C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S

2 held for duping youths
Promised jobs abroad for Rs 20,000
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 17
In a case of unsuspecting Punjabi youths being duped by unscrupulous travel agents, the Chandigarh police today arrested two employees of a Mumbai-based company, Dubai Tour and Travels, who had been operating a branch office of the company in Sector 17. The company did not have any licence to send youths abroad.

To lure youths, the company had got advertisements published in Punjabi dailies, announcing guaranteed jobs in Cuba and Dubai. An amount of Rs 30,000 had been sought through advertisements.

The two employees, Shelly Sharma and Ravi Kumar, both 21 years old, told the police that the company, after opening its Chandigarh office about a month ago, had collected about Rs 35 lakh from over 200 youths. Of this amount, about Rs 24 lakh had been withdrawn from the Mumbai branch of the IDBI Bank by Mr Ali, said to be the owner of the company.

Inspector Jagbir Singh, Station House Officer, Sector 17, said Rs 11 lakh was still found in the Chandigarh branch of the bank. “We have requested the bank not to transfer the money”, he said.

During the raid at the Sector 17 office and the Sector 35 rest house, the police recovered 25 passports, 117 receipts of Rs 20,000 each and 170 receipts of passports. An amount of Rs 60,000 were found in possession of the duo.

Investigations by the police revealed that Rs 50,000 was withdrawn this morning from the account at the Mumbai branch of the bank. The applicants were asked to submit drafts of Rs 20,000 each along with their passports.

The money was demanded for tickets, medical fee and medical expenses. Both of them had posed as employees of Airtel to take a room on rent in Sector 35.

The duo told the police that in the advertisements, they had given requirements for carpenter, mason, labourer and driver. The company had plans to take the youths to the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi on July 17.

The passports and bank drafts were sent through courier to Mumbai. Inspector Jagbir Singh said the raid was conducted on a complaint of Mr Som Pal of Nawanshahr.

A case under Sections 420 and 120-B of the IPC was registered at the Sector 17 police station. The duped youths hailed from different parts of Punjab.



Child offers conflicting peeks into mystery years
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Atul with his parents.
Atul with his parents. — Tribune photo by Malkiat Singh

Chandigarh, June 17
Thirteen-year-old Atul is making the world around him go round. Ever since he surfaced in the city after his disappearance in July 2003, the child has been saying one thing this moment and another the next.

The two versions paint entirely different pictures. According to the first, which Atul gave to his parents on June 14 when he returned, he had suffered torture at the hands of child traffickers, who kidnapped him from Mani Majra and took him to Jalandhar. If this one is to be believed, these traffickers have allegedly been involved in the exploitation of several poor children.

According to the second version, which Atul gave to the police on June 15, he left home on his own and was not kidnapped. He ran away to escape the wrath of his father, who was mad at his poor performance at school. He spent three years with a nihang at Dhaliwal till one fine day, he began to miss his family and decided to come back. So he went to Amritsar, from where he boarded a train to Chandigarh.

As conflicting versions baffle those related to Atul, he seems to be enjoying his return. Composed after three years of separation from family, the child is looking forward to good times. School is also on his mind as he was studying in Class V at Saharan Public School before he disappeared.

“I do not want to remember my past. I just want to concentrate on studies,” Atul said today. His parents Om Prakash and Geeta are also breathing easy after their son’s return, though they are curious to know the truth.

Atul, however, seems confused about what to say and what to hide. The change in versions may well have something to do with the kind of life he led during the years that he was away from family. As soon as he got back to his residence, he had told his father about the hell-raising experience he had at Jalandhar, after being “kidnapped” from Vikas Nagar.

He had said: “I was kept as a slave at a farmhouse, where I used to graze cattle. There were other child labourers doing odd jobs. We were given frugal meals - four chapatis a day. Afraid that I would run away, the owner of the farmhouse used to send one Kulwant Singh with me when I went to work. If ever I requested them to let me go, they would beat me. They even shot two boys who insisted on returning home. But I patiently waited for a chance to run away. And it came when I was allowed to go grazing all by myself. I walked to the city area and sought police help. They helped me get back to Chandigarh.”

The day Atul returned, he was terrified. His mother points out, “He was listless. He told us he had been brutally beaten up. We are happy he is back.”

For their part, the personnel at the Mauli Jagran police post, where Atul’s missing report was lodged, are convinced he lied on day one. “He said the man who kidnapped him came in a bus. Why should anyone require a bus to abduct a child? His story has many loose ends,” said Mr Bhupinder Singh, in charge of the police post where Atul recorded his statement on June 15.

This statement was a volte face from the earlier one. Which of the two is true remains a mystery.



Chandigarh to have trauma speciality hospital
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 17
The Chandigarh Administration has decided to set up a trauma speciality hospital in the southern belt of the city, which will be a part of the third government hospital in the city. The move is seen as an important development to decrease the burden on the PGI, which can concentrate better on its research and super-speciality cases.

The Administration is finalising the space allocation. “The project is likely to come up in Sector 53. We are also studying one more spot in the adjoining area of the southern belt. Last-minute details regarding the space allocation, keeping in mind the functional details of labs needed in different specialities, are being worked out,” a senior official said.

During deliberations on the new hospital, a team of experts, including the UT Director Health Services, the Director of the PGI, the Principal of the GMCH and at least three former Directors of the PGI were involved. It was felt that “a centre exclusive to trauma care best suited the current needs of the city. The PGI witnesses a rush of patients from all over the region, including Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and parts of Jammu and Kashmir. A majority of them need super-speciality care. The doctors are also burdened with a very big number of trauma cases from the city. Alternative avenues of emergency care are one of the significant suggestions for the new project”.

The hospital will be the second campus of the Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32. The development is important in the context that the GMCH is all set to be converted into a deemed university. This will mean more training facilities in the city.

It was pointed out that in addition to the trauma attention facilities, the hospital would also have other services. “It is just that trauma care will be given top priority. Details regarding trauma care in cases of cardiac, asthma, neuro-surgery and other emergencies have been specified as top areas. In a related development, the hospital will have a very professional ambulance services.”

The ambulance would be available on one common telephone number, like the newly introduced cab service. The ambulance would be fitted with telephone, connected directly to the hospital. On way to the hospital, the staff would have worked out the exact place where the case was to be taken. “We are likely to start the new emergency services on ambulances in all hospitals very soon,” the official said.

Reliable sources said at least 10 acres had been identified for the 100-bed project. There was a leverage of additional two acres in the project layout. 



Tank T-72 overhaul slips behind schedule
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 17
Inability of ordnance factories to overhaul T-72 tanks, the Army's mainstay combat vehicle, has resulted in a huge backlog which would take at least 10 years to clear. This would have an adverse impact on the operational readiness of tank regiments.

According to available information, ordnance factories could overhaul only about 18 per cent of the tanks due for overhaul till 2005. Similarly in the case of tank engines, only 40 per cent of the target could be achieved.

A report released last month stated that against 1,935 tanks due for overhaul till 2005, the Army offered only 421 tanks to the Heavy Vehicles Factory (HVF). Of these, the factory could overhaul only 363 tanks and return only 323 tanks to the Army.

According to the Army's policy, T-72 tanks which were imported are due for first overhaul after 12 years or 10,000 km and the second is done after 22 years or 18,000 km. For indigenously produced T-72s, the first overhaul is after 10 years or 5,000 km and the second after 20 years or 9,000 km.

"The backlog of 1572 tanks to be overhauled as of 2005 had arisen primarily due to insufficient overhaul capacity created, failure of the factory to make available the quality spares in time and inadequate supply of tanks due for overhaul by the Army," the report said.

Even with the proposed augmentation of the existing capacity of 170 tanks per annum (120 at HVF and 50 at 505 Army Base Workshop), the backlog would take 10 years for clearance at optimum capacity utilisation, the report stated.

"By this time, there would be a further accumulation of another 1,983 tanks for first and second overhaul. This would have an adverse impact on operational readiness," the report added.

Though the factory attributed shortfall in achieving target to the failure of the Army to make available adequate number of tanks for overhaul, the Army, however, maintained that slippage in the production of T-72 tanks by HVF compelled it to stop withdrawal of tanks due for overhaul so that required force levels could be maintained in regiments. However, there was gradual improvement in the situation since 2004-05, the report noted.

In 1997, the Army placed an indent for production of 1,380 T-72 tanks to replace the T-55 and Vijayanta fleets. Annual shortfall in production between 1999 and 2005 ranged from 20 per cent to 100 per cent.

In the case of tank engines, only 1168 engines out of the required 2,935 engines could be overhauled. The Army, according to the report, is creating additional capacity for overhaul of 30 more engines at 505 Base Workshop.



Zirakpur getting stepmotherly treatment
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, June 17
Even after over five years of its formation, the Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat has been facing an acute shortage of healthcare, power and sewerage, besides a number of other facilities. Being a satellite town of Chandigarh, Zirakpur is allegedly being meted out stepmotherly treatment by the state government.

Residents of Zirakpur have been facing the heat of political vendetta over various development issues. Efforts of SAD General Secretary Capt Kanwaljit Singh to constitute a nagar panchayat by merging Zirakpur and surrounding villages had borne fruits in May 1999 after the issuance of formal notification in this regard.

The civic body remained headless for over a year and the government came with scores of development plans for the Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat after an elected body was constituted under the presidentship of Mr Narinder Kumar Sharma.

Residents’ dreams to have facilities at a par with that of Chandigarh and Panchkula have not come true till date.

Mr Bhupinder Saini, chairman of the Rotracts Clubs of Dera Bassi, has claimed that development works in Zirakpur have been going on at a snail’s pace after the Congress came to power in the state.

Residents of the area complain that the Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat has been lacking facilities like hospitals, proper sewerage system, bus stand, schools and other civic facilities though political leaders have been making promises to provide them civic amenities.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh has expressed his concern about the absence of facilities. He has claimed that the Congress has been meting out stepmotherly treatment to this developing town.

“The state government has restricted the release of adequate grants for the development of the township. Whatever development has been made in Zirakpur is all from the revenue generated by the civic body,” he has claimed.



Eco Notes
Don’t let rainwater go waste
Vishal Gulati
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH: As City Beautiful grows economically, its groundwater declines enormously. Groundwater is pumped out in large quantities daily to meet the requirements of about a million populace.

Tips to conserve water in daily use

  • Defective tap should be rectified to the minimise loss.
  • Turn off the tap while brushing teeth.
  • Wash you vehicle with a bucket and not with a water pipe.
  • Conserve village ponds and create new ones.
  • Wash vegetables and fruits in a bowl. Use the dirty water for irrigating plants.
  • Lawns need only 2 or 3 cm of water and can be watered only between 3 and 5 days a week. Daily watering results in shallow roots.
  • Instal new cisterns that use less water.

In Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali, the maximum dependence is on tubewells. This has resulted in the depletion of the water table at an alarming rate.

Studies conducted by the Chandigarh-based Central Groundwater Board of the Ministry of Water Resources say the water is available at more than 60m depth in most parts of the city.

Water is available at more than 60m in Sector 17 and at more than 70m in Sector 27. In case of the Information Technology Park, Mani Majra, railway station and Kishangarh areas, it is available at more than 80m.

However, in the southern sectors, it is available at around 40m.

In Panchkula, the position of the water table is better than that in Chandigarh and Mohali. Water is available between 30m and 40m below ground level in Panchkula as the Ghaggar is recharging the aquifers.

According to “State of Environment Chandigarh — 2004”, a report prepared by the Punjab State Council for Science and Technology, only 4.72 per cent of the total area of the city is under water bodies. This includes Sukhna Lake and seasonal rivulets, including the Sukhna Choe and the Patiala-ki-Rao.

Scientists of the Central Groundwater Board say the only way to recharge the aquifers is to harvest rainwater.

For the common man, the easiest way to tap rainwater is rooftop harvesting. For this, one needs to channelise the water to a recharge structure.

They say a 200 sq m rooftop catchment can recharge about 152 cubic metre of rainwater every year.

As installing the rainwater harvesting structure is a bit costly, a structure can be installed jointly by residents. For this, one can take the guidance of the board.



When all else fails, God’s name never fails: Bapu
Akanksha Bhalla
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 17
These were the words of Bapu Asaram that mesmerised his followers who had gathered to take part in the Geeta Bhagwat Satsang at Sant Asaram Ashram in Seonk village, near PGI, here.

Tujhme ram mujhme Ram,

Sab mein Ram samaya hai.

Karlo sneh sabse,

Koi nahin paraya hai.

The massive following of the Hindu tele-evangelist was evident as followers from across Punjab, Himachal, Haryana, Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir came to partake of the guru’s sermon. Says Vinod Sharma, spokesperson of the satsang organising committee, “This satsang is being held to give Bapu’s followers in Chandigarh a chance to see their guru. Bapu ji’s thinking is simple and down-to-earth. Instead of 10,000 people travelling to Ahmedabad, it is easier for one person to come here”.

The ambience for the satsang was generated with the recital of Om to the soft notes of sarangi. Explaining the value of Bhagwat Gita, Bapu Asaram said, “Gita, in its 18 chapters and 700 shilokas, contains the essence and summary of the Upanishads- the greatest spiritual literature of the world”.

He said while Bhogi was one who got excited in happiness and was saddened by sorrow, Yogi was one who remained unruffled in all conditions of life. It is the achievement of this state that we must all strive for. Lasting happiness is a possibility only if we understand God’s word. For His word is intellect and intellect can unshackle us from temporary joys.

The sant said, “Nothing in this world is capable of delivering absolute happiness and nothing can alleviate complete suffering. God’s name is the sole saviour”.

The discourse was interspersed with verses from Guru Granth Sahib.

He also had a message for the journalists present on the occasion. He asked them to use their medium to uncover the exploitation of women in MNCs that led to the denigration of our culture. He gave out a strong message against Valentine’s Day. According to Bapu Asaram, there is a correlation between rising instance of AIDS and the breakdown of culture symbolised by foreign concepts like Valentine’s Day.

An ayurvedic camp for common and chronic disease was also set up on the occasion. The disciples also arranged a ‘bhandara’ for everyone at the satsang. They performed pandal sewa, traffic parking and food service during the event. The satsang would also be held tomorrow in two shifts.



Sacked staff cry foul
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 17
Fortythree contractual junior lab technicians of GMCH-32, who have long been involved in a battle for equal pay with the authorities, are a harried lot today. After having been terminated from service by GMCH-32, they allege that their rights have been violated and the authorities have fired them deliberately.

They have been fighting to get a pay of Rs 7,968, given to regular employees. They are drawing only Rs 4,020.

These employees have also been asking for implementation of sub-rule (v) (a) of the Contractual Labour Regulation and Abolition Act 1970, which says in cases where the workman employed by the contractor performs similar work as the workman employed by the principal employer (GMCH-32 in this case), wage rates and other service conditions of the two shall be the same.

At a press conference today, the lab technicians terminated said the GMCH-32 had not implemented the above-stated rule despite repeated instruction issued by Chandigarh DC, also the Labour Commissioner and the competent authority to hear the dispute in question.

Due to non-implementation of the said rule, licence of the contractor who employed the 43 technicians in question had not been renewed since January 1.



Travel agent denies role in fake visa case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 17
In connection with the case of fake visa racket, which was busted by immigration officials at Indira Gandhi International Airport on June 11, Ms Kamaljeet Kaur, proprietor of Mohali-based travel agency B.S. Overseas Ltd, has said she had merely forwarded the names of the youths to Sandal Travels, Sector 34, Chandigarh, for booking their tickets for Dubai.

She said, “The entire exercise of booking the tickets was carried out on the demand of the Jalandhar-based company, Blue Arrow. We have no role in the case”. The stamp of ECNR (emigration check not required) on the passports of the youths were found to be fake.

It may be mentioned that the name B.S. Enterprises has inadvertently mentioned in place of BS Overseas in these columns on June 14. The name of B.S. Overseas had figured in the case after Sandal Travels had claimed that the tickets were booked by the travel agency.



13 Type House residents seek ownership
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 17
The UT Joint Action Committee (13 Type House) today organised a meeting demanding that the houses they occupy should be sold to them the same way as in Sectors 24, 19 and 15.

Such houses are allocated in Sectors 28, 27, 20, 19, 7, 10, 16 and 23, besides certain others. The meeting was addressed by Mr Surinder Singh, MC Mayor, who assured to take up the genuine demands.

The residents also demanded that in case administration was planning to construct multi-storeyed building on the land then they should be allotted one flat each.



Lions Club meeting today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 17
Lions Club International, District 321 F, will organise a “Gurukul” tomorrow for its 140 club presidents, secretaries, treasurers, PROs and cabinet members at Shagun hotel, under the leadership of the newly elected district governor R.K. Rana.

During the session, participants will be educated and informed about the working of Lions International and the district programme to be carried out throughout the year.

Mr Sushil Agrawala, former international director, will be the chief guest and Mr Ajay Budh Raj will be the guest of honour.



Yoga camp at Zirakpur

Zirakpur, June 17
Scores of residents of Zirakpur and surrounding areas participated in the seven-day yoga and meditation camp organised by the Sanjh Dilan Di Sports Club at Sharma Farm on the first day here today.

Yoga guru Swami Sukh Ram and his disciple Yogacharya Anil Juneja gave tips on different asanas to the participants. They also demonstrated at a platform and were subsequently followed by the health conscious participants. A large number of elderly women and men took part in the camp with great zeal. — TNS



Accused identified in liquor shop attack case
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, June 17
The police has succeeded in making headway in the Sector 16 liquor shop attack case in which a gang of armed miscreants had struck at a liquor shop and an ‘ahata’ on Wednesday night. The miscreants had gone berserk and smashed the windowpanes and liquor bottles besides leaving four employees seriously injured.

The police has already identified a suspended constable of Haryana police and an auto thief for their involvement in the case. The police has also seized a car used by the miscreants in the crime.

According to Mr Balbir Singh, SP, Panchkula, a majority of the members of the gang have been identified. Raids are being carried out at the suspected hideouts of the suspects. The SP, however, refused to disclose the identity of the suspects.

While talking to Chandigarh Tribune, the SP said that teams have been sent to bordering areas of Himachal Pradesh and other surrounding townships in Haryana and Punjab, to nab the suspects. He also claimed to have arranged sufficient clues to arrest the miscreants.



Man killed in road mishap
Our Correspondent

Mohali, June 17
Jagmohan of Retgarh village was killed when he was allegedly hit by a canter.

According to the police, Chander Mohan had complained that his brother was injured during an accident. He was admitted to the local Civil Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

In another case, tractor parts were stolen from a factory in Phase IX, Industrial Area, here.



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