C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S

Green cover faces Administration axe
Notices to farmers for IT park; farmers plan dharna
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 10
A major green cover in the Union Territory, part of the respiratory system of the city as envisaged by Le Corbusier, faces the axe in the name of developing the Rajiv Gandhi Chandigarh Technology Park.

In the third face of developing the IT Park, the Administration has issued notices of acquiring land to farmers and residents in the Kishangarh area.

Quoting a US environmental scientist, Rudolph Greger, who has been awarded for his study on micro-environment, Mr H.S. Johl, a resident of Kishangarh, said a full-grown tree of 30-50 feet diameter provides approximately 4.8 tonnes of oxygen daily and consumes approximately 6 tonnes of carbon dioxide. “Acquiring 272 acres, for which the notices have been issued now will mean a loss of approximately 50,000 full-grown trees. It is a matter of great environmental concern.

The area also provides high-quality fruit. There is no immediate replacement in sight for the massive green cover and dismantling the trees will disturb the entire environment for a long time.”

Mr Ajai Johl, an architect, pointed out there are more than 150 acres of government land lying vacant right next to the IT park. “I fail to understand why that has not been included in the IT Park area. It will save the entire green belt of ours.” Not just here, small farmers all over the city, who are awaiting the acquisition of their land, are making last-bid efforts to prevent the “unpreventable”. The Chandigarh Farmers Association, Mani Majra Farmers Welfare, Environment Protection Society and the Pind Bachao Committee will be joining the farmers from Punjab, who will be staging a dharna in front of the Secretariat.

Mr Johl said the main agenda is the acquisition of the existing land in the name of big projects, where the farmers are being paid peanuts. In Chandigarh, farmers are getting Rs 12 lakh as compensation for an acre, while the administration was able to sell land at more than Rs 20 crore an acre for a housing project recently.

Maj-Gen Darshan Singh (retd), who is residing in the area for the past more than 30 years, has been appointed the coordinator of the city farmers forum to stage a dharna at the Matka Chowk. “I served my country with full honours. I have been living peacefully in these environs from the past 30 years. If I am now uprooted, where shall I go?”

Ms Jyotii Subramanian, president of the Chandigarh Farmers Action Group, said, “The Punjab New Capital (Periphery) Act, 1952, clearly provides that the function of the city and the periphery must not be inter-changed, otherwise confusion and anarchy is sure to follow.”

Maj R.S. Virk (retd) said, “The issue needs to be seen in totality. It is affecting a sizeable rural population, besides the residents near the IT Park. In the name of developing the Film City and the Water Park, the Administration is acquiring land at the price of peanuts. What will the children of the farmers do? It will not be surprising that they squander the money within a month on luxuries and are then on the road. It is also a big social issue.”

He said land at amusement parks and Film City was being given at much lower rates. Mr Virk said the comparison could be made to the rates being offered to the farmers.

It is also worth pointing out that Parliament is shortly going to take up suggestions of the National Advisory Council, which has recommended that the government should “ensure that displaced families have a standard of living better than the one before their displacement. The gains to the displaced person should be of the same scale as to the project beneficiary.”

Major Virk said, “A formal decision is yet to be taken. However, look at the farmers who have been paid minimal prices as compared to the market rates. I think the administration consists of educated people and they need to initiate an effort to really rehabilitate the displaced farmers.”

Mr Anmol Rattan Singh, a resident of Sarangpur village, said, “There are certain families which had to suffer the pain of shifting out of their homes twice or even more during the process the city came up. There are certain families who have first shifted from Sector 22 to Mani Majra and then from Mani Majra to Sarangpur. Now they fear another eviction.”

General Darshan Singh said, “Have a look at the existing structures at the site. It has only two buildings and only the God knows when the next one will come up. The pace of land acquisition should match with the progress on ground. Development is the need of the hour. However, the Administration should think carefully about rehabilitation and the monetary relief according to the market prices.”



Provision in building bylaws for UT villages draws flak
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 10
A provision in the draft Building Bylaws for UT villages to allow the construction of six-storeyed flats on a minimum half acre of land in the abadi area of UT villages has drawn flak.

Constructions outside ‘lal dora’ continue

In the light of a recent move by the Chandigarh Administration to exempt hundreds of unauthorised structures outside the ‘lal dora’ in UT villages from the domain of the Periphery Act, construction activity by influential persons has picked up.

Sources reveal that hoping to get their land exempted under Section 5A of the Land Acquisition Act, some well-connected persons have raised boundary walls. In the villages located on the northern fringe of the city, a number of bureaucrats and politicians have land.

The Administration has sought public reaction and response on the draft proposal of “Chandigarh Administration (erection and re-erection of building), Building Bylaws, 2006” for the planned and regulated growth in all villages.

Pointing out anomalies in the draft bylaws, villagers had pointed that it was totally irrelevant to fix the clause of a minimum of half acre. Most of the villagers have land holding of up to 1 kanal. “In most of the cases, the villagers have plots measuring 10 marlas or 5 marlas”, said Mr Anand Singh, Sarpanch of Kajehri village.

Under the proposed provision, only multi-national or big players would buy land from villagers and undertake residential and commercial activity, and it would in no way benefit the villagers in the long run, said Tarsem Lal, Sarpanch of Daddu Majra village.

An official said once approved, the bylaws would be applicable to the villages under the jurisdiction of the Municipal Corporation. In the first phase, as many as five villages, including Hallo Majra, Kajheri, Palsora, Maloya and Dadu Majra, shall be included in the municipal limits.

Though officials claim that the bylaws would provide to encourage a regulated development, villagers believe that the bylaws should directly benefit them to erect, re-erect or occupy any building in the specified areas.

As per draft bylaws, plots below 100 square yards will be allowed full-site coverage, whereas above 101-250 square yards will be allowed 75 per cent coverage, while plots above 251 sq yd will be allowed 70 per cent site. But the maximum height of a building will be 34 feet, including ground floor plus two floors.



Milk prices set to go up
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 10
In yet another jolt to the household budget, the milk prices in the region are all set to go up by almost Rs 1 per litre in the tri-city and Ropar and by Rs 2 per litre in Parwanoo, Baddi and Solan.

Sighting a severe shortage in milk supply, leading to an increase in the milk procurement prices, Milkfed, Punjab and Dairy Development Cooperative Federation, Haryana, have been forced to hike the prices of milk. From tomorrow, premium milk of both Verka and Vita will be available for Rs 21 a litre, while standard milk will be available for Rs 19 a litre. The double toned milk will be available for Rs 15 a litre and the skimmed milk for Rs 14 a litre.

Ms Navchand Dhaliwal, housewife in Manimajra, said there was already rationing of milk for the past two months. “With the price rise, the milk federations should also ensure a more regular supply of milk,” she said. Ms Vinita Bhardwaj, another housewife in Sector 7, said the entire household budget had gone haywire. “The price of cheese has gone up by Rs 2 per 200 gram, of curd by Rs 2 per 400 gram and prices of bread too have increased by Rs 2 per loaf. The price rise of milk is going to hurt the maximum,” she rued.

The authorities, on the other hand, said with a shortfall in procurement and increase in the procurement price, they were forced to call for a price hike. Officials in the dairy departments of Punjab and Haryana informed TNS that there was a 10 to 15 per cent shortage in milk supply. Because of scanty rainfall this monsoons, green forage is not available, leading to a reduction in the yield of milch animals. The milk procurement has decreased sharply because of the heat stress in animals. They said though they were aiming at a two digit growth in the milk supply, all growth plans had been put on hold.

“It is after a gap of almost 13 years that we are facing a shortage of milk and a similar situation had arisen in 1993. Though there was also some shortage of milk three years ago but it was not as bad as this year,” said an official in Milkfed.



Class IX student kills self
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 10
A Class IX student, Harekumar, alias Tinku, committed suicide by hanging himself from a ceiling fan at his house in Devinagar village today. Though he left behind no suicide note, family sources said he had a fight with his sister this morning following which his mother reprimanded him.

Police sources said the boy, son of Nepal Singh and Poonam, running a small shop in the village, was alone at home when the incident took place. “His parents left for the shop at 8 am while his elder sister, 16-year-old Munni, went for tuitions and the youngest daughter accompanied her parents to the shop,” an official said.

Munni returned from tuitions at 11 am and knocked at the door. When Tinku did not open the door, she called for help from neighbours. Babu Lal, who was the first to reach there, said they saw the boy hanging from the fan from the window.

“I sent in the girl through the window and she opened the door. We called the police who got the body down,” he said.

A case has been registered.



CM wants revival of vanishing art of magic
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 10
Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda today urged magicians of the country to come forward to safeguard the vanishing art of magic.

The CM was addressing members of the Chandigarh Press Club after inaugurating a special screening of OP Sharma’s magic show at Neelam Theatre today.

Mr Hooda said once India was known for its art of magic. He said a number of jugglers brought laurels to the country. The advent of the electronic media and other sources of entertainment, had caused a decline in the interest in magic. He hoped the art form would be revived.

Referring to OP Sharma, an engineer who opted for the magic wand, Mr Hooda said others should show similar courage in pursuing their passion.

“He (OP Sharma) has set a new record by organising 30,252 magic shows throughout the world,” Mr Hooda said, adding that “Sharma considered magic to be an amalgam of art and science.” In Chandigarh, Sharma held the platinum jubilee of his show today. Later, the CM presented a golden crown to Sharma.

The show went on well with families of members enjoying every bit of it. The President of the Chandigarh Press Club, Mr Balwant Takshak, thanked the Chief Minister. The club secretary general also spoke.

Sharma said magic was a source of healthy entertainment for the people. He said efforts were being made to revive the past glory of the craft in the country.

Among the feats and magic tricks he showcased today were “Forest Mystery”, “Meena Market”, “Japan ke teen Bhoot”, “Body through Body,” “Mummy of Egypt” and “Mystery of Shadow”.



Park ‘encroached’ by residents
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, September 10
A park in Sector 17 has become a bone of contention among residents of the area. Irked by the “control” of a couple of residents over the park, residents are demanding that the park be “opened” to the public.

Stating that the occupants of houses adjoining the garden have made the public park their private property, residents complained that all entry points to the park had been blocked and it had been transformed into a kitchen garden where vegetables are grown.

“We have approached the area councillor to urge these persons to remove hedges grown to bar the entry to the public. The worst sufferers are the children who have no place to go and play. However, the councillor concerned had assured us of support,” a resident said.

The councillor, Mr V.K. Kapoor, admitted that the public park had been encroached upon by a few residents. “I have decided to get an item on the maintenance of the park passed by the municipal council before I ask them to remove the hedges and open the place for public use. It’s in the pipeline,” he added.

Meanwhile, when contacted, Mr S.K. Abrol, owner of one of the houses immediately next to the garden, justified the encroachment. “The place was full of heaps of garbage 10 years ago. It had become a haven for anti-social elements who would gather at night and plan thefts in our locality. To save ourselves from these kind of people, we grew this hedge,” he explained.

Another resident accused of encroaching upon the park maintained that the residents are not bothered about beautifying the place. “We have done it by spending our own money on the park. Now that it is beautiful, everybody wants it to be opened. If we stop tending to it, it will end up as a big dustbin. The public is welcome to spend the evenings here. We have no problem,” she said.



Sidhu urges youth to build ‘new India’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 10
The Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, Chandigarh, organised “Youth Sammelan” under the banner of “Challenges before the youth” at Lajpat Rai Bhavan, Sector 15, here today.

Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu, BJP MP from Amritsar, was the main speaker. Addressing the conference, he said the generation today should refrain from drugs and must use its energies to contribute towards building a new India.

Addressing the conference, Mr Shanta Kumar, former Union Minister, said the BJP and allied parties would win the coming elections, whether it may be the elections of the Municipal Corporation, Chandigarh, or the Assembly elections of Punjab, Uttaranchal or Himachal Pradesh.

“Citizens of this country want a change,” he stated.

He said the centre was largely responsible for the present price rise. “When I was the Union Minister for Food and Supplies, I did not allow the prices of essential commodities to be increased. I kept the price rise under control,” he stated.

“I, in fact, launched Antodaya Anna Yojna under which essential commodities like flour, rice and sugar were provided to the poor either free or at very cheap rates,” he added.

He said the Centre had put crores of people in the country in a difficult situation to appease 500 sugar mill owners, as a result of which the price of sugar, which was Rs 14 per kg “in our time is now being sold at Rs 22-24 per kg.”

At the conclusion of the youth conference, Mr Davesh Moudgil, president, BJYM, Chandigarh, thanked the workers.

Mr Satya Pal Jain, former MP, Mr Yash Pal Mahajan and Mr Davesh Moudgil also expressed their views.



Onam celebrated
Our Correspondent

Mohali, September 10
The local Sree Ayyappa Seva Samiti celebrated Onam with enthusiasm at the Sri Sanatan Dharam Mandir in Phase IV here today.

A colourful cultural programme, including classical dances, group dances and the traditional Thiruvathira, was the main attraction.

Onam, Kerala’s most important festival, is celebrated in honour of the ancient Asura king Mahabali. Most historians believe that Onam is a harvest festival too, celebrated traditionally since ancient times.

Mr Anand, a well-known Malayalam writer, was the chief guest while Dr John V. George, ADGP (Law and Order), Haryana, was the guest of honour at the celebrations here.

Mr Anand gave the Smt Kartiyayani Amma Memorial Scholarship consisting of a cash award and merit certificates, sponsored by Mr Vidyadharan K, to meritorious Class X students.

Dr George gave the Smt Harbaksh Kaur Meiji Memorial Scholarship, sponsored by the Meharbaba Charitable Trust, Chandigarh, to Class XII students. The samiti also gave a scholarship to the topper of Class VIII among its members’ wards.

Prizes for various competitions like painting, handwriting , quiz, memory test, singing of the National Anthem, etc, held on August 15 were given away by the samiti president, Mr C. Unnikrishnan.

At the end of the programme a delicious Onam feast, prepared by culinary experts from Kerala, was served to the gathering.



Don’t charge public for security: citizens’ body
Our Correspondent

Mohali, September 10
The Citizens Welfare Council, Phase X, has demanded that the public should not be burdened financially with the introduction of schemes such as the Community Policing Scheme for the security of life and property.

At a meeting of the executive committee of the council presided over by the chairman, Mr Ripudaman Singh Roop, it was felt that Mohali residents were already paying taxes to the government in various forms which were supposed to be utilised for providing civic amenities to the residents and adequate security to their life and property.

The council said it would not be appropriate for the Police Department to impose any financial burden on the residents in the name of providing security to them. Providing security was the duty of that department, for which it was meant and paid by the state exchequer.

The council said if additional police force was required for maintaining law and order, it should be created by appointing Community Police Officers (CPOs) on a regular basis with regular pay scales in the department. This would also save young CPOs from financial exploitation. The council also said that the CPOs, without any regular police uniform and arms, seemed to be the guards of private companies, which failed to create a sense of security among residents.



Tribune School employee dead
Tribune News Service

Mr Ved PalChandigarh, September 10
Mr Ved Pal (42), an employee of The Tribune Model School, died here today after a brief illness. He is survived by his wife, three daughters and a son. His cremation was largely attended by his colleagues and relatives. He had joined The Tribune in 1987.



Tribune employee bereaved

Chandigarh, September 10
Ashok Kaushal (53), elder brother of Mr Arun Kaushal, Executive, Circulation Department, The Tribune, was killed in a road accident in the early hours today.

The accident took place at the Sector 25 and Sector 14 dividing road near Panjab University. The funeral procession will start from 683, Milk Colony, Dhanas (U.T) for the Sector 25 cremation ground at 1 pm tomorrow. TNS



Two held for stealing
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 10
A minor boy of Colony No. 4 was caught red-handed stealing brass equipment from a factory in Industrial Area, here today. According to the police, Mr Arun Aggarwal of Phase I, Industrial Area, manufacturer of gas cylinder regulator valves lodged a complaint alleging that the boy was caught red-handed while he was stealing brass equipment from his factory premises this morning.

The police arrested the accused and recovered 8 kg of brass metal from his possession. A case under Sections 380 and 411 of the IPC has been registered.

In another incident, Mr Daljit Singh of Kalai village in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh filed a report alleging that he had caught a man red-handed while he was picking the complainant’s purse at the Sector 17 ISBT on Saturday. The accused has been identified as Chetan of Mauli Jagran, Mani Majra. A case has been registered.

Vehicles stolen

Mr Mansa Ram of Mauli Jagran filed a complaint with the police alleging that his car (UP-11-N-3570) was stolen from Charan Singh Colony in Mani Majra during the intervening night of September 7 and 8.

In another incident, Mr Pankaj Taneja of Sector 23 filed a complaint alleging that his motorcycle (CH-03-N-3277) was stolen from the Sector 35 market on September 6.

Two separate cases of thefts have been registered.


The police arrested Piar Singh and Sunil Pal, both residents of Bapu Dham Colony, on Saturday on allegations of indulging in gambling. The police recovered Rs 2085 and Rs 450 from their possession, respectively. Two cases under the Gambling Act have been registered in this regard.

Mobike thief nabbed

The local police arrested a Sector 31 resident from a naka late last night in Sector 47 here along with a motorcycle that he had allegedly stolen a few days ago from the same sector.

The police said the accused, Rakesh Kumar, of Sector 31 was nabbed while riding the stolen motorcycle (CH-03-W-3823) displaying a fake registration number.

The police had set up the naka on a tip-off given by complainant, Mr Rajinder Singh, who had seen the accused riding his motorcycle with a fake registration number.

Mr Rajinder Singh had lodged a case of theft in the Sector 31 police station on September 4.

The accused was produced before a local court today and was remanded in police custody for a day.



Man hangs himself to death
Tribune News Service

Lalru, September 10
Subhash (35) hanged himself to death here yesterday. According to the police, the body of the deceased was found hanging from a tree. A resident of Pipalshaw village in Saharanpur village, he had been living with his brother-in-law, Dalbir Singh, for the past many years.

He was said to be suffering from depression.



Loan scheme not viable for banks
Ruchika M. Khanna

Tribune News Service

Panchkula, September 10
Banks in Panchkula district have shown reluctance to process loans under the differential rate of interest (DRI) scheme because of the “financially unviable” rate of interest for extending loans.

Bankers in the district say that they are not keen on disbursing loans under the scheme as it takes a lot of time and effort, while the bank earns just 4 per cent interest. Since a large number of these loans turn into “bad debts” - due to the inability of the banks to scrutinise the applications carefully and failure to supervise the business activity, many banks have shown reluctance to sanction loans under this scheme. In the past, crores of rupees have been waived off across the country as “bad debts”.

The Panchkula administration has now fixed targets for 20 banks in the district to process loans for 1685 cases by September -end. The administration has asked these banks to process all loan cases and disburse loans by September 30.

Under the scheme, applicants can raise a composite loan at differential rate of interest (DRI) of 4 per cent per annum. Physically challenged persons and poor meritorious students keen on higher studies are also eligible to avail this loan from nationalised and private banks.

No margin or collateral security and third-party guarantee was required to raise loan under this project.

While reviewing the loans advanced by various banks in Panchkula district, it was revealed that loaning under the DRI has virtually come to a halt. Analysing the reasons for the poor performance of the banks under the DRI scheme, district administration officials said in the past, many new schemes had been introduced by the government to help the poor under the DRDA plans. The new schemes offer more attractive loan amount on which subsidy component was also provided.



Hotel owners’ plea on bar licence fee
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, September 10
Stating that injustice was being done to the hotel industry here, the president of the Panchkula Hotels and Restaurants Association, Mr J.S. Shangari, said Rs 6 lakh was being charged as bar licence fee annually while the hotels here were paying VAT and sales tax at 20 per cent on liquor and an additional 12.5 per cent on food items.

“The fee next door in Zirakpur is Rs 2 lakh only while there is no sales tax. In addition to the hotels, a number of bars are being run in Zirakpur and Mani majra and Shivalik Enclave and there are also liquor sale shops and “Ahattas” attached to these where no VAT/sales tax is chargeable on liquor or food items. We are facing tough times and the government should address our problems,” he said.

Addressing a press conference, Mr Shangari said running a hotel with a bar was a more viable proposition from the business point of view. “Another heartburn among the hotel owners is that here the electricity is being provided at Rs 4.33 per unit whereas in UT, Chandigarh the rates are Rs 3.10 per unit. In the interest of hotel business, it is necessary that the same may be brought on a par with Chandigarh,” he stated. Hotel owners suggested that the bar licence fee for Indian-made foreign liquor and imported wine/whisky should be fixed separately as was in the year ending March 2006.

The Excise and Taxation Department had fixed another fee of Rs 1 lakh for allowing the use of liquor at extra points in hotels in addition to bar rooms, “It means that in case, visitors take liquor in the banquet hall, coffee houses or conference halls, we have to pay Rs 1 lakh extra. This does not appear to be justified,” Mr Hemant Kinger, President of the Panchkula Punjabi Sabha, said. The Federation of the Hotels and Restaurants Association of India (FHRAI) urged the government that the hotel industry be given the status of “infrastructure sector” for getting certain income tax concessions.



Biz Clip

Venofer launch: LG Life Sciences India Private Limited will soon launch intravenous venofer in India. Mr Y.S. Shim, managing director of LG Life Sciences, said here today that in line with our philosophy of challenge and innovation we are pleased to bring Venofer, which is a first-line IV iron choice for the treatment of iron deficiency anemia in chronic kidney disease patients. — TNS



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