C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S

Ball in your court, Yash Chopra tells Admn
Seeks time-bound film city plan
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15
Renowned film-maker Yash Chopra today made it clear to the UT Administration that he would guide the film city project only if there was enough political will to see it through. Passion, he said, was the most essential ingredient for the success of such a project and the government must not make false promises.

Here to chair the first meeting of the Chandigarh Tourism Advisory Forum (CTAF) which recommended a school of acting and an international film festival to promote tourism in the city, Chopra asked the UT Administration to announce a time-bound plan for the film city project. With Anupam Kher supporting him, Chopra said he would not attend the next meeting if concrete steps were not taken to push the proposals discussed in today’s meeting.

He was speaking with reference to a film city proposal made way back in 1992 by then Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh. “Fourteen years have passed since promises were made, but no results were delivered,” said Chopra, who asked the UT Administration to show results by January 1, 2007.

He also suggested the UT Administrator and Punjab Governor Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd) to get the film city project going by 2008. The Governor, sources said, favoured 2009 for the launch so that infrastructural facilities could be put in place.

While that happened, members of CTAF, including Neelam Mansingh, Jaspal Bhatti, Rabi Balbir, Kamal Tiwari, Dr R. Kumar, Shastri Ramachandran, J.S. Bir and others, agreed upon the school of acting project, which they said could be made functional in any of the defunct government buildings. Mr Vivek Atray, member secretary of the forum, took note of all the proposals.

Members were also unanimous in their view that the Administration must put all its resources together to make the film city a success. References were made to projects like the National School of Drama and the Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal, which could not have been possible, but for the vision of some government functionaries. In Chandigarh, members said the school should be set up using local talent.

Interestingly, Anupam Kher had brought with him the syllabi of the acting school he ran in Mumbai, while Rani Balbir handed over to Yash Chopra her proposal for an acting school in Chandigarh. Here too, Chopra said government support was critical.

Praising the Punjabi spirit of enterprise and the area’s vast potential, he told the UT Administration to maximise tourism opportunities. “This region is so green and rich. You cannot imagine such spaces in Mumbai. So instead of dreaming of creating an industry, you should strengthen institutions that will facilitate the achievement of the larger goal,” said Chopra.

He also shared with the members his Dubai experience: “Dubai has no talent, but it has money and the mind to put money to use. It is already holding an international film festival for tourism promotion.”

Chopra had been helping the Dubai government in setting up a state-of-the-art film school. Taking the discussion forward, Chopra also referred to the zeal of the Goa Chief Minister, who had made his state the hottest international film festival destination.

“If Goa can do it, why cannot Chandigarh and Punjab, which have so much talent?” asked the film-maker, who was assured of all help by the Administration. The next meeting of CTAF was expected to be held after about six months.



MC poll likely on Dec 20
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15
The municipal corporation elections are expected to be held on December 20. State election commissioner S.P. Marwah, coming tomorrow, is likely to announce the date on November 17.

The code of conduct is expected to be in place after the announcement of the notification. The nominations procedure is expected to begin on November 28.



17 rescued from de-addiction centre
Our Correspondent

Mohali, November 15
As many as 17 inmates of the Sudhar Foundation, a drug de-addiction centre in Phase V, who were allegedly given inhuman treatment, were rescued by the police here today.

Seven drug addicts managed to escape from the de-addiction centre in the morning who then informed the police and parents about the activities going on at the centre.

The police raided the centre along with the tehsildar. A team of doctors from the Civil Hospital also reached the centre and examined some drug addicts Jaspal Singh, a physically handicapped inmate, alleged that they were often beaten up and also made to do various types of work, including washing of clothes.

When a person went off to sleep, he was made to get up and mop the floor. Injury marks could be seen on the right arm of Jaspal Singh.

Vijay Kumar alleged that the inmates were not given any medicines even though the doctor visiting the centre prescribed those. They were not allowed to meet members of their family and were allegedly tortured physically as well as mentally.

Ms Amarjit Kaur, who had come to take back her son from the centre, alleged that her son was bleeding from the mouth today and also started crying when he saw her.

She said her son had come to the centre about two months ago and she had paid about Rs 10,000 to the centre for taking care of her son.

Dr Surinder Bhagat said that a medical examination of all the inmates would be done, after which they would be given the required treatment. Later, they would be sent to a drug de-addiction centre being run by the District Red Cross Society. He said the foundation centre was more of a torture centre rather than being a rehabilitation centre.

However, Mr Varinderjeet Singh, who was running the centre, said allegations being levelled were all baseless. He said that parents who were fed up of their drug addict children left them here. He claimed that some inmates were being given free treatment though others were being charged. 



Immigration: no shortcuts, beware!
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15
A team from the Canadian High Commission, New Delhi, today visited the economic offences wing (EOW) of the Chandigarh police to discuss the growing number of cases of immigration fraud committed by travel agents in the region.

The visitors expressed concern over the large number of gullible youngsters being duped of lakhs by travel agents on false promises of getting immigration for clients.

The team, comprising Ms Trudy Kernighan, minister councillor (immigration), Mr Brian Hudson, councillor immigration, and Ms Donna M. Capper, consul, Consulate-General of Canada, Chandigarh, met the Deputy Superintendent of Police (EOW), Mr Inderjit Singh, and sought his cooperation in curbing the menace.

They also reportedly asked the police to spread awareness among the people not to fall prey to travel agents.

They asserted that no travel agent could help candidates in getting visas and immigration to Canada. They made it clear that candidates should apply directly.

They asked the police to encourage and coax people to come out with complaints against travel agents. They told the DSP that people duped by travel agents flooded the Canadian High Commission every day and the number was on the rise.

They maintained that they could not do much in such cases as the action was supposed to be taken by the local police. They said it was the police action which would prevent travel agents from duping gullible people wishing to go abroad. They asked the police to encourage people to name the travel agents who were involved in such activities.

Mr Inderjit Singh, said the team met him to discuss the issue. He, however, maintained that most such cases were reported from Punjab and rural areas of Haryana and no such organised racket of travel agents operated from Chandigarh.

“As most cases pertain to Punjab, the people duped by travel agents approached the High Commission. They in turn contact the local police to look into the matter. I have told them to contact the district head of police, where the candidates were duped”, said the DSP.

He added that 25 cases of immigration-related fraud had been under investigation with his wing this year so far. He maintained that these cases pertained to individual persons, who assured the candidates that they could arrange visas and work permits for their clients, but they were not full-fledged travel agents.



Canada is averse to applicants hiring immigration consultants
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15
Concerned over the growing nexus of alleged immigration consultants, the Government of Canada is averse to applicants hiring the services of consultants to assist them with their visa applications.

“If an applicant chooses to hire a representative, the application will not be given special attention nor will it receive faster processing or a more favorable outcome,” stated Ms Trudy Kernighan, Ministre-Conseiller and Mr Brian Hudson, Conseiller (Immigration) while addressing a press conference in the city today.

More than 1,80,000 foreign students come to study in Canada every year. “Indian students are being more discerning in their choices and this is reflected in the approval rates which stands at 85 per cent for those destined to Canadian universities,” stated Mr Hudson. It is the undergraduate studies that were more prominent in the country, the officials informed. There have also been relaxations in laws, allowing students an opportunity to work.

“The Canadian Government treats everyone equally. In fact in our system it is actually illegal for an individual to use unauthorised consultant under the Immigration Refugee Protection Act,” they added.

Only authorised consultants should be contacted. An authorised consultant will be able to give a client his membership number issued by the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants.

“We are concerned that so many of our clients are paying for poor and at times unlawful services from immigration consultants,” they stated.

Ms Kernighan said that the Canadian High Commission was penalising the client in the form of refusal if some fraud in the form of forged documents or misrepresentation of facts was detected in their application.

“The commission is refusing visas to about 20 persons each from its Chandigarh and New Delhi office in a week,” she said, adding that the commission was encouraging people to register complaints against consultants with the police.

On the issue of “marriage of fraud” where a person enters into matrimonial alliance with a girl in India as well as with another in Canada, she said that the commission had around 3000 applications with it having good reasons to investigate on the issue.

The officials also asked the applicants to be careful with offers of Canadian visas on the Internet. “All forms and information needed for immigration to Canada are available free of charge on the website www.cic.gc.ca,” stated Mr Hudson

Talking about working in Canada the officials informed that there had been a gradual shift from traditional professional occupations to skilled trades and lower skilled occupations. He said that there was dire need of farmers in Canada. For a farmer keen to immigrate to Canada research was important in the intended occupation, he, however, said. He said 750 applications from farmers seeking visas were pending with the commission. “Majority of these applications are from Punjab and Haryana,” he added. Canada grants 90,000 tourists visas globally every year, while 30,000 immigration visas were issued in a single year.



Sports council seeks freezing of PCA accounts
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 15
Taking its fight to get the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) evicted from the PCA Stadium a step further, the Punjab State Sports Council (PSSC) moved yet another application in the court of the Sub-divisional Magistrate here today. Plea for sealing the accounts of the PCA has been made in the new application.

After seeking the eviction of the PCA from the land on which it had built a sprawling cricket stadium, the council , the provocation for moving the new petition, sources said, has apprehension that the PCA may misappropriate its funds.

Dr Surya Parkash, counsel for the PSSC, stated in the new application before the SDM here that the PCA officials were bent upon misappropriating money from its accounts.

As the money earned from the land use is public money, the PCA has no right and authority to use it or misappropriate the same.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) also filed a reply to the eviction notice of the Punjab State Sports Council (PSSC) and sought its rejection on the ground of non-maintainability, before the SDM here.

On October 31, the PSSC had moved an application for the eviction of the PCA from 15.35 acres of Phase IX land under the Punjab Public Premises and Land (Eviction and Rent Act, 1973), on which the PCA has built a sprawling stadium. The council has alleged that the land of the PCA Stadium, Mohali, belongs to it and that the PCA allegedly grabbed it.

Besides, the council is also seeking recovery of Rs150 crore as use and occupation charges, which this land has yielded as income during the unauthorised possession from 1992 till the filing of the application and Rs 50 crore as damages and an interest of 18 per cent p.a. from the date of filing the application through the court.

The court had directed the PCA to file its reply on or before November 15.

In its reply, the PCA contended that a registered lease deed was executed in favour of the association in 1992 and it was valid till June 15, 2091 (for a period of 99 years). As the lease money up to the year 2007 stands deposited with the PSSC, therefore, the association has been in authorised possession of the premises as a lessee.

As the period of 99 years has not expired and the lease deed has not been declared void or illegal by any competent court so the application by the PSSC was not maintainable.

The PCA also mentioned that the court of the SDM had no jurisdiction to decide the dispute, raised in the petition.

The court has set November 23 as the next date for hearing.

Earlier, Punjab Sports Department Director Pargat Singh had said that the land in question belonged to the government and hence the department was right in seeking its possession.



Watch out

Renowned artist Prabal Pramanik is getting ready to showcase a documentary on ‘The Seasons of Bhamlada’ on the little picturesque village 40 km from Pathankot, where he recently opened an academy of arts. For a man who ran away from home in Kolkata to pursue his artistic dreams with nothing but his skill, he has been a driving force in the preservation and growth of a hitherto dying art form of paper-cutting animation. Pramanik has now reintroduced this rare form in the sphere of modern cinematography.

Pramanik has had his work exhibited at many prestigious institutions all over the world and his academy is teaching students not only the art of drawing and paper cutting, but is also incorporating new streams like textile designing and bringing in multi-media techniques to bring art awareness in his region.



In Town

MK S.K. Jain, managing director of Jaaydad.com, a real estate marketing network, will be in town on Thursday. He will be sharing the concept of his online marketing network in the real estate market in India. Jaaydad.com claims to have set a benchmark of service, quality and reliability in real estate marketing space in the country.



Passing Through

Harvinder Singh
Harvinder Singh, 
Australia-based broadcast journalist

What sort of a relationship does the Australian Government share with immigrants?

Australia is opening up like never before. Things have changed tremendously since I immigrated to Australia. Now the government is much more sensitive towards the people of other cultures and it wants to project a pro-immigrant image.

How much do you think has the government succeeded?

It has succeeded fairly. In fact, I have been part of the Government of Australia’s advertisement campaign designed to attract immigrants. I and my son have been featured in an ad campaign, playing cricket. The message being sent out is that Australia welcomes multiculturalism.

How are you contributing to the cause of immigrants in Australia?

My initial days in Australia were not so peaceful, for the simple reason that racism existed in some form or the other. Also, being a first-time immigrant, I was hit hard by the insensitivity of Punjabis towards their own culture. I took upon myself the task of making them proud of themselves all over again. I started a Punjabi TV channel, the first of its kind in Australia.

What is the objective of your broadcast channel and what is its reach?

Punjabi channel seeks to familiarise Punjabi immigrants settled in Australia with the greatness of their culture. It focuses on historical and cultural richness of Sikhism and of Punjab and puts immigrants of all generations in touch with their roots. Our programmes are telecast across Queensland and Victoria. We are based at Melbourne and plan to expand our activities to Perth.

What brings you to Chandigarh?

I am here on a purely personal visit. It is like a homecoming for me as I belong to the Doaba area, which is famous for a high rate of migration.

— Aditi Tandon



3-hour traffic chaos at bridge
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15
Scores of motorists were put to great hardship following a major traffic jam on the Chandigarh-Ambala highway as certain motorists, in an attempt of take their turn first, created a chaotic situation on the Ghaggar bridge at Bhankharpur village, near here, this evening.

The vehicular traffic on the highway, closed for heavy vehicles due to the maintenance work being carried out at the bridge, came to a stand still for over three hours. Scores of light vehicles and two-wheelers heading towards Chandigarh from Ambala and vice versa were lined along the road on either side of the bridge.

Worst affected were the patients heading to the PGI and the Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, who remained stranded for over two hours.

Interestingly, the police came to the rescue of the stranded and challaned the motorists who created the problem by throwing road rules to the winds. Teaching a lesson to the violators, the police made a separate row and challaned them for various offences.

Dr J.K. Suri, a commuter, appreciated the police action, though he remained stranded for over two hours. He added that at least the police action helped in easing the motorists. The vehicular traffic was restored at about 8.15 pm after the police intervened.



600 delegates for Rotary Institute 2006
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15
Over 600 delegates from Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Malaysia and India are converging at Chandigarh for three-day “Rotary Zone Institute 2006” scheduled to begin here from November 17. Rotary International World President William Bernard Boyd of New Zealand and his wife Lorna are also expected to attend the “Institute” at Hotel Taj.

Giving details of the event, Adviser-cum-Rotary International President 1991-92 Rajendra K Saboo says: Leaders from Rotary come together for continuing with the process of learning and interaction on policy issues, including the review of plans and programmes, during Rotary Institute held annually in different parts of South Asia.

Incidentally, Chandigarh produced the second Indian World President of Rotary - Mr Saboo. The city can now boast of an International Dolls Museum and the title of a “Rotary Peace City ”.

Other senior leaders scheduled to arrive for the Institute are: Director, Rotary International from Thailand-cum-Institute Convener Noraseth Pathmanand and his wife Chotima; Director, Rotary International from UK Anthony de St. Dalmas and wife Peggy; trustee, the Rotary Foundation, and Past Rotary International Director from the USA Ron Burton and wife Jetta; trustee, the Rotary Foundation and Past Vice-President of Rotary International Dr Robert S. Scott and wife Ann; along with trustee, the Rotary Foundation from Sri Lanka K.R. Ravindran and wife Vanathy.

Past Rotary International President, Mr Saboo, and wife Ms Usha will also be present in their official capacity as also in the role of the host. As Past President, Mr Saboo ranks third in Rotary after the Rotary International President and current Rotary International Directors. Incoming Director from Mumbai Ashok Mahajan and wife Nayantara are also scheduled to arrive for the Institute.

On November 17, the “Rotary Foundation Seminar”, along with the inaugural session and institute dinner will be held. The venue is Shivalik Public School auditorium, Mohali. The next day will see plenary sessions at the Taj, Chandigarh. A gala dinner is also being organised at the Rock Garden. On November 19, plenary and concluding sessions will take place at the Taj.



Fraud committed by PUDA: MLA
Our Correspondent

Mohali, November 15
The Kharar MLA, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, said here today that a fraud had been done with allottees of Sectors 76 and 80 by the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA), but they were burning his effigies.

He said PUDA had allotted plots in 2000 even when it did not have the possession of the land. Acquisition proceedings were also underway. He said the plots were allotted during the time of the previous government, which should be held responsible.

He said he felt hurt when his effigies were burnt because he had met the allottees in the Silvi Park here to listen to their grievances. He had taken up their case with the assurance committee.

He had tried to go deep into the matter and got to know that small stretches of land on which stay had been granted by a court lay scattered all over and as such, development work was not possible.

He said the matter was in court and he could not do anything in this regard now. The Supreme Court had reserved its decision in the matter. He said that if by burning his effigy, the allottees could get possession of their plots, he had no objection.



New CTU buses high on looks, low on safety
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15
While the new low floor buses of the Chandigarh Transport Undertaking offer more space and comfort to commuters, however, in case of an emergency these could become virtual trap-holes.

The rear windows are the emergency exit windows of the buses. From outside, the height of the emergency exit is over six-feet. That means in case of an emergency, when the doors of the bus can not be used, the passengers have to jump from a height of six-feet to save themselves. Jumping from such a height is not easy for children, ladies and old people.

The other flaw is that the exit window has been located on the floor under which the engine lies. If the bus topple to the left side, where both the doors are located, and the engine catches fire, the purpose of having an emergency window will be totally defeated.

According to motor vehicles rules dealing with the safety of passengers, the emergency door should be located just opposite the normal exit doors so that they could be opened or broken easily. In old buses too, the emergency doors are located just opposite the back door at the height of four feet.

A senior official of the CTU was of the view that the chances of the engine catching fire were very less as it had been coated with a fireproof substance. However, he admitted that it could happen. “The buses are ARAI certified, so the officials of the government body must have checked all the aspects before giving these buses clearance,”said the official.

On the other hand, most of the drivers and conductors alongwith the passengers also expressed the apprehension about the impracticality of the emergency windows of the new buses.

“This is a major cause of concern as the cases of buses catching fire are not uncommon. The emergency exit should be convenient and easy to get out in case of an emergency,” said Mr Madan Lal, a government employee, who uses the local bus service daily for going to office.



Mazdoor sabha to block traffic today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15
The All India Kisan Mazdoor Sabha today said that its activists would block traffic on all important routes tomorrow from 12 noon to 2 p.m. to press the government to release farmers who were lodged in various jails.

Mr Hardev Singh Sandhu, president of the sabha, today said farmers had been arrested after they protested against acquiring the agricultural land by the state government of certain farmers of Dhaula, Fatehgarh Chhanna and Sangera village for a private company.



Women helpline inaugurated
Our Correspondent

Mohali, November 15
Rahat, a women helpline, was inaugurated by Ms Jean Rodrigues, wife of Punjab Governor, at Civil Hospital here today.

The helpline will be run by members of the Indian Council of Social Welfare, Punjab.

Mrs Rodrigues said the helpline should prove to be a lifeline to women in trouble. The women councillors would have to put in a lot of effort to achieve the desired results.

Ms Rachna, Chairperson, Punjab State Advisory Board, said the Centre had given permission to run 14 such helplines in the state. Eight of them had been inaugurated so far and funds for the remaining four had also been received. She said 200 camps would be organised in the state for creating awareness about female foeticide.



Additional allocation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15
The Union Ministry of Finance has granted additional allocation of Rs 81 crore in the current financial year.

This means that the budget in the Planned expenditure has gone from Rs 216 crore to Rs 250 crore.

The decision was taken following a meeting held at Delhi on November 14. The ministry enhanced the Plan and non-Plan allocation of the city by Rs 34 crore and Rs 34 crore, respectively.

So far, an amount of Rs 216 crore had been provided to the UT under the plan expenditure. The additional allocation would mean more funds for development works.



Tribune Youth Club team

Chandigarh, November 15
The following have been elected office-bearers of the Tribune Youth Club.

President — Ajay Tayal; vice-president — Raman Sharma; general secretary — Ashok Yadav; secretary–– Deepak Thakur; joint secretary — Robin and Rinku; propaganda secretary –– Sonu Sharma; and sports secretary –– Vijay. — TNS



Window pane of car smashed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15
Miscreants smashed window pane of the car belonging to the general secretary of the Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee, Mr Sunil Parti, with an intension to steal, in the wee hours today.

According to Mr Parti, the matter came to light in the morning when he saw the rear window pane of his Santro Xing car (CH-03-N-8011) smashed with a brick. The brick was lying beside the car. However, nothing was found stolen from the vehicle.

The matter was reported to the police and a daily diary report was registered in the Sector 19 police station in this connection.

Car stereo stolen

Mr Rajan Vasdevan of the Modern Housing Complex, Mani Majra, lodged a complaint with the police, alleging that stereo was stolen from his car, parked at his residence on Monday night. In another incident, Mr Rajiv Kumar of Sector 37 reported to the police that the VCD-cum-MP3 player was stolen from his car parked at his residence on Monday night.

Two separate cases of theft have been registered in Mani Majra and Sector 39 police stations in this connection.

Booked for pasting poster

The police yesterday booked Sant Boot House in Sector 17 on the allegations of pasting poster in front of the shop. A case under Section 3 of the Prevention of Defacement of Property Act has been registered.

Liquor seized

The police yesterday arrested Balwinder Singh of Sheikhpura village in Patiala district on the allegations of carrying liquor illegally. The accused was stopped by the traffic police for verification of documents of his vehicle and the search of the vehicle led to the recovery of 48 bottles of various brands of whisky. A case has been registered.



Airline grounded much before take-off
Amrita Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15
The Indus Airways airlines seems to have been grounded much before its take off. Scheduled to start operations last week, the flight has yet to get clearances from the Director-General, Civil Aviations, and the Airport Authority of India.

The flight was scheduled to take off on November 11. However officials later delayed it by a week. Talking to TNS a senior official of the airlines said the delay now could be much longer than expected.

Senior officials now peg the launch at the end of this month. However with the winter season setting in, the future of the airlines seems to be a little foggy.

The airline had already acquired a 50-seater CRJ 200 aircraft for its launch and plans to add another to its fleet next week. The first aircraft is scheduled to fly on the Delhi-Chandigarh-Mumbai route while the second is expected to fly on the Delhi-Udaipur-Delhi route or to Hyderabad or Banagalore either from Chandigarh or Jaipur. Chandigarh will be the first city from where Indus Airways will start its operations. Initially direct flights to Jammu, Delhi and Bombay are planned.

Meanwhile, negotiations are going on to acquire 10 more aircraft, Boeing 737, 800/900. “Whenever they are procured the destinations will be finalised. Important cities and metros will be linked to Punjab,” stated a senior official.

Meanwhile, officials stated that the sale of tickets had now been stalled. According to officials around 15 tickets had already been sold for the inaugural flight, which had been postponed.

“Passengers who had purchased the tickets will be refunded and can also avail an offer of a complimentary ticket from our airline for the inconvenience caused to them,” stated Wing Commander Berri, a senior official of the airline.



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