C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S

A loyal gathering slaves on
Old Labour Chowk reels under Administration’s apathy
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 1
Despite all odds, the legendary Labour Chowk in Chandigarh continues to be a second home to migrant workers. It is, however, a home without a roof and without any semblance of security.

And its fate is not going to change any time soon, considering the UT Administration’s apathy towards the condition of those who come here in the hope of getting work. In the name of support, they virtually have nothing. Let alone sheds to fight heat, cold and dust, there is no supply of drinking water here.

Ask the authorities the reason behind the indifference and they say: “The official Labour Chowk of Chandigarh is now located in Colony No. 5. We have made provision for sheds there. The old Labour Chowk, which stood at the intersection of Sectors 20 and 21, no longer exists so far as we are concerned.”

And yet, thousands of workers assemble at the old Labour Chowk every morning and throw themselves headlong into the race for subsistence. For them, the old Labour Chowk is the only Labour Chowk. Om Prakash, a 65-year-old mason, has been coming here for 50 years. Struggle in the unorganised sector has taken a toll on the poor man, who is suffering from severe arthritis. Unable to walk, he, however, never fails to visit the chowk. The reason — he has two unmarried daughters and no saving.

Unprotected by laws, he pins his hopes on Rs 200 a day. However, even that seems a privilege now. “No one wants an old and sick mason when there are young workers hankering after jobs. I still come hoping to make money. Otherwise my family would have to sleep hungry.” Om Prakash never goes to the official Labour Chowk, nor does Naseeb Singh, another veteran labourer. He says, “The new site is far off and overcrowded. Those who go there hardly get enough money to buy them a cup of tea.”

Like these two, other workers in the unorganised sector also sweat it out through the day for a pittance. The best they get is Rs 200 a day — that too if their employer has a conscience. There have been cases where construction labourers have been sent back penniless from work, thanks to the absence of protective laws covering the unorganised sector. Unshielded, these labourers often put up with the worst forms of harassment. Ram Kumar, a carpenter, says, “Policemen round us up, take us to the police station and make us work all day. They don’t let us stand at the chowk. The new site is no good. It has no potential as prospective employers don’t frequent it.”

The workers’ only demand is a place to wait for work opportunity. Some of them, however, even plead that their daily wage be hiked to Rs 300. Suresh Kumar and Shyam Sunder, who have been working from the chowk for 20 years, say, “When we started coming here rice was Re 1 a kg. Now it is Rs 16 a kg. A litre of kerosene costs Rs 30. What can we buy for Rs 200? There are days when we don’t get any work.”

However, that is little concern to the authorities who are waiting for the Government of India to pass an Act to cover the unorganised sector. Whereas a few state governments like Kerala have brought some unorganised sectors under the minimum wages bracket, no such attempts are being made here.

Ironically, this city has the highest per capita income; its minimum wage is fixed at Rs 2,500. And yet, thousands of workers and their families will go to bed hungry tonight.



Cricket argument turns bloody
Enraged uncle kills toddler
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 1
An innocuous conversation on cricket soon turned into a debate, leading to an argument. It went horribly wrong and ended up claiming a toddler’s life in Sector 30 here.

In a fit of rage, an Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) with the Punjab Police allegedly picked up his two-and a half-year-old nephew and repeatedly flung him on the floor, resulting in grievous injuries on Monday night after he failed to convince the victim’s father and another relative.

The seriously injured victim, Lovepreet, was rushed to the PGI in an unconscious condition, where he succumbed to his injuries on Tuesday afternoon. Lovepreet was the only child of his parents.

The accused, Malkiat Lal, visiting the victim’s family at their Sector 30 residence, was on “cricket-duty” at the PCA Stadium. The victim’s father Kuldeep Bhagat, working with the Provident Fund Department, and the accused are first cousins.

The accused later repented his action and smashed his head against the wall, thus injuring himself. He, too, was admitted to the PGI and is still undergoing treatment. Malkiat Lal, a resident of Police Colony, Jamalpur in Ludhiana, is posted at the Police Lines there.

Meanwhile, the police has booked him in a case of murder under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code following a complaint lodged by victim’s uncle Sandeep Bhagat. He is the real brother of Kuldeep Bhagat.

When media persons visited the victim’s residence, the family, in a state of shock, simply said the police had registered a wrong case of murder as it was an accident. They said the child got hurt after slipping from the staircase.

According to the police, the incident took place on Monday night at around 8 pm, when the accused Kuldeep Bhagat and Sandeep Bhagat were discussing the performance of cricket teams during a recent match. The discussion soon took an ugly turn and in a matter of seconds Malkiat Lal allegedly felt infuriated. The father of the victim, 

Kuldeep Bhagat, was not at home at the time of the incident.

Refuting the family’s claim of accidental death, the SHO of the Industrial Area police station, Inspector Baljit Singh Chadda, asserted that the case was registered on the basis of a complaint lodged by Sandeep Bhagat. The statement recorded by the family also clearly indicated that Malkiat Lal had tossed the child to the floor resulting in child’s death.

The body was today handed over to the family after a postmortem.



Cricket fans fleeced by stall owners
Kulwinder Sangha

Mohali, November 1
Cricket enthusiasts were compelled to shell out extra bucks for eatables during the ICC Champions Trophy matches held at the PCA cricket stadium here.

As no eatables or even water was allowed in from outside, they were left with no choice but to be at the mercy of persons who had set up stalls inside the stadium.

Complaints were received that cricket fans had to pay upto 50 per cent more than the market price for some items while water was being supplied at almost double the price. It is reported that cricket buffs were fleeced the most during the match held between India and Australia on October 29.

Umesh, a student doing a diploma course in IT who had gone to see the match between Australia and New Zealand today, told The Tribune that he was surprised to see that rates of eatables which were already on the high side, being hiked further on Sunday when the stadium was full of spectators.

On that day, charges varied from block to block and from time to time. A person sitting in the first row was offered an ice cream for Rs 30 while was sold for Rs 40 in the next row, he added.

I hurriedly told my friends to buy ice cream at the earliest fearing that the price may rise up to Rs 100 by the time the vendor reached the last row”.

A packet of noodles, available for Rs 20 during other matches, was sold for Rs 25 on October 29 and similarly a glass of soft drink, otherwise available for Rs 15, was sold for Rs 20 during the match between India and Australia. A bottle of water was sold for Rs 20 while Rs 5 was charged for a glass of water.

When asked about the quality of eatables , another student from Moga , Satvir Singh, said even though the rice he was eating appeared to be not fully cooked, he was not bothered as he was feeling hungry.

Airing similar views, Mr Surinder Kumar, an elderly cricket lover from Panchkula, said a small packet of chips was sold for Rs 20 on October 29 which was available for Rs 15 during other matches. The same packet of chips was sold for Rs 10 in the market. Coffee was given at Rs 10 a glass but the quantity offered varied from person to person.

He complained that parking rates were also very high. Those parking cars were asked to pay Rs 20 for each vehicle while owners of two-wheelers had to pay Rs 10.

Mr Surinder Kumar added that though the security arrangements were satisfactory, there was a need to have a separate queue for senior citizens so that they didn’t have to wait for long to get into the stadium.

Mr Sunil Kumar Sharma lamented that no arrangements had been made for physically challenged persons. He said he had to face a lot of problem to get into the stadium. Some spectators had complained that seats in the stadium were dirty.



Bollywood stars add zing to Australia-New Zealand tie
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 1
Many Bollywood stars lit up the ambience of the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) stadium with their presence during the first semifinal between Australia and New Zealand here today.

The stars, who turned up to grace the stadium which otherwise was filled just 25 to 30 per cent of its capacity, were evergreen Rishi Kapoor, Naseeruddin Shah alongwith his wife, Ratna Shah, and Katrina Kaif.

Besides them, the former captain of Indian cricket squad, Mohammad Azharuddin, was also present to see the tie at the stadium.

Talking to the TNS, the veteran actor, Naseeruddin Shah, said: “I love cricket so I am here to watch the match. It does not matter to me which team is playing.”

Praising the stadium, Shah said he had visited the beautiful stadium earlier. The actor, who was accompanied by his wife and son, left the stadium when the New Zealand team was batting.

Giving the reasons of their early exit, he said: “The match lacked excitement and was not progressing according to my expectations so we are leaving.” The stars are in the town for the shooting of a film.

Meanwhile, the PCA authorities got some relief to see some crowd turned up to watch today’s match. By the evening, the stands were filled up to more than 30 per cent of the capacity.

No matter, most of the spectators managed to get free passes or tickets to see the match. It was learnt that many big companies, which have bought bulk of tickets in the hope of India reaching the semifinal stage, distributed the lot free of cost to influential people of the city.

“My friend, who holds a high post in a big company, called me up yesterday and gave me four tickets of the match free of cost,” said Mr Ajay Sharma, who came with his family to see the match. A group of college students too got free passes.

“Actually, we wanted to see the day and night match at the stadium. As we got an opportunity to fulfill the desire without spending any penny, we came here,” said Nisha and her friends.



Tough going for patients, attendants at PGI
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 1
Scores of patients and their attendants who come from far-flung areas for better medicare have to face harassment for the last many years in the absence of a single window system at the Emergency OPD of the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER).

Moreover, the inadequate staff strength at the emergency ward, has been further compounding their problems. In absence of “dedicated helping hands” at the Emergency ward the ‘helpless’ patients and their attendants rush restlessly to get various tests done.

The situation is much worse during the year-end as a majority of the hospital staff has been availing the leave, thus curtailing the staff strength to a great extent.

After reaching the emergency many time patients have to control their anger when they find dirty stretchers, some times broken or with missing wheels. On getting entry from the main gate they have to wait for the doctors while lying on the stretchers. Many of them undergo treatment while lying on stretchers in corridors outside the overcrowded emergency ward.

As per the hospital records, about 350 to 400 patients are being registered at the emergency OPD every day. The patient-doctor ratio has dwindled rapidly in the last a couple of years that has further put additional burden on the doctors during emergency duty.

The uninterrupted police persons accompanying medico legal cases (MLCs) further add to the congestion inside the emergency wards.

The patients and their attendants feel much harassed when they had to deposit samples in different floors of different buildings and search their results from huge piles of test reports. The patients and attendants have to spend long time as the concerned employee generally ask them to search their reports themselves, claimed Mr Sandeep Kumar, an attendant.

He added that the PGI employees often use some English words floor, block, room no … and other terms with illiterate patients and attendants which further put them into a great quandary, explained Mrs Meera Devi, a resident of Solan who was attending her sister at the PGI Emergency OPD.

The PGI Director, Prof. KK Talwar, admitted that the Emergency OPD was running over crowded. He, however, claimed that the hospitals in the neighbouring states have been aggravating the problem of overcrowding as they lack of infrastructure and refer patients straight to the PGI after just providing them the preliminary medical assistance.

Speaking on the issue Dr Talwar disclosed that a 100-bed trauma centre is being set up to accommodate accident victims rushed to the neurology and the orthopaedic departments of the PGI as casualty cases. He also claimed that the city hospitals — Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, and the Government Multi-Speciality Hospital, Sector 16 — have also been asked to refer only those cases to the PGI which could not be treated on their own levels.

The single window system could be possible in the PGI after the entire hospital was connected through the local area network (LAN). Each and every department of the PGI would be connected through the LAN and a sum of Rs 20 crore has already been sanctioned for the project, he claimed. 



Security beefed up at passport office
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 1
The security at the Regional Passport Office, Sector 34, has been tightened following the alleged theft of 48 passports from the office.

According to sources, the internal staff has been strictly told to be accountable for their work, while various areas of responsibilities have been segregated. Sources disclosed that other security measures were also being contemplated.

Meanwhile, applicants going to the passport office will not be allowed to carry any bags or material, except the required documents.

Applicants will also not be allowed to be accompanied by anybody else into the premises, except in the case of old people and children.

The sources said these steps had already been put in place for the past month.

Also, the processing of the 48 applications, whose passports have been stolen, has been started again. According to sources, they will be issued fresh passports, which will be dispatched soon.



RTI Act: Kalam’s intervention sought
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 1
A group of social activists from Chandigarh has sough the President of India's intervention in making the Right to Information (RTI) Act more proactive than it presently is.

At a meeting held at Rashtrapati Bhavan on October 28, representatives of the Burning Brains Society and Citizens Voice, two voluntary organisations active in North India, apprised President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam of some deficiencies in the Act which were marring its unique character. The principal among these are the exclusion of civil society from the Act and lack of uniformity in RTI rules.

Ever since the Act came into force, institutions and trusts have not been able to use it due to vague interpretation of the "RTI Act" by the Central Information Commission (CIC). The CIC has held that any NGO, a trust, a society or other such institution is not eligible to seek information under the Act. "Such interpretation," activists say, is incorrect and illegal.

Mr Hemant Goswami of the Burning Brains Society clarifies: "In legal terms, all NGOs, trusts and societies can approach the High Court or the Supreme Court for the protection of their fundamental rights. It is strange that they have been denied the right to seek information under the RTI Act."

The RTI Act says that only a "person" can seek information and a "person" can file appeal with the Information Commission. Even if that be so, Article 367 of the Constitution demands that "General Clauses Act, 1897" be referred to for any interpretation of the word "person". According to this Act, "person" shall include any company or association or body of individuals, whether incorporated or not."

Under the RTI Act, however, this interpretation has been ignored. The representation submitted to the President seeks immediate rectification of the misinterpretation. It also raises the issue of lack of uniformity in RTI rules - something that is defeating the purpose of the Act. Section 27 and 28 of the Act empower "State Governments" and "Competent Authorities" to make their own rules. These provisions are being misused grossly.

Many states and competent authorities have prescribed fee as high as Rs 500 (instead of Rs 10 as prescribed by the Act) for seeking information. Complicated forms and payment methods to deposit RTI fee have been prescribed, making it impossible for poor and illiterate people to seek information.

The Delhi High Court has prescribed a fee of 500 for getting information. It has also reduced to Rs 50 the fine on the official who fails to furnish information. The fine under the Act is Rs 250 per day.

And that's not all. Some authorities have changed rules to the detriment of the Act. Himachal Pradesh which has several people living below the poverty line has prescribed two complicated forms for seeking information. Not just that, it accepts fee only if the same is deposited in its treasury and three copies of the treasury receipt are deposited along with the two mentioned forms.

Any issue related to a matter spread over 10 years requires an applicant to submit 10 separate applications, one pertaining to each year and deposit a separate set of forms and fee for each year. Many other state governments like Haryana have enhanced the RTI fee to Rs 50.

In many ways then the power granted to state government and authorities to frame their own rules under the Act is being misused. The President of India has now promised to look into these and other vital issues the representation raises.



Watch out

The product of the Badminton Coaching Centre at Tau Devi Lal Sports Complex, Panchkula, Sourabh Kapoor will represent Panjab University in the All-India Inter-University Badminton Tournament (boys & girls) being held in Mumbai. The promising shuttler Sourabh is a student of DAV College, Sector 10, and ranked 3rd in the Junior National under 19 category.

He has also won the Haryana State Championship in every category of the sport.



In Town

Actor Akshay Kumar is here to shoot in the region for Vipul Shah’s “Namaste London” with Katrina Kaif.

The film has Akshay in the role of a flamboyant Punjabi and he is currently basking in the adulation of having delivered a series of hits in genres as varied as comedy and even emotional roles. He also features in a Sikh religious video “Nirgun Raakh Liya” released this year. Known to do his stunts himself, he hurt his back while lifting the 350 pound WWF wrestler, The Undertaker in a film.



Passing Through

How is video email better than text email?

Video email is the technology of the future. In the coming days, it will take the web world by storm and completely replace text messages. MyVideo Talk is Internet’s fastest, easiest, affordable and feature rich product. This video mail will live up to its vision of “bringing the world closer” as customers can convey their ideas and feelings in a quicker, economic and lively manner to the receiver.

What are the other benefits offered by MyVideo Talk?

Besides offering video for email communications and websites, we offer video-conferencing facilities. The company’s success in Europe and the expansive network indicates that the market is ready for these futuristic communication tools. Considering that there are one billion people online, sending over 40 billion emails daily, the target market is gigantic and continues to increase in size. With the spread of broadband connections worldwide, demand for video technology is increasing rapidly.

When did you launch this technology?

We had launched this technology in the USA in 2004, in Europe last year and are launching this in India now. Our annual turnover is to the tune of $ 30 million.

Ruchika M. Khanna



Zirakpur NAC illegal, claims expert
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 1
A former revenue official of the Punjab Government, Mr P.S. Kumedan, who has been the SDM, Kharar, today said the formation of the nagar panchayat at Nayagaon and the Notified Area Committee (NAC) at Zirakpur was illegal. “The court should take notice of it and take action”, he added.

Mr Kumedan, who is known as an authority on revenue matters, said both notifications were issued without laying down rules under which such notifications could be issued.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr Kumedan said the Punjab New Capital (Periphery) Control Act, 1952, did not give the government any power to compound or regularise illegal constructions in an area. To grant permission to any construction in an area falling on the periphery of Chandigarh, the Act says the government shall make rules regarding the principles and conditions under which permission may be granted or refused.

Also, all rules that are formed are to be laid before the legislature. In this case, Mr Kumedan says, no rules exist. Giving the nagar panchayat or NAC status to a particular area does not mean that the area will be exempted from the provisions governing the periphery.

The government should have amended the Act if such a nagar panchayat or an NAC was to be announced, he said. Mr Kumedan said In case of Nayagaon and Zirakpur, the abadi itself was illegal and hence there was no question of regularise the construction.

He came down heavily on the system of having private colonisers take over the system of providing housing for people in Punjab. A one kanal plot was being sold for Rs 80 lakh on the periphery of Mohali, which a salaried-class person could not afford, he said, adding that PUDA had turned into a profit-making body.



Woman found drugged
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 1
General Hospital, Sector 6, here is her new home and the staff in the ward is her extended family. A woman Renu, found on the Ramgarh-Barwala highway in a drugged state, is recuperating in the hospital.

Limping in and out of the ward with a plastered leg and a walker, she has been provided clothes by a ward attendant. While she has spoken to nobody since she got admitted to the ward, Renu manages to take care of her needs on her own.

Stating that the girl was Assamese, yesterday, the police made the last effort to know about her. They called in ITBP personnel hailing from Assam in the hope that she will say something — disclose her identity or recall what had happened to her.

However, the men too drew a blank, maintaining that what she spoke was not Assamese. Police sources said that they had tried all possible languages but the girl seemed to be “mentally challenged”. Now, the police said, it would proceed accordingly in her case.



250 attend seminar on foeticide
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 1
Nehru Yuva Kendra organised a one-day workshop and seminar on gender equity, foeticide and social evils at Munji Mandir, Sector-23, here.

As many as 250 persons participated in the workshop and seminar.

Dr G.S. Bajwa, District Youth Coordinator, Nehru Yuva Kendra, Chandigarh, welcomed the guests and briefed the aims of this programme.

He added that despite being a progressive state, Punjab had the worst sex ratio in the country.

The workshop and seminar was inaugurated by Mr V.K. Shukla, Zonal Director, NYKS Zone Punjab and Chandigarh, and Col. Bedi (retired), from the Technical Training Youth Society, Chandigarh.

Dr Avnish Jolly discussed the importance of woman in the ancient society where the role of woman was positive in every sphere of life but today's woman were themselves responsible for ''Bhrun Hatya''. Mr V.K. Shukla, Zonal Director, NYKS Punjab and Chandigarh, in his presidential speech said woman could play a major role to overcome their social and family problems.

Dr Sangeeta Jund gave an account on decreasing the number of female girl in the Punjab, particularly Fatehgarh Sahib where the female ratio is lowest throughout the country. Miss Bhumika from the Voluntary Health Association of Punjab, emphasised the need of sensitising the public against the social evils. Mr Pritpal Singh, president of the Youth Club, Khuda Lahora, Chandigarh, gave a vote of thanks.



Minerva Academy marches ahead
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Daun (Mohali), November 1
The Minerva Academy making officers out of men has turned 51. And the institute, after emerging victorious in the battle against time, is celebrating the triumph with a bang.

Way back in 1955, eight years after the borders of religion, caste and creed were converted into political and geographical boundaries - India was struggling to rise from the ashes of Partition.

With the country's economy still involved in the battle for survival and powers-that-be fighting hard to adopt scrape and save measures, Punjab's then Chief Minister felt recruitment of one member from each family into the forces would not just strengthen the country's defences, but also the household budget.

It was then that the academy came into being with the objective of training youngsters eager to get into the services. Since then, over 29,000 candidates have made it to the armed forces after undergoing extensive training at the victorious academy. The Chief of the Army Staff, General J.J. Singh, is just one of them.

As the institute celebrates its 51st anniversary on Thursday, retired and serving officers from across the country are expected to converge at the academy sprawling over 10 acres at Daun, a hamlet just 10 km away from the Chandigarh bus stand. Among them will be officers passing out from the first batch.

The history behind the academy's setting up is perhaps as interesting as its achievements.

As the academy's founder Principal Ms J. Deol knew members of the Service Selection Board (S.S.B.), relations started requesting her to put in a word.

But instead of recommending names, she would often help the candidates by giving tips for a couple of days and feel happy when they were selected. Realising her potential, the academy's Founder Director, Lt-Col I.S. Deol, persuaded her to give professional training and the academy came into existence.

The academy was named 'Minerva' after the Roman goddess of war and wisdom. Astonishingly, all the boys coached in the first batch were

Their success helped the institute in establishing itself and its popularity continued to increase with every passing day.

Since she could not cope with the task single-handed, Col Deol known for his unique and captivating technique of coaching involving thrill and laughter took premature retirement for helping her out.

Their daughter-cum-Punjab's former IAS officer Rupan Deol Bajaj says the academy initially started functioning from Shimla before it was shifted to Jalandhar. From there it came to Chandigarh before being set up at Daun village.

Recalling the good old days spent seeing her father coaching the aspirants; Ms Bajaj says he would charge the bare minimum from the candidates and refuse to increase the coaching fee "in the larger interest of the society".

"I would often wonder whether he was paying from his own pocket to keep the show going," says Ms Bajaj. "Keeping up with the tradition, the academy is today also charging less than Rs 5,000 from the students for 100-hour coaching spread over 10 days. The amount includes breakfast and two meals, besides the 
customary tea."

True victory, indeed! 



Speaking out
Not many favour mobile phones for jail inmates
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 1
The recent incident of mobile phones and SIM cards being recovered from some inmates of the high-security Kot Bhalwal Jail near Jammu has again generated a debate as to whether mobile phones should be allowed to jail inmates, particularly undertrials, or not.

While a section of society, especially human rights activists, have been demanding that undertrials lodged in various jails be allowed to possess mobile phones, law enforcing agencies and jail officials have strongly opposed such a demand.

Due to security concerns, mobile phones and many other facilities are not extended to inmates of various jails.

However, the recent recovery of mobiles and SIM cards from a terrorist in the Kot Bhalwal Jail, coupled with the fact that dangerous criminals, particularly gangsters, have easy access to mobile phones even inside high security prisons such as the Tihar Jail, has resulted in suggestions from some quarters that allowing jail inmates to have mobiles would not be that bad an idea as it is made out to be.

The Tribune talked to a cross-section of people to get their views of the subject.

“Allowing undertrials to keep mobile phones would be a good idea. After all, why deprive a human being of something only because that something could prove to be dangerous.

“Prisons are supposed to be reformatory homes. Therefore, allowing mobile phones to inmates can allow them access to their families and the outside world,” asserts advocate Ranjan Lakhanpal, chairman, World Human Rights Protection Council.

However, another lawyer, Mr Raman Walia, does not share his peer’s point of view.

He says: “It would be silly to extend this facility to prisoners as a majority of them would misuse it. And, who will monitor the calls made by the prisoners? Already, a majority of our jails are understaffed and overburdened.”

Another lawyer, Mr Munish Jolly, too echoes similar views.“The jails don’t have just undertrials. There are hardcore criminals also. While it is not a bad idea to allow inmates to communicate with their family members through the telephone, the same should be done only under supervision of jail staff. This will ensure that nobody misuses this facility,” Mr Jolly says.

An official of the Burail Jail, who did not wish to be quoted, also expressed similar feelings.

He said a majority of the inmates of the Burail Jail were people with a criminal bent of mind who would find a way to misuse any such facility extended to them.

“Where is the staff to monitor all calls? We can't stand over each and every prisoner to check if he is playing some mischief. Moreover, what about characters like Jagtar Singh Hawara, who will try every trick to escape?” he asks.



Parking — a nagging problem for hotel-goers
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 1
Parking continues to be a problem in hotels across the city. In a majority of hotels, the parking space is either grossly inadequate, or completely missing. As a result, a large number of guests and visitors to these hotels are forced to park their vehicles in front of buildings.

A visit to some of the hotels in the city is enough to reveal that the lack of parking space within the buildings is resulting in occupation of precious parking space in the lots adjoining the sites by the guests. As such, other motorists visiting the markets, where these hotels are located, are forced to park their vehicles on the roads or even on footpaths.

The situation is particularly bad in Sector 35 and 22. Though these two sectors house over 20 hotels, the parking space is completely missing in almost all buildings.

As visitors and guests to the hotels, along with other shoppers, leave behind their vehicles in the lots, traffic bottlenecks are created, often resulting in jams, right from morning till late at night.

At times, it becomes even impossible to pass through the lots as even the introduction of the paid-parking systems in these sectors have failed to make a difference.

Another related problem is that of firefighting. Although senior officers in the Fire Department prefer to maintain silence over the issue, the sources agree that the haphazardly parked vehicles leave hardly any space for the firefighters to move about.

“In case of a blaze, the fire tenders will just not be able to come near the buildings on fire due to the constant congestion in the parking lots,” the sources said. “Fighting fire from a distance will just not prove effective as the water pressure will be lost in the process”.

The state of affairs is hardly any better in the CITCO-run hotels including Shivalikview and Mountview, along with some other hotels like the Taj where space has not been provided to park two-wheelers.

“During exhibitions, conferences and other such events, the parking lots are more often jam-packed, resulting in spilling over of vehicles on the adjoining roads,” said a city-based businessman-cum-regular diner Dheeraj Kumar.

He adds that the conditions in and around so many hotels in the city are worse during marriage functions as tents are often pitched in the parking lots existing inside the buildings, forcing the visitors to leave behind their vehicles on the roads.

A senior officer in the UT Administration says ideally the hotels should have the parking lots in the basements or even on some other floor of the building so as to prevent the chocking of the lots. He adds that the builders and the architects are now being asked to provide for parking space within the buildings before getting the construction plans approved. 



IGP stresses transparency in force
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 1
No one is above the law and the law should prevail. This was stated by the UT Inspector-General of Police, Mr S.K. Jain while addressing the city residents at the Sector 17 police station, here yesterday.

Visitors’ week is organised internationally in association with police agencies and civil societies all over the world from October 29 to November 4. During the session residents from various parts of the city expressed views about police functioning and also highlighted the problems faced by them. The function was attended by all senior officers of UT Police. Dr Parmod Kumar, Director of the Institute of Development and Communication, was also present on the occasion.

The IGP stressed the need of transparency and sense of accountability in the police force. Replying to a query, he stated that the persons providing help to accidents victims would not be harassed and assured that the police would let the person go after taking down his name and address.

Most of speakers avoided to ask blunt questions. They rather tried their best to draw a rosy picture of the Chandigarh Police, failing the very purpose of the function. They cannot afford to displease the SHO of their area, said a police officer on the condition of anonymity.

Mr B.S. Gill, a trade unionists leader, suggested to the police that Sikh persons who were taken into custody should be allowed to wear patkas in the lock-up. He also pointed out that it was a common sight outside the lock up that the turbans of the Sikhs were kept near the shoes outside the lock up. He asked the police to provide a stool for keeping the same.



Rly station spruced up for GM’s visit
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 1
The Chandigarh Railway Station has been spruced up and redone much to the surprise of the passengers. The efforts to redo the place, it is learnt, have been made keeping in mind the visit of Mr VN Mathur, General Manager, Northern Railways, who is expected to come to the city on his annual inspection tomorrow.

According to sources, he inspected the stretch of Saharanpur to Ambala today. He will visit the railway stations of Kalka, Chandigarh, Chandimandir and Lalru with all senior officials of the Ambala division.

The entrance at the station has now been paved with tiles in place of a road that was earlier there. A VIP lounge has been constructed, while other rest rooms and waiting rooms have been spruced up with fresh interiors. New glow signboards have also been put up to help passengers find his way. 



Mann for free trade with Pak
Our Correspondent

Mohali, November 1
Borders with Pakistan should be opened so that farmers of Punjab and others could carry out a free trade. This was stated by Mr Simranjeet Singh Mann, SAD (A) president, while addressing mediapersons here today.

He said the Centre had announced that the MSP for wheat would be Rs 750 per quintal but the same produce could be sold for Rs 1,200 per quintal in Pakistan if free trade was allowed.

Launching an attack on Mr Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, he said the former had justified the “massacre” of Sikhs at Kathunangal. He alleged that Mr Vedanti and Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD chief, were using Akal Takht for personal benefit. He said Akal Takht belonged to the Sikh panth and was not their personal property.

He said efforts would be made to liberate the SGPC from the hands of a few people with vested interests. He would be holding a march from Fatehgarh Sahib to Badal village to expose the activities of the SAD leader. 



Protest over illegal bus parking
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 1
Up in arms against illegal parking of tourist buses, in front of residential area, scores of Sector 21-B residents protested against the transporter and his staff members for creating nuisance in the locality late this night. The resident came out of their houses when a chunk of greenbelt was virtually encroached upon by the buses with stereos on full volume. The residents also called the police following which a police party reached the spot.

A majority of the bus drivers sped away soon after noticing the police challaning their vehicles. The police could challan only one bus.

Mr Hardeep Singh, a resident, complained that the transporters have been using a service road in front of House Nos 1276 to 1287 apart from a greenbelt for the past couple of years. The residents alleged that the driver often created nuisance after consuming liquor and urinated in the open. They used abusive language following which altercations had resulted many times.

With the parking of buses there was no space left for their own vehicles. Many times, the area residents have to park their vehicles either in front of the neighbours’ houses or in a market parking across the road. The police official at the spot, however, claimed that a court case was pending. The residents, however, ruled out police claims. 



Couples keen to adopt abandoned baby
Our Correspondent

Mohali, November 1
A number of couples are interested in adopting a newborn male who was found abandoned on a roadside here yesterday.

The baby has been kept at the Civil Hospital and is being looked after by the hospital staff. Police protection is also being provided to the baby.

Mr Sandeep Hans, SDM, said he had received about 10 applications from couples who were interested in adopting the baby. He said the decision in this regard had to be taken by a committee. Till the decision was taken and all other formalities were completed, the baby would be kept at the hospital.

The baby, wrapped in a shawl, was found abandoned on a roadside near the Radha Soami Satsang. Some women who had gone to collect firewood in the area heard the baby crying. One of them took him to her jhuggi and informed the police.



11 new cases of suspected dengue
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 1
Eleven new cases of suspected dengue were reported in the PGI in past 24 hours. Out of these, six belong to the tricity.

At present 19 patients of confirmed dengue have been undergoing treatment at the PGI. Three of them are critical.



Air Marshal Bhan takes charge
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 1
Air Marshal Shiv Bhan today took over as Senior Air Staff Officer in the Western Command. He was awarded VSM in 1994 and Ati Vishisht Seva Medal in 1999.

He has held several important command and staff appointments.



Colonel dies of cancer
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 1
Lt-Col Dalbir Singh, who was awarded the commendation card for his bravery in the Kargil conflict, passed away here this morning. He was suffering from bone cancer. He is a nephew of Dr M.S. Malik, former DGP, Haryana.

The Jat Sabha, Chandigarh, mourned the death of the brave soldier. Lt-Col Dalbir Singh was commissioned in 1983 into 8 Sikh Regiment. 



Fire in AC plant of RLA office
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 1
Within the two days of the launch of the newly renovated Registration and Licensing Authority (RLA) office, a short-circuit in the airconditioned plant caused a minor fire here today. A fire tender from the Sector 17 fire station had to be requisitioned to control the fire.

As a result, the airconditioned plant had to be shut down. Enquiries revealed that ever since the plant is made operational, there has been a problem with its functioning.

The renovation work has been executed by the Engineering Department of the Chandigarh Administration. 



Theft at IAS officer’s house
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 1
Gold ornaments worth about Rs 70,000 were stolen from the house of an IAS officer in Sector 16 here.

According to the police, the wife of Mr D.D. Gautam, an IAS officer posted in Haryana, lodged a complaint that ornaments worth about Rs 70,000 were stolen from her house about three-four days ago. The complaint was lodged yesterday, following which a case of theft was registered.

Vehicle stolen

Mr Ashok Kumar of Sector 21, Panchkula, has reported to the police that his Maruti car was stolen from the Sector 26 market on Tuesday. In another incident, Mr Naveen Gupta of Sector 34 lodged a complaint that his Hero Honda motorcycle was stolen from his house on the night of October 30.

Two cases of theft have been registered.


Gurcharan Kaur of Baterla village sustained injuries after being hit by a motorcycle near Sector 42 here on Tuesday. She has been admitted to the PGI. The police has arrested the motorcyclist, Shivam Gupta. He was later released on bail. 



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