C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S

Power cuts leave farmers in distress
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

  • Four blocks of Panchkula reel under power cuts, failed water supply
  • Four to eight hours of power supply in most villages
  • Tubewells practically non-functional
  • Farmers suffer most damage

Panchkula, August 19
If the power and water situation in the city is bad, it is even worse in the four blocks of the district which are reeling under unannounced power cuts while tubewells have gone dry and farming and crops have been hit.

Villagers in the blocks of Pinjore, Raipur Rani, Morni and Barwala rue that they get power supply for anything between four and seven hours while the water supply is normal only when there is electricity.

Of these, Barwala and Raipur Rani are the worst hit where villagers get power supply for just about four hours in shifts. On lucky days, they get two hours of electricity supply at a stretch.

Sunil Kumar, Sarpanch of Manak Tibra village, says, “It’s never been so bad — there’s no power and water supply, too, is playing truant. We get power for an hour or two during the day and a couple of hours during the night. Without power, the tubewells too are non-functional and the crops of maize and rice are bearing the brunt of paucity of water.”

One of the big farmers of the area who has planted sugarcane, maize and rice, Karam Chand, laments, “My entire rice crop has dried up. I don’t feel like going to my farm which wears a forlorn look. All investment, mine and that borrowed from an arhtiya, has gone waste for want of water and electricity. Who will meet the damages we have suffered on account of power cuts? We don’t get electricity for nearly 16 hours a day. The few hours that we do get supply is interrupted by frequent cuts.”

Rorkee farmer Hira Singh, too, narrates a similar story and is perturbed with the power situation. “What will I do to repay my debts if the crop fails? I have borrowed money to sow the crop and now, from the way things are, I don’t think things will work out for me. We should get some kind of insurance cover in case the government can’t improve things,” he suggests.

Barwala, too, has a similar story where farmers with small and large holdings are suffering because of a failed water supply. “The pressure of water is so poor that there is no water to feed the farms. We barely manage to fill enough drinking water to meet our daily requirements,” explains Rajpal Singh of Toka village.

A PCO owner in Raipur Rani, Vijender Kaushik, admits that power and water are a problem, not only for the farm sector but for the common man as well. “There are so many things which are not possible without power supply — computer typing, welding works and fax. All kinds of works are suffering and the common man is at the receiving end,” he adds.

In Pinjore, Nachhitar Kaur, Sarpanch of Manakpur Nanakchand, maintains that the entire village is grumbling. “We don’t know whom to turn to for power and water. The days are spent in wait of power and the nights are becoming more and more restless. There is not much farming in my area but water shortage is still pinching us. It is a torture to be sitting without power and water,” she asserts.

Balram Prashar of Tipra village says that though power cuts are frequent in the area and water supply affected, the SDO in charge has been accommodating enough to provide water at odd hours. “On the request of villagers, he even gives us water well past the usual timings to coincide with power availability,” he explains.

Morni, too, has its own fair share of problems which stem from power and water supply failure. “We sit and listen to the radio under the shade of trees. Children, however, are the worst sufferers in this muggy weather. It’s difficult to go to school and equally problematic to sit at home,” maintains a village elder. 



Preneet declares relief package
SAD prepares for final showdown
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

  • Rs 50,000 compensation to each family
  • Probe goes to the crime branch; SHO shifted
  • Cases against villagers to be withdrawn
  • Immediate commissioning of new sub-station
  • Rs 30 lakh grant for sports stadium

Lalru, August 19
The Patiala MP, Ms Preneet Kaur, and the Punjab Government today sought to end the tug-of-war with the Shiromani Akali Dal(SAD) over the alleged police brutality on Lalru villagers on August 11 night in their favour by announcing a major relief package.

Ms Preneet Kaur, accompanied by the Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, accepted all major demands of the villagers, taking the steam off the indefinite strike started by the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). However, the SAD seemed to be preparing for the final assault with the party supremo, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, visiting the township tomorrow to announce the future course of action.

A visibly moved Ms Preneet Kaur termed the episode as “unfortunate” after visiting the families of alleged police brutality. In a bid to assuage the feelings of the villagers, the MP announced a compensation of Rs 50,000 to each of the affected family. She promised immediate commissioning of the 220 kv sub-station at Saidpura to end the power woes of the township, which led to the August 11 episode.

Moreover, the probe into the alleged police high-handedness has been entrusted with the crime branch, which would submit its report in a week’s time. The local SHO, Mr Nachhattar Singh Bhullar, has also been shifted. The villagers arrested by the police would be released and cases against them withdrawn, Mr Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, said.

While Ms Preneet Kaur was guarded in her criticism of the SAD-BJP government, Mr Singla blamed the previous government for the electricity crisis in the state which led to the Lalru incident. In a bid to score political point over the SAD, he announced Rs 30 lakh for a sports stadium in the strategic township.

The township today resembled a virtual cantonment. The DC, Mr Tejvir Singh, and the SSP, Mr Naunihal Singh, supervised the arrangements. The agitating SAD activists today showed black flags to dignitaries and raised slogans against the Punjab Government.

It may be recalled that a delegation of the Congress, led by the Vice-Chairman of the Punjab State Industrial Development Corporation (PSIDC), Mr Deepinder Dhillon, had brought the matter to the notice of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and his wife.



My son has been framed, says Barnala
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 19
The Tamil Nadu Governor, Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, today said his son; MLA Gaganjit Singh had been framed in the alleged rape case.
While leaving for Barnala town to attend a ceremony in connection with the death anniversary of late Akali leader Sant Harchand Singh Longowal at Longowal tomorrow, he further said, “I will not say anything beyond this as it may hamper the investigations.”

Asked on what grounds he could say that the case was a false one, Mr Barnala said, “Everybody knows that it is a false case. I can not elaborate on this as it will not be fair to the investigations.” About how the family had reacted to the episode, he said, “Being a father I can say I was pained and anguished when I heard about it.

Mr Barnala, who met the Punjab Governor and Chandigarh Administrator, General S F Rodrigues (retd), earlier in the day, said he had made a brief reference to his son’s case during the visit as it was courtesy call. He said he had told General Rodrigues that the family was hoping for a “fair investigation” into the case.

Meanwhile, the defence counsel of Gaganjit Singh Barnala today decided to move a fresh bail application in the alleged rape case involving him after the Additional District and Session Judge, Mr RS Baswana, said it was too early to decide on it as the DNA reports and the findings of the CFSL were still awaited.

The prosecution submitted before the court that DNA report would take another 10 days while the report of the blood samples of the rape victim was also yet to be received. The MLA had moved a bail application on August 14.

Meanwhile, the MLA’s counsel while arguing the case said “some pressure group” was working behind it as Gaganjit belonged to a political family and some elements were trying to damage their reputation.



Admn acts to power the consumer
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 19
In order to streamline and bring transparency in the functioning of the Electricity Department and to reduce harassment of the public, the Chandigarh Administration has taken several steps and set a definite time frame for disposal of various issues relating to the public.

It has been decided that no consumer will be rendered bills on an average basis for a second time. If any consumer receives a bill on an average basis for the second time, the SDO concerned will be held responsible for this and the consumer has to bring this to the notice of the Chief Engineer.

Any complaint regarding incorrect or excess billing from the consumer will be personally received by SDOs during the first half on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The disposal of the complaints has to be ensured by the SDOs concerned within four days positively. Any failure to do this has to be brought to the notice of the Chief Engineer.

For release of new connections/extension of load, it has been decided that all applications for new connections/enhancement of load will be received by the SDOs concerned in the first half of every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. No incomplete application will be received by the SDO. Consumers will be informed of the shortcomings there and then only so that no objections are raised afterwards. The SDO/Revenue Accountant concerned will help prospective consumers fill in the requisite forms/documents.

The new connections with load less than 5 kw (single phase) will be released within seven days positively and no estimate/demand notice shall be issued to the consumer. Instead, the test report shall be taken along with the application.

For load more than 5 kw, where no augmentation of the system is required, the demand notice shall be issued within five days and the connection within five days after receipt of the test report. The consumer will be informed about the tentative date of release of connection. In case of extension of load, to be applied by existing consumers, it shall be considered deemed released on the day it is applied and payment is received. The list of pending cases, where the connections have not been released, shall be intimated by the Executive Engineer concerned to the Secretary, Engineering/Chief Engineer/Superintending Engineer, fortnightly.

It has also been decided that representatives of the Industries Association shall also be members of the dispute settlement committees.



Muddy water supply
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 19
Residents of Sectors 48, 49, 50 and 51 are getting mud in drinking water supply since last evening. The residents complained that they were not only facing an acute shortage of drinking water but also had no clean water for cooking. According to officials in the Municipal Corporation the situation would persist for the next three to four days and there was nothing much that they can do about it.

While MC officials claimed that they had informed the residents in advance that such a situation might occur, the residents stated that there was no such prior information. “We have tried to tell the consumers to keep their taps open to let the water out so that the residue can come out,” stated Mr Daggar.

The MC, however, did send in water tankers in the afternoon. But the residents alleged that it was only after persistent complaining did any official come to the sectors.

Residents, who had water purifiers installed, however did not have to face much problem as they stored up water after purifying it. But those without purifiers had to go without dinner, as they were unable to cook.

It may be mentioned here that the Sector 52 water works were inaugurated earlier this week and the water supply to the above-mentioned sectors was now coming in from here. Earlier the water was supplied by tube wells. Talking to TNS Mr V S Daggar, AXN PH Division III, stated that the muddy water was coming in due to the residue in the pipes.



Surprise checks at Chandigarh hotels
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 19
After yesterday’s incident in which six women had to be hospitalised after they allegedly consumed contaminated soup at Captain’s Retreat, a restaurant in Sector 35, the Administration conducted surprise checks at different hotels in the city today.

A team headed by the SDM (South), Mr Ankur Garg, conducted surprise checks at six hotels and restaurants in Sector 35. The team found that cleanliness standards, especially in the kitchens, were appallingly poor.

The checking was done to ascertain and check hospitality, maintenance and cleanliness standards. All defaulting hotels have been directed to take corrective measures immediately. Action will be taken against erring hotels, according to an official.

Mr R.K. Prashar, Superintendent, in the office of the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Pradeep, Inspector, Medical officer of Health, were also part of the team.

Meanwhile, the Administration has decided to regularly inspect various hotels, guesthouses and restaurants for cleanliness, hospitality and maintenance standards. Committees have been formed under respective SDMs to check establishments falling under their jurisdiction.

Around 130 such establishments will be inspected over the next one month and suitable action will be taken against those not meeting the set standards.

The Home-cum-Tourism Secretary, Mr Krishna Mohan, has asked the Administration to ensure quality service and hospitality to tourists. Administration officials also held a meeting with hotel association representatives on the issue.



Lakes pose threat to North India
Vishal Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 19
In a shocking disclosure, the National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA), Hyderabad, has come out with data showing formation of a large number of massive lakes, a la Pareechu, in China’s Tibet Autonomous Region.

These lakes pose a grave threat to north India in general and Himachal Pradesh in particular.

A senior Army officer informed The Tribune that experts from the Army as well as the Survey of India had deduced, from the data, that as many as 45 lakes had been formed, at an altitude of 4,000 m, owing to an unprecedented construction of buildings, roads, railways, bridges and dams by China.

The formation of lakes has been aggravated by the melting of glaciers due to drastic climatic changes.

Importantly, the agency’s findings have been corroborated by a joint study by the ISRO and the National Science and Technology Council.

The NRSA data also shows that at least 13 small to medium-sized dam-like structures have been built on the Sutlej which originates from the Mansarovar lake. A dam has been constructed near Jadda in western Tibet too.

Expressing concern over the development, the Army officer said even when the data was not available to them, the IAF pilots had already reported massive landslides and lake-formation in the Tibet region bordering India.

The gravity of the situation can be guaged from the fact that Nathpa-Jhakri and Bhakra hydel plants are dependent on the Sutlej for power generation.

The construction of dams on the Sutlej by China can impede the flow of water to these plants. Incidentally, the Sutlej flows through 320 km of China.

What raises a defence alarm is the frenzied road-and-rail-network construction undertaken by China in the Tibet region recently.

In the past two to three years, at least 600 km of wide roads have been constructed. Strategically important, these roads have the potential to serve as a runway in any emergency.

It is this construction spree which is leading to the formation of these lakes which can wreak havoc in form of unparalleled floods.

These “water-bombs” can destroy any strategic and military build-up on the Indian side, apart from the tremendous loss to life and property, with minimal loss to China.

Faced with an unmitigated disaster-in-the-making, the government is shying to take up the matter with China which denies any such development outrightly. 



Environment film festival from Aug 23
Vishal Gulati
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 19
City Beautiful is all set to witness the Environment and Wildlife Travelling Film Festival.
Opening on August 23 at Tagore Theatre here, the three-day festival is being organised by the New Delhi-based Centre for Media Studies (CMS) with the support of the Punjab State Council for Science and Technology and the Department of Environment, Chandigarh. The festival will focus on the screening of films, a symposium and a photo exhibition on issues highlighting diversity in nature.

It offers an opportunity to view the 30 award-winning Vatavaran-2005 films. The topics of the films vary from capturing the beauty of nature to focusing on issues threatening biodiversity.

“This year we are committed to spreading environmental awareness to far-off regions, and the festival in 12 Indian cities and Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates is a step in this direction,” says Ms P.N. Vasanti, Director, CMS.

Some of the films to be screened are: “The Policing Langur” by Ajay and Vijay Bedi; “Chasing Butterflies” by Gurmeet Sapal; “Shores of Silence” by Mike Pandey; “A Brush with Death” by Syed Fayaz; “Birds Through My Window” by Rudraksh Mathur; “Indian Leopards — The Killing Fields” by Praveen Singh; “Rainwater Harvesting” by Nandita Das and Saumya Sen; and “The Last Flight” by Nutan Manmohan.

While “Indian Leopards — The Killing Field” won the Best of Vatavaran-2005 Festival award, Nutan Manmohan’s “A Secondhand Life” bagged the Delhi Chief Minister’s Award for the best documentary and Sanjay Barnela’s “River Taming Mantras” received the best film award in the environment category in the Vatavaran Environment and Wildlife Film Festival held in New Delhi.

Two city-based filmmakers, Mr Jessu Jaskanwar Singh and Mr Manmohan Singh, will be felicitated for their contribution to the field of environment filmmaking.



78 milk samples fail
Our Correspondent

Mohali, August 19
As many as 78 milk samples taken for testing by officials of the Dairy Development Department were found to the adulterated and contained water. Only eight milk samples out of a total of 86 were found as per specifications laid down in this regard.

According to department officials, no milk sample was found containing urea or other harmful chemicals. The milk samples were tested at a camp organised by the department in Phase IIIB2 here today. The camp was inaugurated by Mr Kuljit Singh Bedi, municipal councillor.

The camp was organised by Mr Sohan Singh Cheema, Dairy Development Inspector, in association with Mr Deepak Kumar, an official of the UTI Bank, Phase VII.

Among those present at the camp were Mr Anil Kaura, Director, Dairy Development Department, Mr K.S. Mavi, Joint Director, and Mr Vikas Anand, Manager, UTI Bank.



Vigilant resident nabs 2 women thieves
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 19
A vigilant resident of a one-kanal house in Sector 19 here today nabbed two women members of a gang involved in stealing of bicycles, two-wheelers and household items.

The gang, which was active in the area for the past one month, was giving sleepless nights to residents.

Those arrested are Usha and Savita, both residents of Sector 25 Labour Colony. “While I was attending household chores, I noticed two women sneaking into the house and putting a blender in their bag. When I raised an alarm, they tried to flee. But I blocked the gate,” said Mr Pardeep Talwar, a resident of House No. 221.

The resident, along with neighbours, were able to catch the women and hand them over to the Station House Officer of the Sector 19 police station.

In the past few days, as many as eight bicycles, a scooter , a car and some household items had been reported stolen from different houses.

The incidents were reported in a row of houses from number 197 to 250. A police official said investigations were on to nab other members of the gang. It is believed that the women used to conduct a recee of the area and then pass on the information to their male members. 



Woman kidnapped, freed
Our Correspondent

Mohali, August 19
A woman was allegedly kidnapped at gunpoint by five persons here and released only after they took away her mobile phone.
The police said Chanchal Kumari, a resident of Manakpur village in Patiala district, had gone to Burail to get some medicines from a hakim.

She was coming back from the village when five persons, who came in a Tata Sumo, stopped her near YPS chowk. She was talking to someone on her mobile phone at that time. They asked her to hand over her mobile phone to them as the set being used by her had been banned by the government. They claimed that they were from the Police Department.

The woman, however, refused to give her phone to them. They took out a revolver and asked her to sit in their vehicle. They allegedly took her to different parts of the town and even Chandigarh.

After around two hours, they dropped her near Landran village after taking away her mobile phone. The police has registered a case.



F&CC approves holding of shopping festivals
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 19
The Finance and Contract Committee (F&CC) of the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh has accorded approval to granting of permission for holding shopping festival during the festival season in markets of various sectors and approved monthly rates for the same.

In order to encourage market associations participate in the development process for upgrading civic infrastructure in their markets; it was decided to give rebate of 50 per cent to those market associations that contributed Rs 5 to Rs 10 lakh for upgrading civic infrastructure in their markets and 75 per cent to those that contributed more than Rs 10 lakh.

The committee also approved various agenda items, including release of new water connections in rehabilitation colonies at rate of Rs 500 per connection, estimates for augmentation of streetlights in the Industrial Area, Phase 1, and the fire station road, purchase of summer uniforms for newly recruited drivers and firemen in the fire and emergency wing of the MCC for 2006-07 and draft agreement for operation and maintenance of 50 toilet blocks being constructed in various slums of the city under the SJSRY scheme.

The committee also approved deposit of Rs 11.98 lakh to the Punjab Irrigation Department as canal water user charges against the augmentation water supply scheme (Phase IV). The installation of seven deep tubewells at various locations in the city was also approved.

The committee further approved the proposal for correction and deletion of the wrongly raised water bills for tubewells being operated by the Horticulture Wings of the Administration and the Municipal Corporation as a result of ambiguity in clause 45 of the water supply bylaws.

The committee also decided to conduct limited re-auction of the kiosks located in Shivalik Garden to eatable vendors.



HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |