today around 64.

Chandigarh, April 29
It was unending wait for the ticket seekers at the railway reservation counters at the Chandigarh Railway Station here today. Hundreds of ticket seekers, including senior citizens and Army personnel, had to wait for over three hours as the telecommunication link to the reservation counters was snapped due to a technical error.

Due to the fault the reservation systems at the Inter State Bus Terminus (ISBT), Sector 17, Kalka, Nangal and other stations in the region were also not functional for over three hours.

When the technical snag was corrected, electrical malfunctioning in the control room of the reservation system at the station started creating problems as there was reportedly sparking in the wiring, said sources in the Railways. The counter for the defence personnel also was not operational in the morning for some time, complained some of the defence personnel.

“In case of such failures, there is no proper sitting arrangement for such a large number of persons”, complained, Mr Radhey Sharma, who had come to the station after seeing the rush at the Sector 17 reservation counters. The persons standing in the queue complained that there was no inquiry counter at the reservation counters where status about booking and other queries could be addressed.

At the special counter meant for senior citizens, physically challenged persons, and VIPs, there were complaints that the ticket seekers were today being asked unrelated queries without any reason.

A few day back, the uninterrupted power supply (UPS) meant to supply power to the reservation system failed. It had now been corrected. The Divisional Railway Manager (DRM), Mr R.K. Tandon, today visited the reservation counter.

Mr Anand Kumar, who had been standing in the queue for three hours, said: “What is use of the new facility, if more counters cannot be operated”. Similar grouse was aired by other standing in the queue.



Liquor shops on highways violate HC directions
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur/Lalru, April 29
With the liquor shops dotting the highways allegedly violating the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, residents have started voicing their protest against their location and increase in number.

Though there had been sporadic protests against the sudden spurt in the number of the liquor vends on the highways and populated areas yet the protests had failed to assume the organised shape in the wake of the lukewarm response from the two main parties, the Congress and SAD, towards the protests. Since certain influential sections of society, including the politicians, allegedly have major stakes in the lucrative liquor trade, the authorities concerned seem to be taking a lenient view of the violations by the liquor vends.

A tour of various places on the Chandigarh-Ambala, Zirakpur-Patiala, Zirakpur-Kalka and Ambala-Naraingarh highways revealed today that scores of the liquor shops were doing a brisk business right on the highways, apparently in violation of the high court directives.

As one drives down the highways “inviting” hoardings and banners, put up by the liquor vends owners, woo the motorists and commuters by announcing the low rates. These, besides violating the high court directions, have made the highways accident-prone, alleged Mr Gurbhajan Singh Saini, a social activist.

At Lalru Mandi, the liquor vend is right on the bus stand. Hundreds of vehicles halt at the liquor shop on the national highway obstructing the traffic. So much so that a large number of the government and private buses also stop at the liquor vends endangering the lives of the commuters, alleged Mr Rajiv Sharma, a BJP leader from Lalru.

Similarly, the liquor vend at Handesra village is right on the road with tipplers thronging the adjoining ‘ahata’ throughout the day and crossing the road in an inebriated state, alleged Mr Sardara Singh, a social worker.

Official sources said there were 53 liquor units in the Dera Bassi subdivision. While 51 units have two liquor vends each, two units have three liquor shops each.

An official informed that the violation of any rules within the municipal limits had to be checked by the civic body concerned. However, for checking the violations outside the municipal limits, the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) was the competent authority, he added.

It may be recalled that the ongoing four-laning of Zirakpur-Ambala would further add to the plight of the motorists and the general public. As the road is to be widened the existing liquor shops would be much nearer to the highway.



Radio taxi service from May 1
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 29
Come Monday, travelling in the city will be more convenient, comfortable and economical. New air-conditioned taxis will now be a phone call away.

All a user would have to do is call up at a given four digit number of a call centre which would divert the call to the providers of the radio taxi service. Whether the caller is at home, work place or at public place, within minutes the taxi would be on his side.

The payment would be strictly as per the distance travelled, a practice least followed by taxi operators. Under the new service, the payment can be made through the credit card.

The State Transport Authority (STA) has identified at least 30 different points in the city where cabs can be signalled to halt.

Mr P.S. Shergill, Secretary, State Transport Authority (STA), said the new service operators will not have the right to refuse. The authorities are contemplating to identify certain road-side sites. Such sites which would look like kiosks and would receive calls from the service provider to direct a taxi which is nearest to the location of a caller.

For the time being the taxis would be parked opposite the Taj Hotel in Sector 17. Mr Shergill said the three taxi service providers include the Hertz and the Mega Cab Services, both Delhi based companies and the local Indus Travels and Logistics.

In the introductory phase, each company plans to introduce 50 cabs each and would be increased to 100 each.

The tops of cabs will be fit with a white box which will have facility for showing the availability of the cabs to the onlookers. The green colour will mean that the cab is empty, the red will mean it is occupied and the yellow will mean it was on way to the customer's pick-up point .

Visibility of the white box with the indication of its status could be a problem during the day time, said Mr Shergill.

The UT Administration is learnt to have communicated to the airport and railways authorities to make arrangement for parking of the new taxis.



Passing thru

Deep Adhikari, Head of Examination Services (North India)
Deep Adhikari, Head of Examination Services (North India), British Council Division, New Delhi.

What brings you to Chandigarh?

The British Council is joining hands with the Swami Vivekanand Institute of Engineering and Technology (SVIET) for the University of Cambridge’s Business English Certificate (BEC) course.

How is the British Council associated with the course?

The British Council acts as a manager for a wide range of professional British examination boards. The British Library, in turn, acts as a local information and registration centre for several of these examinations.

How would Indian students benefit from the BEC course?

A large number of employers around the world recognise BEC as a global benchmark of good communication skills. The course offers an English language qualification for learners wishing to use English for the purposes of international business.

What about the fee?

Since the British Council is registered as a charity in the UK, only a registration fee of about Rs 2,000 is being charged from the students. Otherwise the cost of the course varies from Rs 7,000 to Rs 8,000.

— Pradeep Sharma



Shortage of cops affects law & order in Panchkula
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 29
The shortage of police personnel has not only affected the law and order situation adversely here but has also forced the personnel to work for long hours.

Inadequate force has even affected behaviour of the police personnel. Apart from it, the ill-equipped Panchkula police is not able to able to intensify the police patrolling especially in the rural areas of the district.

Department sources said that the district force has strength of over 700, which is hardly adequate for the entire district. Moreover, the shortage of vehicles, ultra modern equipments and other facilities has also made the police cripple.

Heavy deployment of cops with VVIPs, VIPs and political leaders has also thinned the strength in the district.

A satellite town of Chandigarh, residents here also seek same level of policing as that of Union Territory. A majority of the police personnel remain on security duty for VVIPs, VIPs and other political leaders who travel on the Chandigarh-Panchkula-Naraingarh and the Kalka-Ambala highways often.

In addition to this a major part of the force remains engaged in court cases. Maximum hours of their duty they have to travel for long distance in connection with these cases thus affecting the policing in their respective areas. This put extra workload on their colleagues.

Involvement of political leaders, bureaucrats and other influential persons has also been proving a major hindrance in the functioning of police.

Migration of labourers from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and other states to Panchkula, Zirakpur, Dera Bassi, Baddi and other peripheral areas, has witnessed a sharp increase in last a couple of years due to higher wages they get in this part of the region as compared to their parent states. Being from criminal backgrounds and illiterate, the migrants have also been adding to the crime rate of the district, sources revealed.

When contacted, Mr Balbir Singh, SP Panchkula Police, admitted the shortage of staff. He said that policing had been affected in rural areas of the district, especially on areas bordering Himachal Pradesh, UT and Punjab. He claimed that the crime graph had declined in last a couple of months.

Mr Singh, however, said he had written senior officials of the Haryana Police seeking additional force.



LIC sheds ‘babu’ image to go hi-tech
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 29
To showcase its 50 years’ of history Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) has embarked on an epic voyage on rails to celebrate its golden jubilee year. Through rare photographs and models, the LIC has put up a mobile exhibition in seven coaches of a specially-designed orange train, ‘Zindagi Express’, which arrived at the Railway Station here today.

The exhibition was thrown open to the public today by Mr Surinder Singh, Mayor, Municipal Corporation, Chandigarh. Also present on the occasion was Mr RK Tandon, Divisional Railway Manager, Ambala Division. The exhibition-on-rails was flagged off by the Union Minister of State for Finance, Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, from the Safdarjung Railway Station in New Delhi earlier this week. It will remain here till tomorrow evening. Visitors will also be given a coupon where in they can participate in a lucky draw and win attractive prizes.

Students from local schools visited the exhibition apart from residents.

The Zindagi Express has some historical exhibits like the first policy issued by the LIC, pictures of the first board meeting and inaugural issue of the corporation’s home journal “Yogakshema”. Apart from this, a model of the central office of the LIC and models of several other projects, funded by the LIC, are on display.

Many of the products like Jeevan Anurag, Jeevan Nidhi, Future Plus, Jeevan Plus, Jeevan Saral and Jeevan Anand have been attractively displayed; one coach has been earmarked for the general health check-up of the visitors. In the financial year 2005-06, the LIC had crossed the three crore mark for the first time with 3.17 crore policies. Of these, over one crore policies were of Bima Gold, its golden jubilee product. The first premium income had increased by 48 per cent, crossing Rs 18,000 crore while the total assets were pegged at Rs 5 lakh crore. The exhibition will move on to Dehradun on May 1 and 36 other stations before culminating its journey in New Delhi on July 17.

LIC, a public sector insurance giant, now seems to be facing stiff competition from the insurance companies in the private sector. Lucrative offers backed with powerful advertisements these companies have apparently set the LIC officials also thinking, send Mr NP Chawla, senior divisional manager, LIC, Chandigarh Division. He said LIC was now planning to have “satellite sampark offices” across the country. These centers will be situated at “prominent” places like malls, market places and will offer facilities like premium collection and information of new policies.

“The four offices for this region will be based in Mandi Gobindgarh, Sangrur, Mohali and Chandigarh. “We shall be having the first office in the city at Industrial Area Phase I by July/ August, said Mr Chawla.”



Narayan Sewa Sansthan to open centre in city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 29
Having a nine-year experience in treating and operating patients of polio and cerebral palsy, Udaipur-based Narayan Sewa Sansthan has decided to open a centre in the city as well.

Announcing the opening of a centre for physiotherapy and calipers workshop, Mr Prashant Aggarwal, organising secretary of the sansthan, said the centre would become functional in four to six months.

"Tricycles, wheelchairs, crutches, calipers, hearing aid, braille stick and slate and action appliances would be provided free of cost to the patients.

A doctor would sit at the centre once a week to attend to patients and recommend these appliances. Patients requiring surgery would be taken to Udaipur where we have a complete hospital and all treatment is provided free of cost, Mr Aggarwal said.

Explaining the work of the Sansthan, a four-time national award winner for outstanding work in field of disability, the secretary said the sansthan had a 400-bed hospital, where two meals were given to the attendant and patient free of cost.

The hospital was equipped with facilities for x-ray, lab test, medicines, calipers, physiotherapy among others, he added. The sansthan had vocational training centres to develop skills, including computers, repairing electronic appliances, sewing centre, car pantry and plumbing, he said.

A six-month course in addition to a tool kit to enable patients to earn for themselves and their family were among the works undertaken by the organisation, Mr Aggarwal said.

In addition, the sansthan organised mass marriages for handicapped people and ran a school at the premises as well, he said.



A gentle scholar
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Brig Gurdip Singh Grewal
Brig Gurdip Singh Grewal

Chandigarh, April 29
Brig Gurdip Singh Grewal, who passed away last week, was a Sikh scholar with a gentle approach towards complex issues related to the Panth. He used to discuss the Sikh issues intensely ,but without raising his voice even once.

Brig Grewal, a multi-facted personality, was a decorated Army officer. He was the founder member of the World Sikh Council and also worked as its general secretary.

Born in December 1935 at Baghdigi, Bihar, Brig Grewal's father was the first Chief Inspector of Mines, Government of India. His family had moved in from Pakistan after Partition to settle in Raikot, Ludhiana district.

After graduating from Government College, Ludhiana,he passed out from the Indian Military Academy in 1956. In his 33 years of service with the defence forces, Brig Grewal was in action during the China war of 1962.

He was then posted at Nathu-la , on the eastern front. He also served in Nagaland and held senior posts in the Western Command, Southern Command and Northern Command. He was awarded the Vishist Seva medal in 1982.

He had almost completed the draft of his book " Sarbat da bhala" when he fell ill . He left the Army in 1989 to start research in the Sikh history.

He was a brother-in-law( sister's husband) of Capt Kanwaljit Singh, General Secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal(SAD) and former Finance Minister.

Brig Grewal, is survived by his wife, Gurdarshan, son, Charandeep and daughters , Imandeep and Mandeep.

Panthic leaders will gather at Mohali to pay tributes to him at a Gurdwara tomorrow.



NABARD reaching out to farmers
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 29
National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has proposed a new model of micro- financing in agriculture, through Joint Liability Groups.

This was revealed by Dr K.G. Karmakar, Executive Director, NABARD, during his visit to the city. He said that the new model would reduce the cost of financing for farmer as well as banks.

"A group of five to seven farmers can get together and form a Joint Liability Group. They will be given a loan up to Rs 1 lakh, on submission of a simple declaration, and no long legal procedures are involved for advancing loans. The loan can be advanced to the individual members of the group, or to the group. We had run a pilot project of the scheme in 11 states across India, and have now decided to implement it from the coming week," he said.

Dr Karmakar also said that NABARD was in the process of forming a Hill Areas Policy, for water harvesting in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal and eight other states.



Hyenas stalk Jagatpura residents
Our Correspondent

Mohali, April 29
Residents of Jagatpura colony are having sleepless nights following reports that two hyenas have been on the prowl in the area for the past three days.

Residents said the wild animals were first seen late in the evening on Thursday, but were later spotted even during the day. They complained that the authorities concerned had not done much to drive away the animals from the residential area.

Ms Sunita, a Congress worker and also one of the presidents of the colony, said the matter was brought to the notice of the police. Some police personnel visited the area and two constables were even put on night duty on Thursday. But, nobody visited the area after that even when the animals were seen in the area a number of times.

Young boys of the area had been guarding the colony during the night. The animals tried to attack people sleeping in the open. Though no harm was caused to the people, the wild beasts tore mosquito nets.

Dheeraj, another resident of the colony, said tension prevailed in the area and nobody was feeling secure. To add to the problem there was no streetlight in the area. As such it was very difficult to prevent the hyenas from entering the colony in the night.

Mr Varinder Pal Singh, SP, said the police had immediately reached the spot when after the residents had complained about the hyenas. He said force was also deployed at night. He had directed the SHO concerned to visit the colony and again meet the residents there. Officials from the Wild Life visited the area today, the SP said.

The SHO of the area, Mr Tarlochan Singh, however, said two armed police personnel had been put on daily night duty in the area.



PSEB union threatens protest over outsourcing
Our Correspondent

Mohali, April 29
Members of the Technical Services Union of the Mohali circle of the Punjab State Electricity Board have decided to hold protests if the board did not stop to get the work done through outsourcing.

The decision was taken at a meeting held here today under the presidentship of Mr Lakha Singh.

He said the employees would be compelled to strike work in protest against the policies of the board.

He said any line of action drawn by the Joint Struggle Coordination Committee would be implemented with full vigour.

Employees had given their consent to give full support to any line of action that would be needed in the future.

The meeting was attended among others by Mr Vijay Kumar, president of the Mohali division, and Mr Paramjit Singh Sohana, president of Zirakpur division.



Stringent rules for ads, serials sought
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 29
A member of the Central Board of Film Certificate, Mr R.R. Gill, today urged the Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry to frame stringent guidelines for the screening of advertisements and TV serials.

Coming down heavily on the obscenity in the music videos, Mr Gill called upon the youths to launch a campaign against such videos. Despite clear-cut directions, certain producers and music companies were telecasting semi-nude video which were against the cultural heritage of the country.

He warned that the authorities concerned would take strict action if the music companies and the producers did not mend their ways.



National Water Resources Day celebrated
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 29
National Water Resources Day was today celebrated in various city schools. At Government Senior Secondary School, Manimajra town, the school principal, Kamla Bains, was honoured by the Environment Society of India, for her outstanding contribution towards environment protection and nature conservation. A lotus pond was also inaugurated on the occasion by Mr S.K. Sharma, president of the society.

At New Public School, the students took the initiative to set up the rainwater harvesting system in the school campus.

In addition to this, an inter school on-the-spot painting competition was also organised on the school premises in collaboration with the Department of Environment, Chandigarh Administration.



Ex-Services League secretary dead
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 29
The secretary of the Chandigarh chapter of the Indian Ex-Services League, Major Prem Singh (retd), passed away early today. He was 82. His cremation will take place on May 1 at the Sector 25 cremation ground.

Major Prem Singh was from the Corps of Signals. Besides taking up the cause of ex-servicemen, he was also an enthusiastic social worker and was associated with the Consumer Forum and sector welfare committees.



Biz Clips

EXPANSION PLAN: Supreme Yarns Limited, a Ludhiana-based textile company, has embarked upon a major expansion plan. Briefing about the current expansion programmes, Mr Ajay Mahajan, chairman of the company said on Friday that Supreme Yarns was planning a major expansion and modernisation plan of Rs 200 crores, spread over two years. This consisted of an addition of 30,000 spindles and 720 rotors for open-end spinning to the existing capacity of 33216 spindles, enhancement of the yarn dyeing and processing facilities to 25 metric tons per day, a fabric dyeing and processing facility of five metric tons per day, and a composite unit to make 25000 knitted garments per day having knitting, fabric processing and garment making as its core components. Mr Mahajan also briefed that these projects were planned as 100 per cent export oriented units. — TNS

Oracle opens shop: Oracle India on Friday announced that it will strengthen its presence in the non-metro cities across India, including Chandigarh. Announcing this here, Mr Anup Varma, Regional Sales Director Mid-Market Technology, Oracle India, said that other than the six metros where the company had set up offices, they proposed to strengthen its position in the cities of Ahmedabad, Pune, Coimbatore, Kochi, Vishakapatnam, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Indore and Lucknow. — TNS


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