C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Teething troubles for cab service
Not allowed in Panchkula, Mohali
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
The new taxi service introduced earlier this week is not being allowed to enter either Mohali or Panchkula. The cabs are not plying to the adjoining townships, despite the announcements about proper connectivity with neighbouring towns before the commencement of the service.

The cab operators do not possess the required permit to enter the territories of Punjab or Haryana.

Mr P.S. Shergill, Secretary of the State Transport Authority, said: “We had informed the officials of the Mega Cabs and the Indus Travels and Logistics services that they will be required to pay a special fee, for a pass, to the Chandigarh Administration.

“Subsequently, they will have to pay the relevant fee to the states of Punjab and Haryana. None of the parties have approached us as yet.”

Mr Maninder Singh, Director, Operations, the Mega Corporation Ltd, said: “We have the permit for Chandigarh only and on this permit, I do not even qualify to pay tax to Punjab or Haryana.

“We have been told that we will be given relevant passes on a monthly basis till final arrangements are made.

“Besides, we also have to pay taxes to the states of Punjab and Haryana. Our question is that if we will be going to only one city in the states concerned, then why pay the travelling-pass tax for the entire state?

“The charges should be worked out corresponding to the territory we cover on ground.”

Col R.N. Singh, on his annual vacation to Mohali, said: “I wanted a taxi for Phase VIII from the railway station, however, the cab driver said he could not take me there.

“I think any cab service in the city will loose its meaning if it is not connected effectively to the satellite towns of Mohali and Panchkula.”

Operators of the new cab services pointed out some trouble at the parking lot of important places like the railway station, airport and the Sector 17, besides other places.

“At the railway station, our site is somewhat hidden from the public view because of huge hoardings and also because the old taxi-drivers and the auto-drivers rush to get the passengers from the platform,” a cab-driver said.

Reliable sources said the authorities were working out a plan to regulate the traffic. Each taxi service would be expected to stay in the area allotted to them and not rush to the place where the passengers alight.

Mr Gagan Saini, manager with the Indus Travels and Logistics, said: “Passengers will be expected to pay Rs five extra for every three minutes in case the drivers are made to wait during process of a journey.

An official press statement today said the newly launched metered AC taxis would very soon run between Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali. There was no official hitch from Punjab and Haryana Governments for the cabs plying through Panchkula and Mohali.

The operators had to apply to the STA, Chandigarh, for the special passes, it added.



Who will be the next VC?
Search panel to find out
Chitleen K. Sethi

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh May 13
The Vice-President of India, who is also the Chancellor of the Panjab University (PU), Mr Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, has constituted a search committee to recommend the name of PU’s next Vice-Chancellor (VC).

The three-year term of the present VC, Prof K.N. Pathak ends in July this year.

The committee, headed by the former Chief Justice of India, Mr Justice J.S. Verma (retd), would have renowned academician, Prof K.K. Aggarwal, as one of its members.

The committee would be recommending three names to the Chancellor, who is the appointing authority of the VC, and a name is generally finalised only few days before the term of the existing VC comes to an end.

Though there is no official panel of contenders for the post, senior academicians at individual-level are known to campaign overtly or covertly for the coveted post.

In the reckoning is Prof K.N. Pathak, the outgoing VC, who would be seeking an another extension of three years.

He has been the VC of the university for the past six years after he was given an extension following the end of his first term in 2003.

Prof Pathak known for his balanced and non-confrontationist stand on many issues is one of the strongest candidates for the post.

A Physics Professor, Prof Pathak’s six-year term in the university has also seen major improvements in the academic environment of the university and the otherwise dying science departments.

Dr Veer Singh, the current Dean, University Instruction (DUI), is the senior-most professor in the university and following a tradition of choosing the seniormost professor as the VC, Prof Veer Singh stands a good chance of being chosen as the next Vice-Chancellor.

Prof Veer Singh successfully headed the Army institute of Law in Mohali for a period of two years after which he has been the DUI. Known to be quick, efficient, decisive and fair, Prof Veer Singh is also a lucid orator and a highly rated academic.

Prof S.K. Sharma, a retired PU professor, who is currently the member of the Prime Minister’s Security Advisory Committee, is also a strong candidate for the post.

He has been in the forefront of promoting alternate energy sources in the country and is a renowned scientist.

He founded and headed the Alternative Energy Centre at PU’s Chemical Engineering Department and remained as the university’s DUI for the full term.

Prof Anirudh Joshi, another retired PU professor, who remained in the post of the Dean, Student Welfare (DSW), during the trying period of the university, especially with regards to students politics, has been an effective and popular administrator.

He held the post of the DSW while still a reader. A Sanskrit scholar, Prof Joshi is also said to be in the reckoning for the post.

Dr R.D. Anand, a PU Chemistry Professor, is currently the Director, Research, Association of Indian Universities.

Prof Anand has been a PU senator and a syndic for many years and also remained the Dean of the Faculty of Sciences.

Prof Anand, who served as Principal of Arya College, Ludhiana, might also be considered for the post.

Prof Indu Banga, a senior Professor in the Department of History, is also said to be in the reckoning.

Though sources added that most of these contenders are known to be associated with one political party or the other or have the backing of the Left or the Right, there are reasons to believe that the appointment of the PU V-C would be a non-political appointment based on merit and achievements of the said candidate.



Two PCA Club workers held
Our Correspondent

Mohali, May 13
The police has arrested two employees of the PCA Club in connection with the drowning of school boy Gaurav Sharma in its swimming pool on Thursday.

The police said the arrested persons were Amandeep Singh, an AC mechanic, and Sanjay Sethi, who worked in the security wing of the club. While Amandeep Singh was a resident of Lakhnour village, Sanjay lived in Sector 40, Chandigarh. Both of them were on duty when the mishap took place. They had taken Gaurav out of the swimming pool.

They have been arrested on charges of negligence. The police said both the employees were good divers and as such their services were being availed of in the absence of the coach of the club. The coach was on leave as someone in his family had died.



Desilting of Sukhna begins
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
The mechanical desilting of Sukhna Lake started today morning, a press note said.

Mr V.K. Bhardwaj, Chief Engineer, said, "The desilting of Sukhna Lake will continue up to the onset of monsoon". He said the target had been set to remove about 10,00,000 cubic lakh cubic feet of silt from the lake, this season.

The desilting campaign will remove silt, which comes to the Sukhna, along with water of catchment area during the rainy season. One JCB, 6 tippers and 2 dozers have already started working and some more are expected to join very soon. Till date, the machinery for desilting has been contributed by the Bhakra Beas Management Board, Punjab Irrigation and Army authorities. The machinery of the UT Engineering Department is also working. Other departments, including the Haryana Irrigation and Municipal Corporation, are also expected to contribute their machinery. They are likely to join within a week.



377 cases of liquor seized
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, May 13
The Sales Tax Department today seized 377 cases of whisky from a truck at the sales tax barrier here.

According to sources, the truck was intercepted during a routine checking by officials of the department. A fine of Rs 1.5 lakh was slapped on the truck owners for evasion of sales tax. Meanwhile, the officials of the Excise Department were also informed for initiating action under the Excise Act.

The whisky was allegedly being taken to Rohtak from Chandigarh.



Passing Thru

Mr K.S. Kohli, Chairman, Frankfinn Group
Mr K.S. Kohli, Chairman, Frankfinn Group

A lot of aviation institutes have mushroomed over the past couple of years. How is Franfinn different from the other institutes?

In less than 10 years, since we started the training courses for jobs in the aviation sector, we are the undisputed leaders. This is not just because of better course content and professional training, but also because of the brand value of quality, honesty and innovation that we have created.

What are the growth plans for this year?

This year, we have already open ed 30 new institutes. Now, we have 70 institutes in 45 cities across the country. With this, we are the world's largest aviation and hospitality training institute. From April, we have started B. Tech Higher National Certificates in aviation, hospitality and travel management. We have already bought a 15-acre land in Panjim, Goa, to set up a world-class training institute at a cost of Rs 100 crore.

What are the company's diversification plans?

Last year, we had launched a music company called Frankfinn Music. We are now working to launch our domestic airlines, Air Frankfinn, by 2009. Initially, we will launch with six aircraft, but by 2012, we will have a 25 aircraft fleet.

— Ruchika M. Khanna



Takht order may go against structures on govt land
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
A directive issued by the Akal Takht Jathedar regarding the installation of Nishan Sahib and Parkash of Guru Granth Sahib at gurdwaras, which have come up on encroached land, could go against such religious structures in the city.

In the wake of the Supreme Court directive against encroachments and anti-encroachment stand of the Chandigarh Administration, the directive is likely to be used by the Administration in convincing local religious leaders to remove such encroachments.

In the directives issued in March, 2004, Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti, had stated that the Akal Takht had been receiving complaints that the land was being encroached upon at lonely places and the Nishan Sahib installed permanently despite there being no gurdwara structure or Parkash of Guru Granth Sahib, and it was against the Sikh tenets.

“The action amounts to insult to the sacred Nishan Sahib. The Sikh sangat is requested to immediately stop such illegal possession of land and make sure the Nishan Sahib is installed at only appropriate places. The violators will be dealt as per the gurmat”, further reads the message.

Sources in the Administration said the directive could help in convincing the religious leaders and gather public opinion on demolishing such religious structures, which had come in the way of several prestigious projects in the city.

The Administration had identified around 20 such structures. The widening of the National Highway No. 21 and another highway which laid alongside the Industrial Area, Phase II, had encroachments at five points, said a senior official in the Administration.

Mr G.S. Riar, a member of the SGPC, said the directives of the Akal Takht should be followed in letter and in spirit and any new religious structure should not be allowed to come up in the city. But, the old structures had to be relocated in a systematic manner.

“We are ready to vacate the land where it is required by the Administration or can pay money for de-notifying the land or we should be allotted alternative sites”, he said, adding that once sentiments of the residents were attached with a structure it was difficult to demolish it.

While holding its officials responsible for overlooking such structures while under construction, he said there should be a clear cut policy for religious sites. “We are ready to submit the building plans and abide by the rules”, he added.

The sources said a report prepared by the Administration on encroachments stated that around 665 acres of prime land had been encroached upon. The report stated that around 390 religious structures existed on govt land in sectoral grid, colonies and villages.

Of these 194 were in the sectoral grid.

In a recent survey it was found that 102 religious structures either existed since the inception of the city or came up without any permission. During the 12 years, 17 religious places had come up in the areas, which had fully or partly acquired by the Administration. The issue had been discussed in a recent meeting of the Administrator’s Advisory Council meeting.

The sub-group formed to look into unauthorised religious structures and encroachments had in its recommendations stated that as a matter of policy, the Administration should remove all encroachments on the government land without any discrimination.

The sub-group had stated that in case of unauthorised religious structures, which were impediments in the implementation of certain projects, a meeting should be held with the management of such religious places. In case, the religious place, which existed before the city was carved out, alternative sites should be offered by the Administration on reasonable rates.

Since the Administration was shifting slum colonies, the religious sites in the colonies would loose their utility after shifting of the slums. The had sub-group recommended one site each should be earmarked in the area where labour colonies were being shifted.

But, the issue has not been resolved so far.



Fast food joints flout Motor Vehicle Act
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu

Chandigarh, May 13
Several food joints in the region are flouting the Motor Vehicle Act with impunity, besides denying the state exchequer of lakhs if not crores of rupees annually by buying and registering scooters for ‘personal use’ and using these ‘commercially’ after modifying, that is not permitted legally.

The modification by fitting ‘heat entrapping’ boxes for carrying steaming hot food to the door steps of customers not only violates the law, but also poses a grave threat to those on the roads by making these scooters accident prone. In a rush to deliver within a stipulated time, these scooters are driven at a very high speed. No tests are known to have been conducted after fitting ‘heat entrapments boxes’ to see if the vehicle remains ‘road worthy’ or becomes accident prone.

These scooters, used solely for commercial purposes by local and multinational food chains, are violating traffic rules and specific provisions under Section 52 of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988, that allows a minimal 2 per cent alteration meant for installing extra lights, mirrors etc. Before mass production, an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) submits a blueprint of the vehicle to be bulk produced along with reports of safety tests. Any alteration or modification to the original design, not only violates the security assured by the OEM, but violates the law of the land. Therefore, individuals are not allowed to manufacture motor vehicles of their own, which is otherwise possible.

Ms Swati Sharma, Registering and Licensing Authority, Chandigarh, said, ‘‘There is not a single scooter in the city registered as commercial vehicle’’. She added that there were no provisions to register a two-wheeler for commercial purposes. As the matter had been brought to her notice, she would it take up with the administration.

The Chandigarh Traffic Police that sees hundreds of such vehicles moving around freely, has never reportedly issued a challan to the scooter riders for this particular violation. However, there have been cases where these scooter riders were challaned for over speeding or jumping a traffic light. It is estimated that there are over 250 such scooters running on the city roads.

The Senior Superintendent of Police (Traffic and Operations), Mr Dinesh Bhatt, said, ‘‘I am not aware of these violations, but I will have the matter looked into and if something is found amiss, appropriate action will be taken’’.

When contacted, a local auto dealer who undertakes such conversions says they charge extra Rs 3,600 for fitting the box in place of the rear seat of the scooter. When asked about the hassles at the hands of the traffic police or the registration authorities for carrying out these alterations, he said he had never come across any complaint.

Disclosing the modus operandi in the passing of these scooters, the salesman working with the dealer advised us to get the scooter passed by the registration authority first and then go for alteration.

It is pertinent to mention here that Rule 49 of the Karnataka Motor Vehicle Act read with the Section 52 of the MV Act does not allow ‘‘absolute change of the identity of a vehicle from one type of vehicle to another by either enhancing or reducing the number of seats’’.

Officials at the Registration and Licensing Authority office said the issue was debated in the past, but it had nothing to do with them. Clearing their stance over the issue, they said at the time of the passing of the vehicle the owner would show the standard equipment without any change in its body and get it passed. It was only afterwards that they carried out alteration and they could not do anything in this regard.

Mr P.S. Shergil, Secretary, State Transport Authority, Chandigarh, confirmed that no two-wheeler had been registered as a commercial vehicle. About the modification and alteration, he said no one had so far approached his office seeking permission to carry out the changes in two-wheelers for commercial or any other purpose. He said now that the matter had been brought to his notice, he would initiate immediate action.



EO hears residents’ woes
Our Correspondent

Panchkula, May 13
Over 100 citizens, led by the area municipal councillors — Kuljit Waraich, Renuka Rai Walia — and Deepak Dhiman, president, residents welfare association of Sector 4, Mansa Devi Complex, participated in an open ‘darbar’ held at the community centre here today.

Brig M.S. Sohal (retd) presented 15 demands and the issue of encroachment of public land was given immediate and priority attention.

Presiding over the darbar, the Estate Officer, S.P. Arora, assured the settlement of demands pertaining to the Huda immediately.

Col A.J.S. Ahluwalia and Rajeev Kawatra emphasised on the need of constructing a flyover, maintenance of parks, having greenery and checking cattle menace.

The residents felt insecure in view of the unchecked flux of migrants and mushrooming of the slums.



Mohanty Colonel of Dogra Regiment
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
Lieut-Gen J.K. Mohanty has been nominated Colonel of the Dogra Regiment and Dogra Scouts. As Colonel of the regiment, he will be responsible for all regimental affairs and the well being of Dorga troops.

General Mohanty is presently serving as the General Officer Commanding, 14 Corps in Leh. An alumnus of Sainik School, Bhubaneswar, he was commissioned into 15 Dogra in June, 1969, and saw action in Western Sector during the 1971 Indo-Pak war.

He has served as an instructor in Bhutan and has also commanded a division in counter-insurgency environment. He was decorated with the Sena Medal in 1993, Vishisht Seva Medal in 2003 and Uttam Yudh Seva Medal in 2004 for distinguished services.



Sec-17 theft accused to be quizzed today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
After three days, the crime branch of the Chandigarh police today got permission to interrogate the salesman, Raju, who is an accused in the case of theft at a Sector-17 showroom, Sweet Girls Station. He is now lodged in Burail Jail.

The sleuths of the crime branch would interrogate Raju tomorrow.

The salesman will be questioned about his earlier statement recorded by the police officials at the Sector 17 police station.

He will be confronted with the call details he made and received from certain mobile numbers, including the number of the wife of the Deputy Mayor.



Cheques distributed among panchayats
Tribune News Service

Dera Bassi, May 13
The Vice-Chairman of the Punjab State Industrial Development Corporation (PSIDC), Mr Deepinder Singh Dhillon, today distributed cheques worth Rs 9 lakh among various village panchayats at a function held at Baroli village, near here.

Addressing the gathering, Mr Dhillon claimed that the Amrinder Singh regime had been disbursing grants to all panchayats for development works irrespective of their political affiliations. Besides, the mega projects approved by the government would provide job opportunities to the youth, he added.

Mr Kuljit Singh Randhawa, Zila Parishad member, Mr Prem Singh, president of the Dera Bassi City Congress, and Mr Iqbal Singh, Director of the Punjab Agriculture Development Bank, were prominent among those present.



80 jhuggis removed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
The enforcement staff of Estate Office today removed about 80 jhuggis from the land of Air Force in Sector 31 here today. In an operation, a JCB was used to remove the jhuggis which had been put up by a contractor of the 3 BRD. The contractor protested against the drive stating that no prior notice had been given by the authorities.



CII state council discusses work plan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
Good governance, shared vision and independent statutory public regulation are the critical factors for enhancing competitiveness and sustainable growth of Punjab.

This was stated by Mr Harpal Singh, Chairman of the CII Punjab State Council, while sharing the work plan chalked out for Punjab this year. He said the council had identified key priorities for the year ahead, with a special thrust on reforms and implementation at the state level. "We will also enhance our presence in the region, by opening zonal offices at Bathinda and Patiala, besides the existing offices at Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar," he said.

He pointed out that the CII would enhance industrial competitiveness in the state by taking initiatives for expediting the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Amritsar, evolving PPP projects for infrastructural development of the state, working towards special implementation of VAT and facilitating reforms in power and labour.

"As we recognise the advantage Punjab, we cannot be complacent about the challenges like power and water shortage, quality education, infrastructure development, healthcare issues, migration from rural to urban areas et al," he said.

Mr Harpal Singh said the CII would endeavour towards creating a platform for buyers and sellers by forging partnership agreements with SMEs; enhance agricultural competitiveness through crop diversification and retain its focus on policy work with special thrust on fiscal reforms. He also highlighted the major events planned during the year to promote competitiveness and sustainable growth of the industry.



Punjab govt keen on rural business hubs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
The Punjab Government would provide all support to ‘rural business hubs’ (RBHs) in the state as this unique partnership initiative of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj (MoPR), Government of India, and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) would help bridging the rural -urban divide.

This was stated by Ch Jagjit Singh, Labour, Employment and Local Government Minister, Punjab, while addressing the first Punjab State Rural Business Hubs Council meeting today at Mohali.

This initiative would also strengthen the panchayati raj system in the state as local farmers and artisans would be involved at grassroots levels, he said.

Ch Jagjit Singh said RBHs in Punjab would increase the living standards of people, attract NRI investments increasing the rate of the economic growth of the state.

This would also generate more employment, thereby, solving labour problems.

Fishery, poultry, pottery, handloom, handicrafts, agro–based industry etc could be the products for which quality upgradation and market linkages would be facilitated, he added.

Mr S.C. Agrawal, Principal Secretary, Industries and Commerce, Punjab, said although the focus of RBH was on traditional industry, it should involve high levels of technology rather than being based on manual skills alone.

He suggested that the council should explore innovative products for these RBHs, such as eco-friendly carry bags, which could be made out of the agricultural residue.

Earlier, Mr Harpal Singh, Chairman, CII Punjab State Council and co–Chairman, Punjab State Rural Business Hubs Council, said the CII in partnership with Panchayati Raj Ministry had initiated the concept of RBHs in Punjab.

The objective was to upgrade the locally available resources and promote manufacturing, handicrafts and business activity.



Industrialists meet DC
Our Correspondent

Mohali, May 13
The Mohali Industries Association (MIA) held a meeting with Mr Tejveer Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Mohali, at the MIA Bhavan here yesterday.

Mr Balbir Singh, president of the MIA, stated that they had held a formal reception for the Deputy Commissioner of the new district for introducing their office-bearers and some of the members and to apprise him about the problems being faced by the local industry.

The major problems enlisted by the association related to the PSIEC, PUDA and the local Municipal Council.

The Deputy Commissioner assured the association that each of their problems and suggestions would be looked into and efforts made to resolve them at the earliest.


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