C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Naya Gaon NP cleared despite Centre's objections
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 17
The Punjab Government today finally cleared the formation of a nagar panchayat comprising the areas of Naya Gaon, Kansal, and Nadah.
The Local Bodies Minister, Punjab, Choudhary Jagjit Singh, today told The Tribune that the government would issue a formal notification in this regard before the end of this week.

However, neither the minister nor any senior official of the Department of Local Government, Punjab, threw light on how the government had found a way around the recent decision of the Central Government, striking down the state’s plea to get over 65,000 hectares of land out of the purview of the various central and state Forest Acts.

A statement issued by the office of the Minister for Animal Husbandry, Punjab, and MLA, Morinda, under which the entire area of the proposed NP falls, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, said the NP status for the area had been cleared with the Chief Minister, Punjab, Capt Amarinder Singh, today giving the final nod to a proposal in this regard.

However, a senior official of the Department of Local Government told The Tribune on the condition of anonymity that the issue was far from resolved, what with the objections of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests still standing.

As already reported by The Tribune, the Union Government had sometime back told the Punjab Government to seek any relief regarding bringing out the land from out of the purview of any Central Act from the Supreme Court, maintaining that it was not authorised to consider such a request.

The constitution of NAC/NP for the area was one of the promises in the manifesto of the Congress at the time of the 2002 elections to the Punjab Assembly. In this regard, Mr Kang had also been making a lot of efforts.

On August 10, 2006 the Ministry had approved the delisting of these areas from these Acts but had added riders to this decision asking the state government to ensure that no commercial activity takes place in the delisted land and that the land is used “only for bonafide use for agriculture and for sustaining the livelihood of the people.”

Another communication sent by the Centre said, “The approval for delisting of land was given based on the Supreme Court order dated September 9, 2005 which, inter alia, stated that the land to be considered for delisting would be such lands which are under bona fide agricultural use. The relief sought by the state government with regard to delisting of PLPA lands other than those under agriculture use does not fall within the purview of the Central Government in view of the Supreme Court order dated 9.9.2005. The state government may, therefore, seek relief from the Supreme Court.”

Large portions of over 470 villages in Punjab are “locked” under the provisions of the Preservation of Forest Act, 1900 which following a high court decision also attract the provisions of the Indian Forest Conservation Act, 1980. Punjab had early this year sought approval from the Centre to exclude over 65,670 hectares of cultivation and inhabited land falling in SAS Nagar (then in Ropar), Ropar, Nawanshahr, Hoshiarpur and Gurdaspur districts from the jurisdiction of these Acts on the grounds that these had been listed under PLPA ‘by mistake’.

After the conditional approval was received, the government wrote to the Centre to consider the case of Nadah and Karoran villages falling in Mohali separately from its earlier request pertaining to the entire state as these areas had to be brought under the NAC/NP.

Then, the Central Government approved the delisting of 265.59 hectares in Nadah and 442.11 hectares in Karoran from these Acts but repeated the conditions.

However, Mr Kang’s statement claimed that “recently the Union Environment and Forest Ministry had given its approval to clear these areas out of purview of the forest Act.” The statement also said the SDM, Kharar, had been nominated administrator of this newly set-up nagar panchayat, until an elected body came into place.

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Govt to consider plea for separate UT Administrator
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 17
The government today told the members of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee of the Home Ministry that it would consider the demand for a separate Administrator for Union Territory of Chandigarh.

The assurance was given by Home Minister Shivraj Patil after the demand was raised by some members for a separate Administrator for Chandigarh at the meeting of the consultative committee which discussed various issues relating to “adminstration in the UTs.”

Today’s meeting was in continuation of the meeting of the Consultative Committee held on the same subject on August 3. Members said that the Governor of Punjab was the Administrator of Chandigarh at present and having a separate administrator will make it easier to have regular interactions with officials of the UT administration.

Minister of State for Home Sri Prakash Jaiswal told reporters later that the suggestion for a separate Administrator for Chandigarh will be looked into. Asked if the government was contemplating a strong law to deal with terrorist violence, he said the Home Ministry keeps viewing suggestions on making improvements in anti-terror laws. He said states should focus on improving their police intelligence set-up and pay adequate attention to police modernisation.

Responding to the suggestions made by the members during the meeting, Mr Patil said the government would ensure that powers were given to panchayati raj institutions in the Union Territories according to provisions in the Constitution. 

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Major units close down in Industrial Area
Others opt for conversion
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 17
A number of fully functional units in the Industrial Area have closed down and a number of others have opted for conversion or have changed the use without informing the authorities. Big plots are lying idle and an indefinite number of employees were rendered jobless after the closure of the units.

The area has plots resumed by CITCO and a big portion of the land is being occupied by the scrap dealers right in middle of Phase I. Industrialists feel that “there are certain objections to the ongoing conversion policy. However, the change was need of the hour. The rates could have been slightly lowered by the administration for greater popularity”.

Certain big names which have either closed down their original business or have opted for conversions include the Faizer, Pfizer Modella Woolen Mills, Hanuman Flour Mills, Chandigarh Paper Board Mill, Meters and Instruments, Pasco and Campa Cola factory, besides several others. Size of the vacant area can be gauged from the fact that the unit of Modella is a 25-acre plot and that of Pfizer is approximately 21 acres, reliable sources said.

A number of cold storages near the Chandigarh Transport Undertaking (CTU) depot have closed down. A number of ancillary units providing spare parts to units like the HMT at Pinjore have either closed down or shifted to Baddi and Barotiwala areas. It is a generally accepted fact that a small industry or a shed owner cannot afford the “very high prices of conversion”.

A sizeable number of those who have not opted for conversion have been issued notices for subletting or change in use of their plots. “This is a pressure tactic being used by the administration to force us into conversion”, an industrialist said.

A senior officer said: “Conversion of the trade was announced after thoughtful deliberations. The plots originally were offered at very nominal prices to encourage them in the Industrial Area according to the requirement of the time. Now the Industrial Area has lost its original relevance and change in trade was the need of the time. We have allowed the change with genuine charges and the expenditure is ultimately going to be spend in providing the public utilities”.

Mr H.S. Mamik, a leading industrialist and one of the biggest critics of the policy of conversion in its present form, said: “have a look at illegal parking on the roadside in front of plots which are not opting or conversions. Even if new malls are able to take care of their individual parking, who will manage the rest of the traffic? There are also notices saying resumed plots will be converted into parking. How much parking space is needed and where the place was available are the unanswered questions. Development in a haphazard manner can bring irreversible problems which will only be a public inconvenience.”

More than half a dozen transport companies operating on a resumed plot near the CTU workshop is a big public inconvenience, besides being an eyesore. Mr Raminder Singh Kapany, an industrialist, said they were being asked for the subletting fee from 1983 onwards when they not been given transferred the sheds which was “unfair”.

Mr M.P.S. Chawla, president of the Chandigarh Industrial Association, said “no notices should be served to the existing industry and they be allowed to carry on their trade. The conversion policy if implemented, as envisaged, will bring better trade to the city. Change in land use was the need of the hour”.

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Land acquired for expressway
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 17
Work on the much touted 135-km Kundli-Manesar- Palwal (KMP) Expressway has gone full steam now, after 3,300 acres of land required for the project has been acquired by the Haryana Government.

Over 95 per cent of this land has already been handed over to the concessionaire led by DS Constructions, the company that has been awarded the contract for executing the project on a build operate and transfer (BOT) basis. The company has now started with the basic earth work, which includes clearing and grubbing land and creating pipe culverts for drainage.

The detailed project report (DPR) for the project, as submitted to the Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (HSIIDC) during the bidding stage, has also been revised and upgraded for the entire 135-km stretch of the access controlled expressway. “We are now in the process of setting up plants and buying equipment worth Rs 100 crore for the project. In addition, plant and equipment from our current projects will also be transferred here, so that the project can be complete in the stipulated 42 month time, by July 2009,” said the Managing Director of DS Constructions, Mr H.S. Kohli.

He said that the project will be executed by distributing the length of the expressway into three packages (and each of these packages into two sub packages each). “We have already set up camp offices at every 20 km. distance from each other so that the project can be executed and managed in phases,” added Mr Kohli.

The expressway is being constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 1800 crore and will match international standards of quality infrastructure and would have facilities like a trauma centre, helipad, parking lots, refilling stations, refreshment centres, police stations, car wash, besides recreational facilities.

This will provide a high speed link between north Haryana and the southern districts of Sonepat, Jhajjar, Gurgaon and Faridabad.

This will intersect four existing national highways and key railway lines.

The development of the global urban corridor along Kundli - Manesar - Palwal (KMP) Western Peripheral Expressway will give impetus to real estate development in the region. There will be a number of specialised economic activities in this corridor like independent townships/cities, with focus on specialised economic activity such as manufacturing, power etc. A number of such cluster cities integrated under one umbrella will provide the overall spatial form of the global urban corridor. In between these nodes, recreational, forest and green area will be developed.

The state has envisaged an ambitious plan of developing Rajiv Gandhi Education City at Kundli, Sonepat, which will have quality infrastructure and support services so as to invite top class educational institutes of the world to setup campus there.

It is also proposed to set up special economic zones along the expressway, to boost trade, besides three new industrial model townships (IMT), apart from the one at Manesar, are to be developed during the next five years. 

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Centre likely to issue directive on police reforms
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 17
The Union Government is likely to issue a directive to the states with regard to the Supreme Court’s directions on police reforms. Concerned with the issue of timely implementation of the apex court’s directive and to clear the perceived air of confusion, the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, and four senior Cabinet Ministers are learnt to have held a meeting on the issue yesterday.

They took a decision to issue certain guidelines to the states to ensure the establishment of an independent and responsive police force in the country, as envisaged in the directions of a three-member Bench that delivered its judgement on September 22.

Besides the Prime Minister, those who attended the meeting were Law Minister H.R Bhardwaj, Home Minister Shivraj Patil, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Finance Minister P. Chidambaram. The Prime Minister reportedly expressed his keenness on having a basic framework in place before December 31, 2006, the date given by the Supreme Court to ensure compliance.

The Union Cabinet Secretary and the chief secretaries of the states and union territories are required to file compliance reports by January 3, 2007, after the new police mechanism comes into place by the end of the year.

Besides other operational matters, the issue relating to the appointment of heads of police establishments and state police forces for a period of two years has caused much concern in many states and central establishments, where there is no empanelment of officers for appointment to the said posts.

Haryana will be the first state where the present police chief is to retire after the pronouncement of the Supreme Court order. The Haryana Director-General of Police (DGP), Mr Nirmal Singh, is scheduled to retire on October 31. Similarly, in three or four other states, the police chiefs are scheduled to retire by December 31.

The Supreme Court judgement directs that the state police chief should be selected from amongst the three senior-most officers empanelled by the Union Public Service Commission for promotion to the rank. But so far there is no empanelment of officers in Haryana, making the task of choosing a new incumbent difficult for the state government.

However, certain legal luminaries say that there is no ambiguity in the order as it clearly says that till the time the new mechanism is in place, the order must be taken as a guideline. By implication, officers occupying the top post must be granted an extension in service.

The Haryana Legal Remembrancer’s cell, is, however, interpreting the order to suggest that there is nothing in it that comes as a boon for the present police chief. In fact, in Haryana the decision to grant extension to Mr Nirmal Singh or to appoint a new DGP has been left solely to the Chief Minister, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who will take a decision based on the central directive and the opinion of legal experts on his return from his foreign tour.

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Indian cops to vie for best police station spot
Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 17
The police forces have acquired the dubious reputation of wielding authority on helpless and innocent persons across the world. Later this month things will change. This time the men women in uniform will be at the receiving end when they will be put under the public scanner. This will happen not only at the police stations in Chandigarh or neighbouring Haryana and Punjab, but across 20 countries.

As part of a global initiative to bring police stations in the public domain through the active involvement of communities, Altus Global Alliance based in The Hague along with their partners and coordinators will visit police stations in different countries to evaluate the direct involvement of the police with society. Police stations will be judged on various parameters and rated in this global competition.

Altus Global Alliance will be assisted by their Indian coordinator, the Chandigarh-based Institute for Development and Communication (IDC), to judge and evaluate police stations in India. The objective of the exercise is to make the delivery of justice transparent.

In fact, the police stations in Chandigarh, Haryana and Punjab will be in direct competition with those in Australia, Belgium, Benin, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Ghana, Hungary, India, Latvia, Liberia, Malaysia, Mexico, the Natherlands, Nigeria, Niger, Pakistan, Russia, Sri Lanka, the UK and the USA.

“This is a crucial step forward towards police reforms. the 21st century has recognised police reforms as vital for democratic and participatory governance. This trend is global. Most of the countries are having a re-look at their criminal justice system to impart speedy and non discriminatory justice to citizens” Dr Pramod Kumar, Director, IDC, said.

From India, police stations in Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Meghalaya will be visited by a group of local residents. These police stations will be graded on the basis of the quality of police station services, community access, detention conditions and services provided to women, Dalits, minorities and other vulnerable sections. The Punjab and the Chandigarh Police have geared up to participated in the global police station week. Sixty five police stations in Punjab and 10 in Chandigarh will be visited by representative of society.

The best police stations among those visited will be recognised and the best practices implemented in all police stations.

Representatives from the best police stations will be given certificates at the country level, the South-East Asian regional level and the global level.

Prof Chris Stone, Chairman of Altus Global Alliance, in his message has said: “Police Station Visitors Week is an opportunity for the public to access and become acquainted with service delivery at police stations. In turn, the police will benefit from the visits as they seek ways to further improve their service, while learning from the results of the Police Station Visit globally”.

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“Probe killings” by cops during terrorism
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 17
Khalra Mission Organisation, a Sikh rights body, on Sunday claimed that National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has lost its credibility on the issue of extending relief to the kin of “unidentified” persons allegedly cremated secretively by police in Punjab during terrorism.

The NHRC should have mentioned what action it recommended against the policemen who committed these killings and got away with it, said the organisation at a press conference hereon Sunday.

The compensation has been awarded to only the kin of 1051 unidentified persons while a list of 2097 such unidentified bodies was handed over by human rights activists Jaswant Singh Khalra more than 10 years ago.

The Commission was supposed to protect the dignity of all human beings, said the Patron of the organization Mr Dalbir Singh, J.S. Khalra’s wife Paramjit Kaur and human rights activist Justice (retd) Ajit Singh Bains.

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Passing Through

Manju Panwar
Manju Panwar, State Coordinator, Haryana, Empowerment and Sustainable Development Initiative (ESDI)

Tell us a little about ESDI's work in Haryana?

We are an NGO that began in 1995 and are working in about 25 villages in the Nilokheri block of Karnal district towards social, political and economic empowerment of women. This includes strengthening grassroots democracy through people, especially women's, participation using 'gram sabhas' (village assemblies) as a means of bringing social issues forward.

What are the main issues that you have to deal with?

Health is a major concern because, ironically, most women have no say in matters regarding their own health, and by health one means even basic facilities. For example lack of women doctors are health centres and even something as basic as lack of toilet facilities for girls at schools which proves a major deterrent in educating them.

How did you get involved in this project?

I have done my Masters in Social Work from Delhi University. My father Dr Mahipal is a Professor at the Haryana Institute of Rural Development and he always motivated me to take something that would help people at the grassroots.

He was the one who told me about Nilokheri and S K Dey's pioneering work in the region and I have been working in these villages for the last 2 years now.

— Gayatri Rajwade

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Watch out

Ranjit Bajaj Ranjit Bajaj of Chandigarh wil be accompanying the high profile Pakistan cricket team for the entire duration of the Champions Trophy as its Liaison Officer. Appointed by International Cricket Council, Ranjit carries the responsibility of looking after all the needs of the VVIPs from across the border.

This is not the first time that this young Chandigarh boy got such a responsible assignment. At 16, Ranjit perhaps one of the youngest Assistant Liaison officer of an international team during the World Cup semifinal between West Indies and Australia played at the PCA Stadium in Mohali in 1996. 

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In Town

French Company Méli-Mélo is all set to stage their acclaimed show ‘What are you leaning on?’ derived from traditional circus arts with elements borrowed from theatre and dance to tell a heart-warming story about growing up at the Rock Garden at 7 p.m. on Thursday.

The Company based in the city of Lille in northern France was formed by five like minded people who all loved the circus. Since then Tania Malaquin,Jeremie Mallard, Sebastien Peyre, Amaury Roussel and Celia Guibbert have been performing all over the world.

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An unusual case of forgery
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 17
An unusual case has come to light where a brigadier has been accused of tampering with and falsifying the annual confidential report (ACR) of his subordinate officer, who on the other hand, is facing disciplinary proceedings for allegedly forging his own ACR.

Though the Delhi High Court restrained the Army from passing any final order in the case of Lt-Col Rajan Batta, the Army moved an application for commencing his trial by court martial, prompting him to move the High Court a few days ago to initiate contempt proceedings against the General Officer Commanding, Delhi Area. The case comes up for hearing this month.

When the complainant moved out on posting from Jammu and Kashmir to Ferozepore a few years ago, he was asked by his then commanding officer, Col (now Brig) R. Sinha to leave behind his ACR form duly filled, his petition claimed.

A few months later, a jawan from his old unit was sent to him with a fresh ACR, with reasonably good gradings, for his signatures. He was told that the previous ACR which he had left behind had been misplaced.

Recently, when he was not approved for promotion, Colonel Batta sent a photocopy of the second ACR to Army Headquarters (AHQ) for verification. AHQ found a totally different ACR in its records, with highly adverse grading.

A court of inquiry was thereafter ordered into the matter and when the complainant was shown the ACR, he found that in many columns the figure of 9 was altered to 8 and 7. Even the pen picture had alterations. The court of inquiry opined that the ACR in its records was a fraudulent one and that the signatures of the commanding officer and the complete handwritten pen picture were forged by the complainant himself.

"Our contention is that if a person is to forge his ACR, then why would he give himself low grades," the complainant's counsel, Maj K Ramesh (retd) said. "Moreover, the officer himself had filed a non-statutory complaint with AHQ against his suppression and had also sought forensic examination of the said ACR," he added.

"The opinion of former additional director, National Institute of Criminology and Forensic Science, is that the ACR sent to the complainant at Ferozepore and the one sent to AHQ by the commanding officer have overwhelming similarities and cannot be forged as the pattern of handwriting of the complainant is totally different," the counsel said.

The petition also states that even the government handwriting expert, to whom the court of inquiry referred the matter, had smelled something "amiss" as the sample of the handwriting of the commanding officer was that of 2005 and not of the time when the ARC was written, which give a scope for manipulations. The said ACR had not been sent for forensic examination.

Incidentally, the complainant had earlier been awarded an Army Commander's commendation and was later recommended for the Sena Medal for gallantry for his actions under enemy fire by the same officer accused of tampering his ACR.

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12 sites identified for sale of crackers
Our Correspondent

Mohali, October 17
As many as 12 sites in different areas of the town have been identified by the authorities concerned for the sale of crackers in connection with the festival of Divali.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Tejveer Singh, has ordered that no firecrackers shall be stored or sold in the Mohali district except at places earmarked by Sub Divisional Magistrates (SDMs) for the purpose. He further ordered that no fire crackers or fire works which generated noise levels exceeding the levels specified by the Supreme Court shall be sold or used at any place, including those earmarked by the SDMs.

The order also said that display of fireworks and bursting of crackers would be allowed only from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. but not near hospitals and educational institutions. The order shall remain in force till October 30.

Moreover, this time the authorities concerned are laying various other conditions that have to be followed by those selling crackers in view of the provisions of the Explosives Act, 1983. The cracker sellers have been asked to obtain a license from the SDM after paying a fee of Rs 150. The license is being issued under Article 4 of Schedule IV of the Explosives Act, 1983. The license bears the photograph of the holder and shall remain in force 
till October 22.

In Mohali the SDM, Mr Sandeep Hans, has earmarked 12 sites this year for the sale of crackers. The sites are near Dasehra ground in Phase I, near Bassi theatre in Phase II, opposite Hot Millions in Phase III B 2, opposite Bougainvillea Garden in Phase V, opposite Centurian Bank of Punjab in Phase VII, near YPS chowk in Phase VIII, opposite Food junction in Phase X, opposite house number 1374 in Phase XI, opposite new market in Sector 70, near St Xaviers School in Sector 71, Opposite Municipal Bhawan in Sector 68 and outside Sohana village. 

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Punjab BJP holds protest over price hike
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 17
The Bharatiya Janata Party, Punjab, today protested the unprecedented increase in the prices of essential commodities at their Sector 37 office in the city today. Protesting in a novel way they put up a Divali gift shop outside the office selling various pulses, including rajmah and kala chana.

As a further mark of protest pulses, weighing 1 kg each, were later parcelled to the Prime Minister, Mr Manmohan Singh, and the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, as Divali presents. Party's youth wing led by Vineet Joshi who organised this special Divali gift mela of rajmah and pulses. "These commodities today signify not a middle class dietary component but a luxury commodity, that's precisely why we have them on a Divali gift shop counter. The prices of most common place and basic of things today have spiralled to an unprecedented high. It's high time that we should include such products in our gift list this Divali," remarked Joshi.

Party leaders squarely blamed UPA regime for its failure to put a halt to the spiralling price tags of pulses and rajmah, which form the backbone of middle class dietary component.

"The prices of rajmah and pulses have risen to at least 25 per cent in the past 10 days alone. The Punjab BJP laments the callous and indifferent approach of the Union Government and also its failure to address this vital issue which is pinching the common man today, stated the protesters. Listing out the prices of main pulses the protesters stated that, "Rajmah which till a few days ago was Rs 40 a kg is now being sold for Rs 70 a kg. Similarly, kala chana has seen a hike of over 25 per cent in the past 10 days. "We fail to understand why the Union Government is so callous in its attitude towards the common man", questioned Joshi.

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Sweets’ traders under IT scanner
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 17
With just three days left for Divali, the Income Tax Department today conducted searches on the premises of two major sweets’ manufacturers — Sindhi Sweets and Shiv Mishthan Bhandar — in city. Sources said searches were conducted to match the stocks register with the products being sold.

As many as four premises of Sindhi Sweets, two in Sector 17 and one in Sectors 8 and 37, were searched. Similar raids were conducted on the premises of the Shiv Mishthan Bhandar in the city and Panchkula.

Meanwhile, one of the owners of the Sindhi Sweets, Mr Abhilesh Bajaj, said ," The raids were an unnecessary harassment during the ongoing festival season." Certain records from both the sweet shops were also taken into possession.

A team of six members of the Income Tax Department checked the records of Shiv Mishthan Bhandar, a sweet shop in Sector 7, here today. The checking went on from 11 a.m. and continued till 9.30 p.m.

The team also checked records at a booth of the same chain in the Sector 7 market. 

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Understanding international humanitarian law
Tribune News service

Chandigarh, October 17
The International Humanitarian Law (IHL) is by very nature mystic. Small wonder then that the day-long workshop on the subject organised at Panjab University by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Press Institute of India (PII) drew mixed responses from participants who debated the role of the IHL, its difference from the International Human Rights Law and its connection with global terrorism.

To begin with, heated discussions emerged on the applicability of the IHL when Legal Officer of ICRC K.C. Sowmya detailed the scope of the Law which only applies in situations of armed conflict. As she introduced the IHL, she made a reference to why the IHL would apply to a situation like 9/11 and not to a situation like Kashmir.

Following a frenzied debate on the matter, it became known that the IHL applied only when a state declared war. So, whereas 9/11 resulted in the US declaring a global war on terrorism - an act that naturally invoked the provisions of the IHL - Kashmir was out of bounds of the Law as the Indian Government had not officially declared a state of war in the country.

The IHL is thus clear in scope - it only applies to armed conflicts and does not cover internal tensions or disturbances such as isolated acts of violence. “The law applies only once a conflict has begun and then equally to all sides regardless of who started the fighting,” explained Mr Vincent Nicod, who also delineated the globalisation of violence across the world.

While explaining that the nations had always tried to find fault with the four Geneva Conventions under which the IHL was implemented, Mr Nicod said the conventions were relevant and not old.

“Only the nations need to apply them in the right earnest. The Laws should not be the target. Those violating them should be the targets,” he said.

Later during the day, an exhaustive session was held on Human Rights, Security Forces and Terrorism by D.K. Arya, former BSF chief and now consultant to the ICRC. He listed the huge body of rules that protect human rights and freedom and also pointed towards the existing loopholes. The hallmark of his talk was that security forces, entrusted with the responsibility of protecting rights, sometimes ended up violating them.

Mr V.K. Sibal, member, Punjab State Human Rights Commission, delivered a guest lecture on the need to improve the selection processes that led to the creation of bodies like the National Human Rights Commission and the state commissions.

The workshop was inaugurated by Haryana Governor Dr A.R. Kidwai. Also present on the occasion was Mr Arun Chacko, Director, Press Institute of India and journalists from across the country

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Limiting human suffering in times of war
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Vincent Nicod
Vincent Nicod

Chandigarh, October 17
As guardian of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been involved in reaffirming its validity. Time and again, the law which seeks to limit human suffering in times of armed conflict, has come under question from the international community that has found its own ways of denouncing it.

Despite the fact that all countries have signed the four Geneva Conventions which form the basis for IHL, the violation of human dignity in war time continues. This has weakened the IHL which works on two levels - protects civilians and others who are not parties to the conflict and limits the methods and means of warfare. In the context of the IHL, several concerns loom large. The first stems from mass recruitment of child soldiers across the world (there are over 300, 000 at present) who kill effectively when brainwashed. The second relates to unregulated supply of small military-style weapons which are being increasingly accessed by insurgents to wage wars on states.

In Chandigarh today for a workshop on the IHL, organised at Panjab University by the ICRC and the Press Institute of India, the ICRC Regional Delegate for South Asia, Mr Vincent Nicod, admitted it was as important to pass the message of the IHL to non-state actors as it was to state actors (countries). “Earlier than the cold war, the monopoly of violence was easier to control. But now there is multiplication of actors involved in conflict. Accordingly, it is difficult to negotiate and control violence. We must target these actors and tell them of the costs of war.”

Trafficking of small arms is also a huge concern for Red Cross. “In most countries in the last decade, death has resulted less from major conventional weapons such as missiles and tanks than from small arms and light weapons. These weapons are easy to handle; even children can operate them. Their use is detrimental to the implementation of the IHL. We are urging governments to make stricter laws to govern arms transfers,” Mr Nicod said.

Besides that, the ICRC is impressing upon major players like the USA, China and India to sign and ratify the two recent treaties that enhance the scope of the IHL. “These are the International Criminal Court Treaty and the Ottawa Treaty which bans the use of landmines. These treaties can significantly strengthen the IHL,” said Mr Nicod, whose role in India is very crucial. Here the ICRC is working in Jammu and Kashmir on the basis of an MoU signed with the Union Government.

“We conduct prison visits in the state to ensure minimum international standards are met with respect to treatment of detainees. We also help prisoners with restoration of family links,” Mr Nicod told The Tribune, adding that another mandate of the ICRC across the world and India was provision of healthcare to those disabled and victimised by war.

Red Cross has developed a special technology to fit an amputee with a lighter and cheaper foot. “We have two prosthetic and orthotic centres at Vellore and Bangalore where we are training people from across the world. In Jammu the facility has been available for 18 months and has helped 100 amputees. In Kashmir it has been available for three months”

Healthcare apart, the ICRC is conducting specialised courses on the IHL in some Indian universities, including Jammu and Kashmir University. However, Red Cross in India still enjoys restricted access to conflict-prone areas so far the protection of victims goes. The ICRC is now holding parleys with the Union Government to gain access to the north-east and the Naxalite-infested areas of North India.

On the global level, however, Red Cross’s mandate is to secure respect for the IHL by apprising states of their duties in war time. The challenges for the IHL have never been graver, Red Cross admits.

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MC turns blind eye to overflowing sewage
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 17
A constantly overflowing sewage has been troubling residents of Attawa village (near Sector 42) over the past few months.
The residents allege that the sewerage line, which runs near Akash Hotel, has been a source of problems for the past many years.

"I have been here for the past 10 years and as far I can remember this has always been overflowing," stated Mr Pankaj Goyal, an STD PCO owner.

He says that his business has been affected because of it. "The whole lane stinks and since water is constantly stagnating here, customers refuse to come," adds Mr Pankaj.

The residents says that the repeated complaints to officials have fallen on deaf years. "We went to the local area councillor, Mr Kuldeep Singh. He, however, asked us to give a written complaint and told us he had lot of funds lying which he would use. But nothing has been done," stated Santosh, who runs an electronic shop.

The residents allege that the situation is at its worst in the monsoon. "We want the problem to be solved once and for all, however, we have been told that the sewerage line laid underneath is faulty and no official is prepared to take responsibility. They clean it up temporarily and the situation is back to what it was," states the agitated residents.

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Engg Corps showcase innovations

Chandigarh, October 17
Engineering units of the Western Command today showcased a vast range of innovations and modifications on their existing equipment. The modified equipment and other new in-house developments were displayed at an exhibition, “Tradition of Innovation-2006”, organised by the Corps of Engineers at Chandimandir today.

Over 30 innovations, including vehicles, surveillance gadgets, training aids, simulators, bridges, cranes, etc. were displayed.These innovations were carried out using cost-effective and locally fabricated material to offset the shortfall in standard equipment that occurs due to periodic maintenance. — TNS

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Councillors to visit Goa on study tour
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 17
While the Municipal Corporation is just coming out of a recent controversy regarding study tours, MC councillors are all set to go for two more study tours. One study tour is scheduled to leave for October 22 to Chennai, while another is for November 1 for Mumbai and Goa.

With the MC elections slated for early December, the planned study tours have come as a surprise to many. According to sources in the MCC, H.S. Lucky, Mr Harpreet Babla, Ms Anu Chatrath, Ms Geeta Chaudhary and Mr Subhash Chawla have already given there consent for the study tour going for Chennai, while Mr Surinder Singh, Ms Pushpa Sharma, Mr Jatinder Bhatia, Mr Pradeep Chabbra, Mr Lalit Joshi and Mr Balraj Singh are going to the Mumbai-Goa study tour.

Mr Surinder Singh, Mayor, however, stated that nothing was final and the proposal was under consideration. A Rs 15 lakh budget is kept for the study tours of the councillors. A study tour this year led by Mrs Shyama Negi, senior Deputy Mayor, had gone to Bangalore. 

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UT divided into 15 constituencies
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 17
The Chandigarh Administration has divided the Union Territory area into 15 constituencies for the purpose of election of the members of the Panchayat Samiti. An official list was also issued yesterday determining the area and the reserved wards for the Scheduled Castes and women.

The constituencies of Raipur Khurd, Khuda Lahora, Dhanas and Behlana are reserved for women candidates. The constituency of Mauli Jagran-I is reserved for Scheduled Caste(women).

The Kaimbwala and Sarangpur villages constituencies are reserved for the Scheduled Caste candidates.

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Speaking Out
Traffic plan during rallies needed: residents
Tribune News Service

Ashish Pathak
Ashish Pathak

Aruna Bhardwaj
Aruna Bhardwaj

Ravinder Sharma
Ravinder Sharma

Satinder Singh
Satinder Singh

Vishal Sethi
Vishal Sethi

Chandigarh, October 17
A lack of traffic control and crowd management strategies by the Chandigarh Administration during big rallies on the city roads is the biggest drawback in the system. This was highlighted by a cross-section of the city residents in response to a speaking out by the Tribune reporters here today.

The immediate provocation for the verbal outburst by the concerned citizens was the massive SAD rally in the city yesterday which threw the normal traffic out of gear on the city roads, much to their discomfort. The “public nuisance” lasted throughout the day.

Mrs Aruna Bhardwaj, a lecturer at DAV School, Sector 8, said it was very difficult driving home after the classes because the roads were choked. The traffic movement was jammed because of poor management. The administration needs to have an elaborate plan for the city residents during massive rallies, at least. The general public needs to be informed about the planned traffic movement and the roads they can skip during the peak hours.

Mr Vishal Sethi, a businessman in Sector 22, rued that he could not move out of his office for the entire day because of the traffic chaos on the roads. “Though the traffic cops were deployed near the Aroma Hotel light points, they just stood there without trying to manage the chaos. It seems that the traffic cops are just not prepared to deal with such situations, because every time there is a rally, they seem unable to handle the traffic chaos,” he said.

Mr Ashish Pathak, a lawyer, said, “it is strange that during VIP movements, the city residents are put on the hold on roads for hours and also when big rallies are organsied they once again suffer for no fault of theirs. Students suffer in their classes, professionals suffer in their job and patients suffer in reaching their hospitals.

Mr Pathak said, “I will like the officials to have a round of the Matka chowk after the rally. The plants on the divider have been trampled and the filth was all over the venue. I am not sure what were the alternatives in case the police had resorted to a lathi charge.”

“It is the lack of planning on the part of the officials of Chandigarh Administration and Chandigarh police which leads to chaos on roads when a big rally or demonstration is held at the Matka Chowk,” strongly said Mr Satinder Singh, an advocate.

“ For a VIP, traffic diversion plans are put in action and traffic is regulated on the roads. But for common man there is no planning on part of the officials. Diversion plans should also be for rallies,” he added.

Mr Ravinder Sharma, a government servant, feels the rally at the matka chowk — the nerve centre for traffic moving on the Madhya Marg and Jan Marg —means a headache for the office-goer. “When the agitators arrive and leave the venue, traffic is held up for hours together,” said Mr Sharma.

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Girl killed as wall collapses
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 17
A 15-year-old girl was crushed to death after a wall of Hans Raj serai, which is under construction at the PGI, collapsed here this afternoon. The accident occurred when a log in the scaffolding she was holding on to, gave way.

According to the police, the girl was swinging from the log when it gave way and brought down the wall with it. The girl was buried under the debris and died on the spot. She has been identified as Puja.

The victim’s mother, Santosh Kumari, who works at the site, told the police that she had told her daughter minutes before the accident not to swing as the log was too weak. The victim was rushed to the PGI emergency where she was declared brought dead.

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Spreading AIDS awareness through film
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 17
“Tilkan”, Gurdip Bhullar’s Punjabi film on HIV/AIDS, was screened at Punjab Kala Bhavan last evening. The film, directed by actor-director B.N. Sharma, explores the predicament of a family that contracts HIV infection from a single carrier — the man of the family, played by Shaminder Malhi.

Set in a middle-class household of Punjab, the film deals with the sensitive issue of HIV/AIDS with caution. The dialogues penned by Dr Ajmer Singh Aulakh highlight the nuances of the infection subtly and in a manner that is easily understood.

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Scribes updated on forensic modes
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 17
Latest forensic techniques used in solving infamous Anara Gupta case and the city's own child swapping case were explained at a workshop organised by the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) here for the media personnel.

Organised at the initiative of the Chandigarh Journalists Association, as many as 30 journalists attended the workshop. The Director of the CFSL, Dr R.S. Verma, said the aim of the workshop was to make the mediapersons aware about the advances in forensic sciences used in solving the crime.

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S C Dhall Awarded

Chandigarh, October 17
Mr S C Dhall, branch head of State Bank of Patiala, Kalka Main Branch, was given an award by the Chief General Manager of the bank, Mr Ashok Mukand, for doing excellent work, at a ceremony in Patiala today. — TNS

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Congress leader dead

Chandigarh, October 17
Sham Lal Gupta, Congress leader and a former president of the Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee, died last night. He was cremated here today.
Mr B.B. Bahl, president of the local unit of the party, Mr Surinder Singh, Mayor, and senior leaders of the Congress, besides councillors, were present. Gupta had participated in the freedom struggle and had worked with Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. TNS

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25 drug addicts rescued from centre
Our Correspondent

Mohali, October 17
As many as 25 drug addicts were rescued from a drug de-addiction centre running in Phase X after a raid was conducted by the police here today. The centre was later sealed by the Naib Tehsildar.

Though there were about 50 inmates at the centre when the raid was conducted only about 25 alleged that they had been subjected to inhuman treatment. The others were satisfied with the arrangements.

However, when the centre was sealed by authorities concerned, some of the inmates left for their homes while some of them were taken to a drug de-addiction centre located at Khanpur village near Kharar.

Some drug addicts had alleged that they were often beaten up and not given proper food and medicines, They were also not allowed to meet their relatives. It is reported that about 100 drug addicts had been enrolled by the centre.

It is presumed by officials on duty that the centre was expecting a raid and as such some of the inmates had been sent to other places earlier. It is alleged that the drug addicts who had been badly tortured were sent to other places as the management feared some action by authorities concerned.

Dr Harmeet Kaur, a psychiatrist working in the Phase VI Civil Hospital, who had visited the centre in Phase X along with Dr Surinder Bhagat, said that no major injury marks were noticed on the bodies of the inmates this time. Only two persons had minor injury marks.

The raid conducted today was part of the ongoing raids being conducted on drug de-addiction centres to rescue inmates being subjected to inhuman treatment. This was the second raid conducted in the town on a drug de-addiction centre.

Earlier, a centre running in III B 2 was raided and later sealed. About 70 drug addicts at this centre were allegedly tortured in the name of treatment. When the centre was sealed some parents took their children back home while some were sent to the Civil Hospital here for treatment.

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Man held for assaulting, robbing woman
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 17
A day after an elderly woman was robbed of her ornaments, the local police today arrested her 25-year-old acquaintance on the charges of assaulting and robbing the woman.

Giving details of the incident, the SHO of the Sector 39 police station, Inspector Nanha Ram Kadiyan, said the accused has been identified as Rajesh Kumar alias Virk. He was living in the neighbourhood of the victim, 65-year-old Amarjit Kaur, who is a widow. Son of a post master, Rajesh is a postgraduate and unemployed.

Ms Aramhjit Kaur, lodged a complaint with the police, alleging that the accused had come to her residence on Monday afternoon. As he was known to her she treated him and also served him tea. Later he demanded oil and went to the bathroom. There he manhandled the women and pushed her to the bed and tried to pull her ear rings. The woman reportedly pleaded with him to leave her and she handed him over her three bangles, including a gold bangle.

When the accused left her house, the women reported the matter to the police. Amarjit Kaur is hearing impaired and it was after much efforts that she managed to express the details about the accused. Acting on the information the police traced him today. A case under Sections 392 and 394 of the Indian Penal Code ahs been registered in this regard. 

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Addl Commissioner held taking bribe
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 17
Sleuths of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today nabbed an Additional Commissioner of Income Tax while allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 50,000 from an industrialist in Mandi Gobindgarh.

Sources in the CBI said Mr S.S. Khemwal, the Additional Commissioner of Income Tax, Mandi Gobindgarh, was arrested while taking financial favours from Mr Bhim Sain Raja, Director of Raja Fat and Feed Pvt. Ltd. Mr Sain told the CBI officials that Khemwal was demanding financial favour from him to settle his income tax returns of 2004- 2005.

He further said the officer had threatened him that his company would be subjected to scrutiny and could even carry out a survey of it.

Following this, Mr Sain reported the matter to the CBI and a trap was laid accordingly.

Searches were carried out at his residence and his office premises in this connection.

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CHB employee caught taking bribe
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 17
The UT Vigilance Department yesterday nabbed a technician of the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) while allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 2,000 from a Maloya resident.

Sources in the department said Gurdev Singh of Nadha village was caught while taking Rs 2,000 from Dalip Singh. Dalip Singh told the Vigilance Department that the accused had demanded favours from him for not taking action against him for violating building bylaw.

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Heroine smugglers get 10-year jail
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 17
Four years after four persons were booked for smuggling of heroine worth over RS 5 crore, the Additional District and Session Judge, Chandigarh, Mr S.K.Aggarwal, today sentenced two of the accused, Rajinder and Balwinder to 10 years of imprisonment and Rs 1 lakh fine each.

Two other accused, Harjinder and Ashwani Kumar have been declared proclaimed offender. The police had seized the contraband from the accused on March 2002, when they were traveling in a Contessa Car.

At least 5 kg of the contraband was recovered from the vehicle. The seizure was made on the information of Directorate, Revenue Intelligence. 

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UT cops assaulted during raid
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 17
Two Chandigarh Police officers were bashed by a group of people in Kumhar Colony, here, last night, when they were reportedly carrying out a raid at the residence of a man suspected to be indulging in illegal sale of liquor.

Sources in the Sector 24 Police post said Assistant Sub-Inspector Giarsi Lal and a constable, Sanjay Kumar, was beaten up by one Pardeep Kumar, when the cops were raiding his residence.

Pardeep accompanied by another persons, including some women, opened an attack on the police officers and injured them. Both the police officers were taken to the Sector 16 General Hospital for a medical examination.

When contacted the in charge of Sector 24 police post, Sub-Inspector Poonam Dilawari said ASI Giarsi Lal and constable Sanjay were returning after attending a spot. They were assaulted by Pardeep and two other unidentified men.

About the raid, she maintained that the cops were not raiding the premises of the accused. She said action would be taken against the accused on the basis of medical reports.

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PESCO office raided
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 17
The UT Vigilance Department raided the Punjab Ex-servicemen Corporation's office at Sector 34 in connection with the alleged irregularities pertaining to the salaries of their employees and scrap material worth lakh of rupees sold by PESCO. The raids were conducted on Monday night.

Sources in the vigilance department said they have demanded record of salaries of their employees deployed as Security Guards with various establishments including CITCO, BSNL and BBMB. These employees were provided jobs by the ex-servicemen.

Officials in the Vigilance Department said they would also verify the records pertaining to 38 tonnes of scrap of bullet-proof steel worth about Rs 45 lakh and other spare parts worth about Rs 20 lakh, which were allegedly sold by the PESCO officials at a throwaway price of Rs 5 lakh. Sources said the officials have agreed to provide the records to the sleuths with a couple of days. They also scrutinise the records about the misuse of official vehicles. 

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Ranjana files complaint against Farooq
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 17
Ms Ranjana Shahi, former councillor of the Municipal Corporation, filed a criminal complaint against Dr Farooq Abdullah today. She has filed the complaint based on the statements given by the former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir published in a national daily and aired on a TV channel.

She filed the petition under Sections 121, 124 A and 506 IPC for sedation, waging war against the country and criminal intimidation. 

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Divali gods, with blessings from China
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 17
Goddess Laxmi and many other deities have arrived in Chandigarh and other boom towns of the region all the way from China especially for Divali in their traditional attires with blessings and promises of prosperity. The gods have brought along with them aromatic and other designer candles, along with glowing strawberries, cherries and raspberries from across the border for making the fiesta of lights more bright and fruitful.

Imported idols and Divali embellishments were there last year also. Nevertheless the divine stuff was mundane and earthly, with very little to choose from. But things are different in the festive season of 2006.

“Over 90 per cent of the decorations and idols this time are from China ,” says Ankur Jindal of Sector 15 gift gallery “Friends”. “Rather, the Chinese have flooded the market with almost everything you can think of that is related to the festival.”

No wonder, you have impressive idols of Lord Ganesha and Sherawali Mata, along with the statues of Lord Shiva and his family complete with the Shivling. You can also pick up the tableau of Lord Rama holding court with his brother Lord Lakshman and goddess Sita.

A look at the idols and other stuff dazzling on the glass shelves is enough to tell you that the Chinese have carried out thorough and aggressive research of not just the local market, but also the Indian mythology and tradition before designing and preparing the items. In fact, the idols have verses from the Holy Scriptures embossed at the base.

Their Indian counterparts are also there on the shelves, but the idols are not “all that impressive”. In fact, poor finish is the first thing that strikes you about the great Indian idols. “The prices of the Indian and the imported stuff are almost the same,” says Ms Raman of The Jewels in Sector 11.

Explaining the trend, she adds: “The Chinese have always been sensitive towards the market needs. Initially, they flooded the markets with pens and then with their native foodstuff. And now you can savour the flavour through electronic gadgets tailor-made to suit the Indian environment and taste, along with their toys and dolls that croon hit numbers from Bollywood flicks.”

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Stress laid on standard in small business
Tribune News Service

Mr P K Mudhopadhyay, Director, BIS, addresses delegates at a seminar organised on World Standards Day at Chandigarh on Monday
Mr P K Mudhopadhyay, Director, BIS, addresses delegates at a seminar organised on World Standards Day at Chandigarh on Monday. — A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh, October 17
There is a need for adoption of standards in manufacturing processes in order to face globalisation. This sentiment was expressed by delegates from all over Punjab, Haryana and Himachal, who had gathered here to participate in a seminar on “Standards – Big Benefits for Small Business”.

The seminar was organised by the Bureau of Indian Standards, as part of celebrations for the World Standards Day. Mr S C Aggarwal, Principal Secretary, Industries and Commerce, Punjab, was the chief guest on the occasion.

The technical session of the seminar, was chaired by Mr S. K. Sharma, Chief, Tractor Operations, HMT, Pinjore. He said that standardising the manufacturing process at all stages will definitely aid the small-scale industry in ensuring their competence in the days to come.

Mr Paramjeet Singh, Manager, Philips Electronics India Limited, Mohali, said the strength of small sector could truly be expressed by the adoption of standards in their processes and products, else non-standardisation will affect the quality, cost and delivery of the products to the consumers.

Ms Monica Nagpal, MD, Technofab India Pvt Limited, said that because of consumer awareness, the manufacturer is liable to offer improved standard and quality product. Mr Gaurav Jain, MD, U J International, Karnal spoke about various benefits accrued to them by adopting standardisation in their manufacturing process.

Mr P K Mudhopadhyay, Director, BIS, while reading the theme paper of the seminar said that SSI sector in India needs to adopt pro-active role in the standardisation process from the development stages in order to reap the benefits for national and international markets.

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