C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S



Kitchen budget goes through the roof
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Illustration by Sandeep Joshi Chandigarh, June 26
Tomato costs Rs 40 per kg in the city. It cost only Rs 10 about a month ago. Bottle gourd now costs Rs 16 per kg but was Rs 8 per kg about a fortnight ago. The prices of lemon have also gone up to Rs 40-45 per kg.

A buyer now also pays for coriander which need to come free with vegetable earlier. Chilies also came free with purchase. No one buys these in bulk but the item costs Rs 100 per kg, a shopkeeper said. Potato costs Rs 14-18 per kg.

There is likely to be no respite in the prices of vegetables for another fortnight till the monsoon arrives, a vegetable vendor in Sector 37 said. “The prices at the grain market and apni mandi may be a bit lower, however, a majority of the people purchase from rehris and vendors. They pay higher prices with slight alterations in different areas,”, the vendor said.

A former Deputy Mayor from the Congress said Delhi had taken an appreciable step by deciding to sell tomato at Rs 20 per kg. The Prime Minister had assured to look into the issue.

The prices of vegetables are a small indication of the steep hike in prices of dry ration over the past months. Sugar, which cost about Rs 17 earlier, is now Rs 22.

Moongi sabat costs Rs 48 per kg, dhuli Rs 54 and chilka Rs 52. Masar dal costs Rs 36 per kg, urad dal Rs 54-Rs 60 per kg, and white chana Rs 48. Besides a major hike, the prices have almost doubled in certain cases like moongi masar during the past two months. Good quality common salt costs more than Rs 10 per kg”, Ms Shakuntla Devi of Sector 38 said.

Mr Rohit Gawri, Peshawaria Supermarket, said: “flour cost Rs 115 per 10 kg some time back. It now costs Rs 145 on an average. The price hike is a result of soaring land prices.”

A grocery shopowner in Sector 38 said the imposition of VAT had led to more traders paying tax to the government which had percolated down to customers.

Mr Sanjay Kumar, a shopkeeper in Sector 15. said: “Comman man bears the burden of the prices in the ultimate analysis. Shopkeepers at the same time are facing a peculiar situation when they approach wholesellers and later when they face customers”.

“We are asked why such a big hike? Suppliers say that they are not receiving enough supply from depots. There is and acute shortage. The prices have stabilised during the past month, however, there was a very steep hike before that,” he said.

Mr Satya Pal Jain, former MP, said: “Maintaining price stability was the task of the government. It is surprising that the local MP has not uttered a single word on the issue. He has also not spoken about reducing VAT on petrol.”

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VAT reduced to 4 pc on 89 items
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 26
In an important decision, Chandigarh Administration has decided to reduce VAT from 12.5 per cent to 4 per cent on 89 items as done by the Punjab Government, an official press release said here today.

These include hand tools, cutting tools, threading tools, power tools, grinding wheels, abrasive, hardware of iron and steel, such as aldrops, latches, handles, hinges,

Door springs and door stoppers whether polished, enamelled, paper, paper board and newsprint, including ammonia paper, blotting paper, carbon paper, cellophane, PVC coated paper, tissue paper, art boards, card boards, corrugated box, duplex board, pulp board, straw board, file cover other than plastic file covers and file boards excluding photographic paper and waste paper, besides others.

The official release said that with switching over to the VAT regime in the UT, the VAT provisions of the state of Punjab have been followed in letter and spirit. The rates of VAT on various items were also kept at par with that of the rates prevailing in the state of Punjab. On January 1, Punjab amended its VAT schedules and almost 89 items mainly pertaining to industrial inputs were brought under VAT rate of 4 per cent from 12.5 per cent.

The industrialists of the UT also sought similar treatment of tax structure on these items. After considering their genuine demand, it has been decided by the Chandigarh Administration to bring all these items from the present rate structure of 12.5 per cent to 4 per cent.

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No land allotted even after 23 years
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, June 26
After dedicating 38 years of his life to the Indian Air Force (IAF), a retired Flying Officer SS Mehndiratta has been running from pillar to post for getting his land from the Delhi Development Authorities (DDA) for the past over 23 years.

The land in Bhagwanpura Colony opposite Samaypur village near Azadpur Sabji Mandi was acquired by the DDA for merger with Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar, Delhi, in 1983.

Staying with his family in a two-room rented accommodation in Sector 8, Panchkula, ordeal of a former IAF officer has not ended even though he has turned 75 and is suffering from cardiac disease. His correspondences through IAF channels to Lieutenant-Governor of the Delhi Government besides the Delhi Chief Minister Sheela Dixit and other top officials of the DDA for getting the land back or compensation with allotment of alternate plot have failed to change his fate till date.

With a dream to have his own home, Mr Mehndiratta (33SU of the IAF) had purchased the land (200 sq yard) in his wife Prem Lata Mehndiratta's name in Bhagwanpura Colony in July 1970 since he was posted at various places and could not regularly visit the place. During his visit to the colony in 1977, Mr Mehndiratta found that the government had carried out a major demolition drive in the village and the boundary wall around his plot was also erased.

Mr Mehndiratta said he got a first information report (FIR) registered at Samaypur police station in January, 1977 thought the IAF channel from Jodhpur, his place of posting at that time. The matter was also taken up by Administrative Reforms Department (Grievances Redressal and Anti-corruption Cell) of the Delhi Administration with the Delhi Vigilance Department.

After investigating the matter, the Vigilance Department in June, 1990 told the Delhi Administration as well as the complainant that the land of Bhagwanpura village had been acquired by the DDA for the Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar and the same was handed over to the Municipal Corporation, Delhi (MCD). The complainant was also asked to contact the DDA for the allotment of an alternate plot.

The letter brought Mr Mehndiratta a hope, and seeking an alternate plot he again wrote to the DDA. His hopes to get compensation and an alternate plot were dashed to ground after the DDA told him (November 20, 1990) to pursue the case before Sub-divisional Magistrate, Kingsway Camp, as the DDA was not concerned with the issue any more.

A representation (December 26, 1991) of his grievances to the Lieutenant-Governor of Delhi also failed to get response.

Mr Mehndiratta said that after 19 years he received a letter from the DDA demanding documents and proofs, if any, land was purchased in Bhagwanpura village so that necessary action could be taken.

"I again produced each document staking my claim for the land following which the authorities informed me that the compensation for the land will be awarded by the Land Acquisition Collector as per the Land Acquisition Act 1894," claimed Mr Mehndiratta.

"The case was then shifted to the Land and Building Department of the DDA for the allotment of alternative land and the compensation. I personally visited officials concerned a number of times but of no use", he claimed.

Repeated representation to the Delhi Chief Minister Ms Sheela Dixit, and Land Secretary, Government of National Capital Territory, Land Acquisition Collector, New Delhi and Deputy Commissioner, North-West, Kanjawala, New Delhi, have gathered dust at their respective offices, the retired flying officer lamented.

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Anti-Drug Day
‘My mother prayed for my death’

On the occasion of the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, The Tribune reporter, Pradeep Sharma, spoke to a former drug addict who escaped from the jaws of death, courtesy the Narcotics Anonymous (NA).

Here is the first hand account:

“My name is Satyam. I was born in an orthodox Brahmin family in Jalandhar having no drug or alcohol abuse history. Quite religious by nature, my parents doted on me as I was the only child.

However, by the time I joined the college, I had my first brush with drugs—cocaine to be precise. Firstly, it was a mere curiosity as my peer group was hooked to drugs.

In 1994, I got enrolled in a postgraduate course at Panjab University, Chandigarh. Red light on the majestic Ambassador left me awestruck and my eyes were set on the IAS.

Hostel provided an ideal opportunity for academic growth but my drug abuse went from bad to worse and my behaviour became erratic.

Two successive failures at the IAS (Mains) exam exhausted me physically and mentally. Drugs transported me to the fantasy world and their abuse became a routine affair and so did the blackouts. Failing to achieve success in reality, I found respite achieving them in fantasy.

My worried family tried to reason with me even as my friends avoided me.Irritated and dejected, I withdrew into my own world of drugs. Soon, I was a virtual slave to them.

Studies and the IAS all were now things of the past.

The year 1997 saw a fatal accident resulting in the death of a close friend riding pillion with me when I was high on drugs.

In the meantime, my parents tried every imagined remedy, including visits to tantriks, temples and doctors to cure me.

However, come what may, I had to had my daily quota. The drugs, coupled with liquor (sometimes country wine), worsened my condition.

Beg, borrow and steal became my motto. On couple of occasions, I landed up in a lock-up on theft charges.

Exhausting all channels, my father admitted me to a Delhi-based rehabilitation centre. After undergoing the rehabilitation therapy for two months, I swore to bid farewell to drugs.

But after coming back to Jalandhar, I was back to square one within a week. The next five years were a living hell for me and my family. Weeping bitterly, my mother prayed for my death almost every day when I began physically assaulting her.

I was confined to the corridor of our modest two-bedroom house along with the family dog. Most of the times, the dog seemed to be betterbehaved better than I.

Crazy things, including a couple of suicide attempts, followed. I wanted to kick drugs but there seemed to be no way out. It seemed the beginning of the end.

Perhaps, God had other plans for me. One fine morning, I glanced through a newspaper advertisement inserted by the NA. Desperate to come out of the mess I was in, I dialled the NA Helpline following which they invited me to attend NA meetings in Chandigarh.

I attended the meetings and by God’s grace, I began to stay away from drugs . A simple spiritual programme followed and I am clean for almost four years now.

I may not be an IAS officer, but I enjoy my work as a middle-level executive in a Delhi-based company.

I got married two years back and have a beautiful daughter. A miracle has happened in my life. I am trying to repair the damage I have done to my family and friends and want to take the NA message to the drug addicts who are still suffering.

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Anti-Drug Day
“Motivated can kick the killer drug”
Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News service

Chandigarh, June 26
"Alcohol, smoking, drugs. People are becoming exposed to these at a younger age as it is no longer a taboo to smoke or drink openly. Smoking rate is decreasing in the West due to adverse publicity, but increasing in developing countries such as in India", says Dr Simmi Waraich, a Consultant Psychiatrist at Fortis City Centre here.

She says it has becoming fashionable to take cocaine or heroin in the so-called party circuit in metropolitan cities. Unfortunately, the trend is not limited to big cities as smack is not hard to find even in places like Kurali or Kharar. Once into it, they do not know what to do if they want to quit drugs.

Dr Waraich says, "If a patient is motivated to quit drugs, he can do so either by getting admitted at a de-addiction centre or even by staying at home. But if a very high dose of heroin (smack) or intravenous drugs or raw opium is being used then it is wise to reduce it over one week and then to stop it completely".

De-addition centres are functioning in psychiatry department at the PGI, the Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, General Hospital, Sector 16, and most civil hospitals. Private psychiatrists can provide useful medication to assist in detoxification - the medicine substitutes for the substance and prevents withdrawal symptoms.

De-addiction must be done under medical care as withdrawal can cause seizures, delirium, dementia, anxiety, psychosis, etc.

For those who are habitual drug users and find it difficult to leave the habit or if additional complications such as an associated medical illness (e.g. liver damage, seizures) or an associated psychiatric disorder such as depression are there, then it is advisable to be admitted to some detox centre, says Dr. Waraich.

There are various detoxification and rehabilitation procedures available such as UROD, also known as anaesthesia-assisted opiate detoxification and is used for detoxifying opioid (smack and intravenous injections) -dependent patients. Withdrawal, which usually takes 15 days, gets over in five to eight hours.

The toughest part of the de-additional process is rehabilitation phase which starts after the initial detoxification over 15-20 days. This phase have to be accompanied by 'Motivation enhancement' sessions along with teaching 'coping skills' to deal with craving which can arise even for years after giving up the substance.

The most important aspect after detoxification is the help of support groups like "Alcohol Anonymous" or "Narcotics Anonymous" that help people stay away from drugs during periods when they are susceptible to a relapse.

According to Dr. Waraich, the proper rehabilitation centres sometimes keep patients admitted for three to six months and change in their lifestyle along with the coping skills taught there often help the chronic dependent person to redefine their lives.

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Say no to drugs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 26
An awareness programme was organised to commemorate “International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking” at Saheli Angan, a centre for adolescent girls run by the Society for Social Health, here today.

A poster-making contest was held on the theme which saw participation from girl members. Dr Naresh Anand spoke about the ill-effects of drugs and alcoholism on the human body and mind. Ms Kamaljit Saini, president of the organisation, urged the participants to say no to drugs and take the message to the public.

Meanwhile, the Public Welfare Association in collaboration with NSS volunteers and teachers belonging to Panjab University observed the day at the campus. Representatives from NGOs, social workers and community leaders participated in the function.

Inaugurating the seminar, Dr C.L. Narang, former Director, NSS and Adult Education, PU, said, “It is unfortunate that modern youth under the influence of false temptations and false formalities, has gone astray. He has become addicted to various vices specially drug addiction which is the most dangerous of all things.”

Mr Partap Singh, president of the association, speaking on the occasion, said surplus energy of youth should be channelised for nation building.

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Rally marks Anti-Drug Day
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, June 26
A rally and drawing competition marked Inter-national Day against drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking of Drug organised by the District Council for Child Welfare at the De-addiction Centre in Sector-15 here today.

Children from Budhanpur, Indira Colony and Rajiv Colony organised a rally that passed through various sectors of the city before culminating at the Centre. Deputy Commissioner, Brejindra Singh flagged off the rally. A drawing competition was also organised.

Ms Jasmeet Singh, Chairperson District Council for Child Welfare, Panchkula, expressed her concern over rising drug abuse among the youth.

She said out of 115 registered patients at the centre, 35 have been treated.

Akhilesh Kumar, Ravi and Kiran Kumari won the painting competition.

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Atray is PR Director
Tribune News Service

Vivek Atray
Vivek Atray

Chandigarh, June 26
Mr Vivek Atray is Director, Public Relations of the Chandigarh Administration, a press note said here today.

The Administration has also ordered certain other postings. Mr Atray will be Director, Public Relations and Cultural Affairs, and Director, Tourism. He will also look after the work relating to the ongoing projects of film-cum-multi media city, milk village/plan and education city.

He will be relieving Ms Raji P.Shrivastava of the additional charge of Director, Tourism, and Mr Daljeet Singh of the charge of Director, Public Relations and Cultural Affairs.

Mr Daljeet will take over as Director, Hospitality, Director, Technical Education (designated as Joint Secretary Technical Education) and Additional Director, Food and Supplies.

Mr Ankur Garg is SDM (South), Additional CEO (Projects), Chandigarh Housing Board and Joint Director of the Rural Development and Panchayat.

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Admn to appoint lecturers on contract
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 26
The Chandigarh Administration will appoint 67 lecturers (college cadre) on contract basis for academic session 2006-2007 in various colleges of the city, an official press statement said here today.

The candidates have been asked to submit an application on a plain paper, along with complete bio-data and copies of certificates/testimonials/experience, to the Principal of the colleges.

The administration has clarified that the applications complete in all respects should reach the Principal of the college concerned on or before July 4.

Direct interview will be held and no separate interview letter will be sent for the interview.

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Chandigarh Calling

Season of the harsh sun

The sun is at its harshest end-June when monsoon seems to be just round the corner. Beating the humid heat in the city has become a massive challenge and more so for those who make a living by the roadside. Tribune photographer brought this telling picture of fruit vendors. Forced to cit in the sun, one woman managed an umbrella but another one turned a jut-covered basket into a sunshade. Yes, the people of the city seem to be crying out for the rains.

Honourable task

Known for regularly organising blood-donation camps in and around Chandigarh, the Lions Club Chandigarh (Host) has been declared the third best club in the district 321-F of the International Lions Club at a function held in Ludhiana recently. The district has 140 clubs in various cities and towns of Punjab, including Bathinda, Fazilka, Ferozepore, Ludhiana, Abohar and Patiala. The Chandigarh club is one of the oldest clubs in the district. While its two members — Ms Nimmi Sandhu and Mr T.K. Magazine — have been declared second and third best committee chairperson, respectively, at the function, another member Mr R.R. Aneja declared the best secretary in the district.

Manmade nests

As garden birds are slowly disappearing from city areas due to lack of nesting sites in new buildings, the Environment Society of India has come to their rescue. It has decided to provide manmade nests to them. For this, used wooden cartons will be converted into bird nesting boxes. The boxes will be installed in various parks.

CTU makeover

The Chandigarh Transport Undertaking is in a mood for a complete ‘makeover’. Improving their services with each passing day they are surely earning oodles of good wishes. Firstly, new buses were added keeping in mind the disabled commuters. Then the fare was lowered to Rs.5 per trip, irrespective of the distance, and a grid system for the routes was also introduced for the better. But they still seem to be in a disposition to improve their services more. The latest from their kitty is the facility of STD and PCO services on the newly installed bus stands with a provision of packed goodies and mineral water. Not only the commuters but also the passer-bys can avail these services. One can see such outlets on the Madhya Marg bus stands and can’t wait praising the authorities for the same.

No etiquette

Etiquette is something that has to be learnt. The other day, two girls fell in the slush when their scooter slipped incidentally and they were left helpless. There were some young boys sitting nearby but all they did to help the girls was laugh. The girls beseeched the boys to lend a hand in pulling their scooter out of the slush. The boys did not budge and stared at them as the poor creatures somehow managed to pull the scooter out of the slush. They also passed some foolish remarks.

Inhuman trend

Poor human beings catching hold of banners and placards on the roadside of the city has become a new trend to grab the immediate attention of passersby and popularise the launched products and for other purposes. These days a few companies employ a couple of persons through this ‘novel’ but inhuman trick. It is a common sight to see the hired souls on their legs with banners, placards, etc in their hands, that too all day through. With the temperature rising over 40ºC, making them stay in the sun is too shocking for words. In a way, it amounts to human ‘exploitation’. Though it provides them a brief employment relief yet it’s a highly reprehensible act, which must be discouraged.

Contributors: Vishal Gulati, Akanksha Bansal, Pankhuri Sood, Tarundeep Aggarwal & Nirupama Dutt

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MC allows cabins in parking lots
Defies own norms
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 26
In violation of its own stand against allowing permanent structures in parking spaces — and in defiance of all norms — the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh has allowed steady cabins to come up in lots across the city.

Despite scathing criticism and even remonstrations by the residents and their welfare organisations, the authorities concerned have just not initiated steps to ensure the removal of these structures made out of tin or plastic sheets. Just in case you haven’t seen these repugnant structures, just drive down to the parking lot in Sector 35, 17 or any other place where the paid parking system is in existence. You will find them smudging the city’s face at one end or the other of the parking lot.

If these cabins jutting out at the end of the parking lots look out of place or have assumed the repute of “blot on Chandigarh’s status of world class city”, the corporation authorities are just not bothered about it, apparently.

“When Le Corbusier designed the city, he made sure that the structures gel with the surroundings and look natural,” says city-based architect Nisha Choudhary. “That is why even the embankments are made out of rocks and cobblestones. But now you have structures made out of metal sheets that look artificial and abnormal”.

This is not the end of it. These cabins have also assumed the character of retiring rooms for so many Chandigarh Police personnel deployed to maintain law and order in the lots, besides keeping a tab on the activities of vehicle thieves.

Just peep into the cabins and you will find so many men-in-khaki relaxing on the plastic chairs with feet on the table. Rather, so many of them have made part-time offices out of these cabins. Interestingly, only recently the corporation authorities had declared that rain or shine stable structures would not be allowed to come up in the parking lots all over the city. At the most the parking lot attendants would be allowed to install umbrellas at the entry and exit points for protection against overhead sun’s direct rays, or from showers.

In an attempt to justify the existence of these structures in lots, a senior corporation officer says that the cabins may be stable in nature but are not permanent as these are made of sheets and not bricks. “These can be removed and even carried away within minutes,” he asserts. Regarding these structures blemishing the city’s look, he refuses to answer.

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Airport security in for a major makeover
Vishal Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 26
A high-profile Central Industrial Security Force delegation is currently visiting the UK to preview the working of modern airport security technology, including human scanners and computer-aided profiling system (CAPS).

The visit comes in the wake of a preliminary proposal submitted by the Central Industrial Security Force(CISF) to the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

The proposal has suggested the installation of scanners and other advanced equipment to thwart the burgeoning terror and drug-peddling menace.

Confirming that a suggestion has been given to the AAI and the ministry, Mr P.P. Singh, DC, Airport, CISF, told The Tribune that a high-profile delegation was already in the UK to have a preview of the functioning of human scanners and CAPS.

“The CISF chief, Mr S.I.S. Ahmed, along with other senior officials, is in the UK to study modern security equipment.

“The final proposal would be drawn after their return and submitted to the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Ministry of Home Affairs,” Mr Singh informed.

The current method of employing X-ray machines to trace out spurious substances inside the body of a passenger is not particularly effective in checking drug smuggling in the country, feel security experts.

The need of the hour is thus to go in for a state-of-the-art technology of human scanners and CAPS as used in the West, including the UK and the USA.

The human scanner is a refrigerator-like box where radiations of low intensity are thrown on the passenger and his entire anatomy becomes visible on the computer screen linked to the scanner.

CAPS, too, is equally effective and even reveals whether a person’s anatomy and body measurements match that of any terrorist or not. The Indira Gandhi International Airport may become the first airport to use the technology.

The CISF had requested the Civil Aviation Ministry to allow installation of human body scanners at 16 airports in the country categorised as hypersensitive, the official said.

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Mohali industrialists protest against PSEB
Tribune News Service

Mohali, June 26
More than 50 industrialists from Mohali participated in a meeting held at the Mohali Industries Association (MIA) Bhawan to show resentments against unscheduled power cuts by the Punjab State Electricity Board.

Representatives from the small-scale industries were agitated as they were suffering huge production losses on account of unscheduled cuts. “There was no power supply from 8 am on June 24, (Saturday) up to 12 noon this morning, a cut of more than 52 hours cut. This cut is besides the peak load restrictions,” pointed out the MIA president, Mr Balbir Singh, adding that due to the power cuts, industries were unable to fulfill their commitments of the supply and were incurring heavy production losses.

Mr Balbir Singh said when Mohali was given the status of a district the Chief Minister had announced that Mohali industries would be free from power cuts. The consensus between the industrialists was that if their minimum power requirements were not met, they would resort to agitation.

“The minimum requirements of the industry are 12 hours’ continuous power supply for six days in a week. There should be no power cut in the day time i.e. 7 am to 7 pm. Further the power cut should not be more than 24 hours at one go.

The members also demanded that there should be no discrimination of supply of power phase-wise within Mohali. All industries should be treated on par and no permissions should be required to install diesel generation sets for all industries till PSEB was able to meet the power demand fully.

It was unanimously adopted that in case the requirements of industries were not met, they would file a complaint with the Punjab Electricity Regulatory Authority and even resort to further agitation.

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BJP protest against price hike
Tribune News Service

Mohali, June 26
BJP members today held the UPA government responsible for the rising prices of all essential commodities. The price hike was not a result of any natural calamity, but a “manufactured crisis” by the UPA, they said, marking a protest in front of the DC’s office here.

The protest was led by national secretary Harjit Singh Grewal, Mr Khushwant Rai Gigga, district president BJP Mohali, and BJP’s youth leader Vineet Joshi, who criticised the irrational taxation policy of the Union Government on petroleum products and termed it as the main cause of the rise in prices.

They slammed the UPA government’s seventh petroleum price hike in just two years.

Mr Grewal said the government had failed on both counts, firstly, by not taking timely decisions and secondly, because of its anti-people policies.

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Bhatti takes dig at price rise
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 26
Jaspal Bhatti, a renowned comedian, took a dig at the Central Government for not being able to control the sky-rocketting prices of pulses and vegetables. Bhatti along with his wife Savita was seen in Sector 17 shopping complex of the city today adorning vegetable “jewellery”.

Savita was wearing a necklace made from tomatoes and ladyfingers. She wore a hat which sported “tindas’ and tomatoes.

Bhatti said “A woman’s joy knows no bound when she knows that she is wearing something that her friends cannot afford.” He cautioned her not to venture on the city roads as there was a likelihood of onlookers snatching the “vegetable jewellery” and running away.

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Fauji Beat
Need for setting up more helplines

A lady officer in summer mess dress
A lady officer in summer mess dress

Over 50,000 defence personnel retire every year with meagre pensions. Most of them are not only in their young age but also have a host of problems on their hands such as completing the education of their children and settling them in life. It is an established fact that no government organisation can help ex-servicemen and widows as much as their own brethren in uniform.

No doubt, the ball was set rolling by establishing ex-servicemen helplines at various commands and corps a few years ago. But this is not enough. More vigorous efforts are required to set up helplines down to the brigade level. The laudable motto of the Western Command Ex-servicemen Helpline:

“You have served the nation proud, it is our turn now to serve you”, should be remembered by all helplines.

An ex-servicemen helpline was established at Akhnoor in J&K, the other day by Lieut-Gen Sudhir Sharma, General Officer Commanding of a corps, in the presence of about 600 ex-servicemen from Akhnoor, Jaurian, Pallanwala and Sunderbani. To address the problems of ex-servicemen and widows, special helpline cells have been opened by all brigades in that area, which have a data bank on the ex-servicemen and widows with the details of their problems. This example should be emulated by all other formations.

Cantonments must be retained

Some people think that cantonments, like the cantonment boards, are also a relic of the colonial era and are, therefore, no more relevant in a democratic set up where military personnel and civilians should live together to promote better understanding between them. This thinking is not correct because the cantonments existed even before the British era.

Troops are housed in the separate areas in almost all countries. In the USA, these areas are known as forts but they are similar to our cantonments. Troops should not be kept with the civilian population for security reasons and to maintain good discipline as also to prevent them from getting involved in the local politics.

Besides, they need spacious parade grounds and training areas in the vicinity of their living accommodation. Not only that, the pattern of a soldier’s daily routine is different from that of a civilian as his activities start much before the dawn breaks.

Early morning bugle calls and other hectic activities like road walk and run, parades with loud words of command, etc, can cause a great discomfort to the civilian population if military units are stationed in towns.

Another advantage of the troops living separately in the cantonments is that at the outbreak of a disease or an epidemic, affected towns and civil areas can easily be placed out of bounds for the troops.

Members denied medical equipment

Certain items of medical equipment are authorised to the Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) members, provided these are recommended by specialists and senior advisers at the military hospitals. These items are hearing aids, nebulisers, glucometers and specialised medical equipment for sleep disorders, etc.

Several members of this scheme have complained during the last one year that despite their cases having been recommended by the specialists and senior advisers, they have not been provided with this equipment.

“Why were these rules framed if they were not to be followed”, most of them say. They call it a breach of trust and betrayal by the ECHS authorities. Some of them have purchased the equipment form their own pockets.

Mess dresses

Of all the dresses that an Army officer wears, the mess dresses are more elegant.

These dresses have undergone some changes over the years and are different for different occasions, both for the summer and winter. A strict dress code has to be followed by all officers while attending the mess functions.

— Pritam Bhullar

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Bijli nigam man electrocuted
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, June 26
Dharam Singh, an employee of the Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam, was today electrocuted when he was repairing a high tension power line here. He was rushed to the Sector 6 General Hospital, where he was declared brought dead.

A resident of Barwala village, Dharam was repairing the Kotola-Rehan line when the mishap took place.

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Inmates accuse hostel cook of sex abuse
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 26
Inmates of Amarjain Hostel in Sector 27-B here boycotted their hostel mess after they allegedly caught the cook when he was having unnatural sex within hostel premises on the intervening night of June 21 and June 22.

The inmates alleged that despite the fact that they had informed the hostel superintendent about the incident and the authorities concerned, no action had been taken against the cook even though he was caught during the act.

The hostellers alleged that not only the hostel authorities but the Chandigarh Police also failed to proceed against the guilty.

The inmates of the hostel, in a complaint to the committee members of the hostel, alleged that a high drama ensued after they caught 45-year-old Lal Chand, cook, having unnatural sex with a stranger late in the night on June 21.

After nabbing both of them, they went to the residence of the superintendent of the hostel, Mr Swaran Singh, to inform him about the incident when they failed to contact him on phone.

Talking to the Chandigarh Tribune, the boys alleged that the superintendent tried to shield the cook and asked them to cool down.

But the agitated students refused to buy his assurances and insisted on reporting the matter to the police.

Meanwhile, seeing commotion on the premises of hostel late in the night, a patrolling police party came there.

Despite the fact that the cook and the stranger admitted to their ‘crime’, the police did not take any action against them after Swaran Singh intervened and told the police that he would look into the matter.

Instead of taking action against the cook, the superintendent asked the agitating students to leave the hostel, alleged the boys.

When contacted, Swaran Singh admitted that the inmates had boycotted the mess.

He added that he neither refused nor accepted the allegations and said he was unclear about the matter as he was not in the hostel that night.

He, however, said, “The boys are making a hue and cry over a non issue. It all started when the cook refused to cook non-vegetarian meal for some of the boys, following which they made it a prestige issue to get him thrown out of the hostel and are levelling all sorts of allegations against him.

“Even if the cook had done something wrong, it will take time to replace him as he is working with us for the past over 20 years.”

Mr Pawan Kumar Jain, the president of the hostel, said, “Students are bullying the cook. They are creating nuisance. We charge a nominal fee of Rs 2050 per student, including every thing from boarding to food.

“The boys sometimes called their guests and when the cook objected to their activities, they made it an issue to force him to leave the hostel.

“My inquiry revealed that they were known to each other and the stranger was a driver. The inmates have also made vulgar caricatures in the hostel.”

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Two killed in road accidents
Tribune News Service

Lalru, June 26
Two persons were killed and one seriously injured in two accidents on the Chandigarh-Ambala road since last night.

According to police sources, the first accident took place near here around 4 am when a jeep coming from Chandigarh side collided head-on with a truck. The jeep driver, Sanjeev Kumar, a resident of Pinjore, died on the spot and his brother Bhoj Raj was seriously injured.

The police has registered a case against the truck driver.

In the second accident, Updesh, (25) hailing from UP, was run over by an unidentified vehicle near Dapper village last night.

A case has been registered.

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One killed in road accident
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 26
A 26-year-old Manimajra resident succumbed to his injuries at PGI, here, this morning. He along with another person was going on his scooter, which was hit by a CTU bus near Garcha Turn in the Industrial Area on Sunday afternoon.

Giving details, sources in the Industrial Area Police Station said the victim, Himmat Singh of Vikas Nagar, Mauli Jagran, and Sunil Kumar of Police Lines, Sector 26, were going towards Sector 26 when their scooter collided with a CTU bus, which was coming from the Railway Lights Point.

The accident took place at 2.45 pm and the injured were rushed to PGI. Himmat Singh sustained multiple injuries while Sunil, who was riding pillion, escaped with minor injuries.

The police said, Himmat Singh died at PGI at around 11 am. The bus driver, Balbir Singh of Morinda, was arrested in this regard and a case of causing death due to rash and negligent driving was registered against him. meanwhile the body was handed over to the family after a post-mortem examination.

Two held for stealing

The police arrested two persons on the allegation of stealing a television and claimed to have recovered the stolen property from their possession.

The police said Mr Rajesh Kumar of Balmiki Mohalla in Manimajra lodged a complaint alleging that Saleem and Chand of Uttar Pradesh had stolen a television set form his residence during the intervening night of June 24 and 25. Acting on the complaint the police managed to nab the accused from the level crossing near Pipliwala Town on Sunday night. A case was registered in this regard at the Manimajra police station.

Scooter stolen

Mr Suresh Kumar of Sector 15 reported to the police alleging that his scooter (CH-03-V-7188) was stolen from the market area in Sector 15 on Saturday. A case of theft was lodged in the Sector 11 police station.

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One killed in road mishap
Tribune News Service

Mohali, June 26
A man was killed after being hit by a truck while crossing a road in Dappar on Sunday.

Giving details, sources in the Lalru police Station said, Darshan Singh of Nabha in Patiala district lodged a complaint alleging that an unidentified truck hit Updesh, son of Ziledar, while he was crossing the road. The victim reportedly died on the spot. A case of causing death due to rash and negligent driving has been registered against the unidentified driver.

Poppy husk seized

The Sohana police arrested Rakesh Kumar of Chadiala Soodan village and seized 15 kg of the poppy husk from his possession on Sunday. The police said the accused was carrying the contraband in his scooter. A case under Section 21 of the NDPS Act was registered in this regard.

Liquor seized

The Mohali police has arrested Parkash of Sector 52 on the allegations of carrying nine bottles of country-made liquor on Sunday. A case under the Excise Act has been lodged in this connection.

Motorcycle stolen

Mr Jagtar Singh of Lalru reported to the police alleging that his Bajaj Boxer motorcycle was stolen from the Bus Stand at Dera Bassi on Sunday. A case of theft has been registered in this regard.

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Handloom expert worried over shrinking market
Tribune News Service

Zahid Hussain
Zahid Hussain

Chandigarh, June 26
“The artisans are endowed with considerable amount of human capital. However, they are constrained by the insignificant size of the market for their products”, said Mr Zahid Hussain, Managing Director, Jammu and Kashmir Handloom Development Corporation while addressing a buyer-seller meet on “J & K handloom industry: march of tradition in the domain of modernity” organised jointly by the Confederation of Indian industry (ClI) and the corporation here today.

Mr Hussain also mentioned that in case of handloom industry the marketing channel between the producer and the ultimate consumer was almost non-existent. Consequently, the capacity of the artisans to imbibe new technologies for treatment of raw material, produce new products and produce them in good quantities is far below the level of sustenance.”

While giving his presentation on the variety of exclusive handloom products manufactured by the corporation, Mr Hussain hoped to achieve forward linkage with Chandigarh market through franchisees, wholesalers and distributors. He said, “These products have been manufactured for high-end market keeping in mind the preference of modern retail industry and tradition of India”.

Speaking about the flexibility and versatility of handloom sector, he said, “The strength of handloom lies in introducing innovative designs which cannot be replicated by the power loom sector.” Urging the need to revive the handloom sector, he mentioned, “Hand-woven fabric is the product of Indian tradition, the inspiration of the culture ethos of the weavers.” Innovative weavers with their skilful blending of myths, faiths, symbols and imagery provide the fabric and appealing dynamism, he further added.

Mr Hussain stated, “The corporation has focused on evolving market-oriented products and to achieve desired results. The national-level designers are integrating contemporary designs and colour choices to present the market with excellent blend of tradition and modernity.”

Meanwhile, the corporation showcased their exclusive products at the venue. The products on display comprised light weight finer tweed, suited for formal, informal coats and jackets, fine quality exclusive hand-woven shawls in contemporary designs and colours, exclusive hand-woven Pashmina shawls with hand embroidery in antique designs retrieved from international museums, private collections and historical documents and fine quality exportable cotton fabric and made up with embellishments in hand embroidery, hand printing and other forms of value addition.

Delegates from hosiery, textile, retail and shawl industries participated in the meet.

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