C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


MC Poll
Political show-off marks last day for filing papers
Cong ‘rejects’ too come out with vigour
Tribune News Service

Four counting centres will be set up for the Municipal Corporation and Panchayat Samiti elections.

Three centres will be set up for the MC elections, while one will be set up for the Panchayat Samiti elections. The counting of votes will take place on December 22.

This was decided in a meeting held yesterday by the State Election Commissioner, Mr S.P. Marwaha.

He also directed the officials concerned to ensure that the polling stations were repaired and should not have broken windows, doors etc. 

Chandigarh, December 1
As many as 163 nominations were filed today for the elections to the 26 wards of the Municipal Corporation. Today was the last day for filing nominations and it saw the final tally touching 228.

The day witnessed heavy and ostentatious political activity. The city streets were full of long cavalcades of cars and bikes as the candidates came to file their nominations.

The candidates covered an otherwise 10-minute journey in three to four hours as they drove along with their supporters, many of which were busy garlanding their candidate and dancing to the beat of ‘dhol’.

The maximum number of nominations have been filed from the Ward No-23. As many as 25 candidates have filed their nominations from this ward.

Meanwhile, the least number of nominations were filed from ward nos 3, 15 and 16. Also, most of the nominations filed were those of the covering candidates, many of whom were expected to withdraw them.

The nominations will be scrutinised tomorrow. The last date for the withdrawal of nominations is December 5.

Mrs Shyama Negi, Senior Deputy Mayor, who was denied a ticket by the Congress, has filed her nomination as an independent candidate from Ward No-10.

Mr Sohan Lal Vaid, who was also denied a ticket by the Congress, has interestingly filed as the covering candidate for the Congress from Ward No-11.

Representing the Muslim community, Mr S.M. Khan, member, Chandigarh Territorial Congress, has filed his nominations as an independent candidate from Ward No- 24.

Anand Singh, district president, Youth Congress and Chairman, Market Committee, has filed as an independent candidate from Ward No-12 as he too was denied a ticket from the Congress. 

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MC POLL-06
Rebel candidates set to rock parties' boat
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
Rebel candidates are set to rock the boat of political parties in the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh (MCC) elections scheduled to be held on December 20.
With the last date for filing the nomination getting over today, political activity has hotted up and rebel candidates of three main contenders— the Congress, the BJP-SAD and the CVM— -may make the going tough for official candidates.

While the Congress rebels have come in the open by filing nomination papers as independent candidates, the candidates of its bete noire, the BJP-SAD alliance, have preferred to remain silent. However, resentment is brewing among the BJP party cadre as certain senior leaders, including a sitting councillor Rajesh Gupta, have been denied ticket.

"The denial of the tickets to the senior leaders could prove to be costly for the party in the elections which is already fighting with its back to the wall,” said a senior leader who was an aspirant for the party ticket.

Meanwhile, the BJP president Yashpal Mahajan today tried to "assuage" the feelings of the leaders denied tickets saying that they would be given position in the party organisation.

The Congress, on the other hand, is facing virtual open revolt from its senior leaders, including Senior Deputy Mayor Shyama Negi, Balraj Singh and SM Khan, who have filed their nominations as independent candidates. The colony cell of the CTCC is up in arms against the denial of three seats to it.

During the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, in which Pawan Bansal, Minister of for State for Finance, won by over 45,000 votes, the colonies had played a decisive part.

The Muslims are also miffed with the Congress for "inadequate" representation.

Even as the Congress and BJP-SAD leadership's worries continue, CVM chief Harmohan Dhawan announced today that the manch would support the SAD candidates, clearly an attempt to create a wedge between the BJP and SAD.

Sources said in the current political scenario the rebel candidates and influential leaders of the small parties would play a significant role in the run-up to the poll.

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CVM to go it alone
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
The Chandigarh Vikas Manch (CVM) today decided to go it alone in the forthcoming Municipal Corporation elections. The CVM will field 18 candidates. They filed their nominations today as ‘independent’ candidates.

Sitting councilor Vijay Rana will contest from ward 14, while Mr Jitender Bhatia will contest from ward 22. The CVM will, however, not be fielding any candidates from wards 2, 3, 4, 7, 9 and 18. Talking to TNS, the CVM President Harmohan Dhawan stated, “We are confident that we will have a majority in the elections. We will be releasing a detailed manifesto soon.”

In the wards where the CVM is not fielding a candidate, Mr Dhawan said his party would support the Shiromani Akali Dal. Interestingly, the CVM has changed its name to Chandigarh Vikas Party.

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‘Highway-in-my-veins’ protagonist comes calling
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News service

Akash Gulalia
Dr Akash Gulalia

Chandigarh, December 1
Consider this paradox. The first-ever HIV/AIDS prevention project launched in India sought to target the truck drivers travelling on Indian highways. Called Healthy Highways Project, it was launched in 1998. Yet, for all these years, HIV vulnerability of truckers did not become a matter of cinematic interpretation.

The jinx ended only recently, with a Delhi-based production house entering the dark world of Indian highways to profile truck drivers who fight formidable odds during their travels. For the first time in the history of AIDS struggle in India, such a film has been made possible.

Even while the film, already screened at Cannes, gets ready for a South Asia release tonight, few know who fed it with vital details. The film relies heavily on the expertise of Dr Akash Gulalia, a socio-behavioural expert with the HIV/AIDS Prevention Unit of the National Highways Authority of India. Part of the Healthy Highways Project, Dr Gulalia features in “Highway in my Veins” - a film whose broadcast rights have been bought by Discovery.

In Chandigarh today, Dr Gulalia shared the making of the historic documentary with The Tribune. To begin with, the film takes leads from Dr Gulalia’s PhD titled “High Risk Population and Vulnerability to HIV AIDS: A Study of Long Distance Truckers in Delhi”. The initial research happened in the two transport hubs where Dr Gulalia, a faculty of Delhi School of Social Work, now runs a major HIV/AIDS prevention project titled Sukhad Yatra.

“The theme developed in Sanjay Gandhi and Azadpur Transport Nagar areas -- the transport hubs of Delhi, where we work through the Delhi School of Social Work Society. Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar is visited by 5000 trucks daily while Azadpur Nagar gets about 1000 trucks daily. These areas present a mix of individuals - each one battling stigma and HIV at his own level. The filmmakers started from here and made several visits to our projects to create a research base,” says Dr Gulalia, who is one of the three protagonists of the film, the other two being truck drivers - Durga from Uttar Pradesh and Surinder from Delhi.

The film is unique as details real people and real lives. Dr Gulalia says, “The narration happens through voice-overs and through Durga and Surinder, who features as themselves. As the team travelled with truck drivers, it captured real days in their lives. It’s amazing how they go about their daily business - bribing officials, buying sex and exposing themselves to risk. The film is a sensitive portrayal of their fears and stigma.”

Also, it captures a hitherto ignored area. Although roads form a significant component of India’s transport economy, truckers remain neglected and stigmatised. Says Dr Gulalia, “The shipping sector transports limited cargo so does the airline sector. Yet the two professions are highly paid. The Railways which used to carry 70 per cent of goods at the time of Independence now don’t do that anymore. 

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World AIDS Day echoes with voices of concern, compassion
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
At the Dell International Services, the World AIDS Day was a day of action aimed at increasing awareness about the challenges and the prejudices associated with AIDS.
Employees at the Dell, Mohali, commemorated the day by organising a play and participating in a fund-raising campaign.

They organised a special sale to raise funds for Freedom Foundation, an NGO based in Bangalore, that supports HIV-positive children.

Theatre Age, a Chandigarh-based troupe, performed a play on AIDS awareness at the Dell centre.

At the Shastri Model School, Mohali, a painting competition was held and lectures were given by school teachers.

The winners of the competition included Harsimran Kaur Saini, Shivani and Manpreet Singh.

A blood-donation camp was organised by Shaheed Udham Singh Youth Club, Khuda Jassu village. The camp was inaugurated by Dr G.S. Bajwa, District Youth Coordinator, Nehru Yuva Kendra, Chandigarh.

A blood-donation camp was also organised at the Rayat and Bahra College of Education, Sahauran. A poster-making and slogan-writing competition was also held.

The winners included Jaspreet Mann, Seema Saini, Naina Sandhu, Shilpa Sharma, Babita, Sapna Goyal and Manvir Singh. Competitive events were organised at the Nav Jyoti Model High School, Mohali.

The winners include: Sharanjeet Kaur, Navneet Kaur, rashdeep Kaur, Jasprit Singh, Prashant Soni, Mandeep Kaur, Harpreet Kaur, Manjinder Singh, Shobha and Rubal Vashisht.

Dr S.P. Surilka, district Health Officer, Mohali, talked to the students of the Chandigarh Engineering College, Landran, exhorting them to be 
aware of the disease and spread awareness among others also.

Principal Bhupinder Singh released a newsletter on the World AIDS Day at the Government College of Commerce and Business Administration, Sector 19, Chandigarh.

The newsletter has been edited by Dr Rosy Walia, Prof Amarpreet Singh, Rahul Jindal, Sachin, Saurav Goyal, Raman Garg, Manjeet Kaur.

Inter-college competitions on awareness about AIDS and Environment were organised in the Shivalik Institute of Education and Research, Mohali. Dr Kanwarjeet Singh, DPI (Colleges), Punjab, was the chief guest.

To mark the celebration of World AIDS Day, the Red Ribbon Club of GGDSD College, Sector 32, organised a seminar and interactive session in the college today.

Dr Gurmeet Singh, a renowned medical practitioner, highlighted the need to mobilise a significant part of the society for this common fight.

This programme was a part of week-long celebration earlier during the week, two movies, 'Phir Milenge' and 'My Brother Nikhil', based on the issue, were screened for the students in the college.

Jan Shikshan Sansthan, Mohali organized an awareness programme for 300 students of various vocational courses (like Welding, Plumbing, Electrical Technician, Refrigeration and AC Mechanism) along with teachers participated. Mr. Dildar Khan, Director the Sansthan, emphasised the importance of the day.

Members of the Red Ribbon club of GCG-42 organised three thought-provoking plays which lucidly depicted the causes and the preventive measures of AIDS. Supriya Bhati, a volunteer of the club conducted the programme.

The NSS unit and Medical Committee of MCM DAV College organised an AIDS awareness programme in collaboration with Fortis Hospital, Mohali.

A team of doctors delivered informative lectures on various aspects pertaining to the HIV AIDS and the myths and misconceptions surrounding this deadly disease.

Students of Government High School, Dadumajra, today organised a rally to mark World AIDS Day and to create awareness among the villagers about the deadly disease.

Around 150 students of the school participated in the rally. Holding placards and banners in their hands, the students marched through the village.

Slogan-writing and poster-making competitions were also organised on the school premises in which students of classes VI to X took part. The winners were given prizes.

The Principal of the school, Ms Suman Malik, said the rally was organised by the Red Ribbon Club of the school in collaboration with the Nehru Yuva Kendra.

Meanwhile, the week-long programme on AIDS awareness campaign ended up with a rally taken out by students of Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 44, here today.

Students from Class IX to XII painted their faces with AIDS awareness slogans during the rally.

They carried placards in their hands to spread their message and distributed leaflets among residents of the sector.

The school’s Red Ribbon Club organised various activities in the programme. These included inter-house quiz contests on health, hygiene and HIV/AIDS.

Rahul stood first in an on-the-spot painting competition, while Ranjit Kaur and Sushil emerged winners in the essay-writing competition.

Apoorva emerged winner in the declamation contest held at DAV Model School, Sector 15-A. The contest was part of the NSS and Adolescence Education Programme (AEP) unit of school observing AIDS awareness week at the school.

Kavya and Sushmita secured second and third positions, respectively. Akash, Dhuruv and Sahil won first three positions in the quiz contest while Sapna, Nitayanshu and Alisha bagged the first three positions in the poster-making contest.

A play “YUVA”, directed by Hitender Kumar of Holy Theatre, was also presented in the school.

Dr Gandhi and Dr Jolly from the Adult Education Department, PU, were invited at the Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya-25 to deliver a lecture on awareness about AIDS.

The Red Ribbon Club and NSS volunteers of the GMSSS-23 school took out a rally in which around 200 students carrying placards and posters spread the AIDS awareness message.

As many as 350 students of Government High School, Raipur Khurd, participated in an AIDS awareness rally in which various contests in slogan-writing, paper-reading, poster-making etc. were held.

Many schools like Government Model High School, Sector 39, Government High School, Sector 30, Government Senior Secondary School, Sector 38 (West), Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 10, also observed World AIDS Day by organising rallies. 

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Thrown out of job, HIV positive man meets Rodrigues
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
A 50-year-old resident of Fatehgarh Sahib, who lost his job because of his HIV positive status a couple of years ago, today handed over his representation to the Punjab Governor and Administrator, Union Territory, Chandigarh, General S.F. Rodrigues (retd), on the World AIDS Day.

A hardware-manufacturing company at Rajpura had shown him doors just after a few months before his entitlement for pension when the management came to know that he had caught the infection.

He was assured that the matter would be looked into.

Meanwhile, sharing deep concern over the spread of HIV/AIDS in every part of the globe, the Punjab Governor and Administrator, Union Territory, Chandigarh, General S.F. Rodrigues (retd), underlined the need for adopting multi-prolonged supportive strategies, including preventive and cure with the focus on awareness and research to tackle this most-dreaded disease.

During his visit to the Community Care Centre of AIDS at Khuda Alisher, a part of the Union Territory, Gen Rodrigues, accompanied by Mrs Jean Rodrigues, met the patients there.

The DC and Chairman of UT Red Cross Society, Chandigarh, Mr R.K. Rao, and the Project Director, AIDS Control Society, UT, Dr Sonia Trikha, were also present. 

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Journalists take up cudgels against police brutality
Assault on photo-journalist
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
The journalist fraternity today sought an immediate transfer of the Senior Superintendent of Police, SAS Nagar, Mr Naunihal Singh, for his alleged complicity in the registration of a false case against the Hindustan Times photographer, Samuel, by the Kharar police on November 30.

An emergency meeting of journalists was called at the Chandigarh Press Club in this regard. The meeting was attended by a large number of journalists from the print and the electronic media.

In an unanimous resolution passed at the meeting, they demanded an immediate withdrawal of the false FIR registered against the photographer, the transfer of the SSP along with the transfer of DSP Rajjit Singh and the SHO, Kharar, Gurvinder Singh, and arrest and suspension of the police personnel who assaulted Samuel.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Vipin Pubby, Resident Editor, The Indian Express and Mr Kanwar Sandhu, Resident Editor, Hindustan Times, criticised Samuel’s thrashing by the police in strong words.

They were also of the view that a strong message needed to be sent to the government that assault on journalists would not be tolerated.

It was also decided that a delegation of senior journalists would meet the Punjab Chief Minister and the DGP to press their demands.

The journalists said if these demands were not met in the next 48 hours then the media would boycott all functions of the Punjab Police, the Punjab Government, and the CM’s Vikas Yatra. Meanwhile, the Chandigarh-Punjab Union of Journalists (CPUJ) also condemned the police’s high handedness.

The president of the union, Mr Vinod Kohli, warned that if an appropriate action was not taken against guilty policemen, the union would be compelled to take strong action.

Meanwhile, taking cognizance of the news reports in a section of the press about the manhandling of a staff photographer of the Hindustan Times, Samuel N. Dass, by a police constable at Kharar on Thursday, the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today strongly condemned the unfortunate incident and ordered a magisterial enquiry to probe the matter.

A spokesperson of the Punjab Government said Darshan Singh, SDM Kharar, had been directed to conduct an enquiry and submit the report within a week. The Chief Minister said nobody would be allowed to take law in their own hands and action would be taken against the guilty.

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Doubly stalked at AIDS centre
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
They hate his prying eyes. But they can’t do much to keep him away. For a month now, the women working at the AIDS Control Society’s drop-in centre in Sector 15 have been fighting a battle of a different kind — a stalker who just won’t budge.

It started a month ago when Dalip Kumar, a 50 plus watchman of International Boys Hostel where the drop-in centre is housed, started taking undue interest in the women working here. Earlier he just used to watch them coming in and going out.

But slowly, things got serious. He started dropping into the office and making vague, lewd comments to Neetu and Pooja — two of the five staff members at the Centre. When they snubbed him, he planned a serious onslaught on their dignities.

For them, it is a double whammy — they are already fighting HIV, and now they are facing a hopeless stalker.

Matters got worse at 11 a.m. on November 23 when Pooja, President of the Chandigarh Network of people Living with HIV/AIDS, Neetu and Centre in charge Nawendu Jha were going about their routine. Drunk as usual, Dalip Kumar entered the office and asked the staff to conduct an HIV test on him.

“He was up to some mischief. I told him we don’t conduct HIV tests at the centre. We are only a counselling service. But he did not budge. On top of that, he told me if I can’t test him for HIV, the girls will,” said Mr Jha.

And then what happened was something everyone is ashamed to recall.

Dalip Kumar unzipped himself, made obscene gestures at the girls and insisted that he be tested. He did other things which the girls are at loss to recall.

But they did not lose time in complaining to the warden of the Hostel, Mr K.S. Sahi, who forwarded the matter to the Principal of the Government College of Art, Sector 10, under whom the hostel falls. Principal Brahm Prakash confirmed the development to Chandigarh Tribune and said the Sexual Harassment Committee of the college was inquiring the matter and would send the report to the UT Administration. The final decision would be taken by UT Home Secretary.

Until then, the Principal has banned the watchman’s entry into the hostel complex. It is another matter that he was spotted in the area yesterday as well as today. Neetu and Pooja are naturally under the grip of fear because of the watchman’s history of deviant behaviour. Pooja says, “Once he stopped me from entering the office and demanded that I show him my duty chart because he was in charge of hostel security. He is almost always drunk on duty and he is very obscene.”

Pooja has given her statement to the Head of Art College’s Sexual Harassment Committee Alka Jain, who along with other members visited the drop-in centre on November 28 to ask the staff what action they wanted against the accused. Incidentally, the members told the staff that Dalip Kumar had lost both his eyes in an accident in a chemical factory where he was working. He is now living on borrowed eyes.

Although Pooja, on compassionate grounds, told the members that she would be happy with the transfer of the watchman, she feels she made a mistake. “He is still stalking us. We should have pressed for his termination.”

But even termination cannot guarantee safety to the girls, who are always on guard.

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Plea against villages’ merger dismissed
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 1
A Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today dismissed the petitions filed by Mr Hardip Singh and others challenging the merger of five villages into the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh (MC).

The Division Bench comprising Mr Justice Jasbir Singh and Mr Justice Pritam Pal also dismissed the plea of the petitioners against the delimitation process for the ensuing MC elections.

The petitioners, all residents the villages Maloya, Dadu Majra and Hallomajra, had prayed that the notification dated September 19 issued by the UT Administration be set aside as the merger did not fulfill the mandatory requirement of consultation and eliciting views of the villagers. They had also stated that the areas which have been merged were not urban areas as applicable to Chandigarh, a requirement for it to be declared as an urban area.

The petitioner had stated that for a rural area having a gram panchayat to be included into a municipality, it has to be first declared an urban area under the Municipal Corporation Act, which has not been done. In this case, even the notification had been issued with a predetermined mind and the objections have been invited just as a formality because the Administrator had already declared the merger of the villages on August 15, 2006, and the draft notification has been issued on August 17, 2006.

The petitioner had also challenged the process of delimitation of wards comprising their villages. They had stated that the parameter of equal distribution of population had not been adhered to as some wards had a much higher number of voters compared to some others.

With the court upholding the UT Administration's decision to a merge five villages into the MC, it is expected that the merger of some other villages would be done after the MC elections.

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Ghaggar Bridge closed for traffic today
Tribune News Service

Dera Bassi, December 1
The Ghaggar bridge at Bhankharpur village, near here, on the Chandigarh-Ambala highway will remain closed for all kinds of traffic from 11 am to 4 pm tomorrow.
According to Lieut-Col K.P. Sharma, Project Director of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), the bridge is being closed for traffic to carry out repair work.

The spans of the bridge, which has outlived its utility, are needed to be lifted up with the help of jacks. The bridge would be closed to traffic on the days repair work would be undertaken, sources added.

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Watch out

Professor Manju Jaidka of the Department of English, Panjab University, is on a 10-day residency at Oxford, UK, on an invitation from the university. She will make a presentation at the Fellows’ seminar.

Prof Jaidka has also been invited to deliver lectures at the Universities of Birmingham and Essex. In addition, she will participate at the Beckett centenary conference being held at Northampton.

A former recipient of the prestigious postdoctoral Fulbright grant, two Rockefeller awards and a Salzburg fellowship, Prof Jaidka is the chief functionary of an academic association that organises an international conference annually.

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In Town

Mr Eric F. Ch. Niehe, Ambassador of The Netherlands, will be in town on Saturday to participate in Agro Tech 2006. He will be releasing Rabobank agri sector reports at the agri fair being held at the Parade Ground, Sector 17. Mr Fergus Murphy, Regional Head, Rabobank International, will also be present on the occasion. The Netherlands is the partner country for the Agro Tech 2006. 

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Passing Through

Pradnya Gadre
Maharashtra’s Pradnya Gadre, junior national gold medallist 
(U-10) in badminton 

Q What brings you to the city?

Ans I am here for the second time to participate in XXXI Junior Inter-state and National Badminton Championship being held at Panchkula. I paid my first visit two years ago while representing Maharashtra at a national-level badminton event.

Q How do you feel about the city?

Ans It is a great experience to be in the City Beautiful. The weather is pleasant and one does not get tired easily. There are many places to visit like Rock Garden and Sukhna Lake. The people are humble and warm.

Q Do you think badminton has a future in India?

Ans In the recent years, there has been an overwhelming performance by the Indian badminton players. The game is attracting a large number of students who want to take it up at the professional level. The performance of Saina Nehwal at the World Junior Badminton Championship this year is a notable example. Saina has become a role model for the junior badminton players like me.

— Jyotika Sood

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Library in upcoming Beant
Memorial to be functional soon
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
The library in the upcoming Beant Singh Memorial in Phase I will be made functional "very shortly" much before the entire structure is complete. A decision in this regard has been taken by the Beant Singh Memorial Society which met under the chairmanship of Mr Lalit Sharma, Adviser to the UT Administrator, recently.

Members of the society who attended the meeting included Mr Krishna Mohan, Home Secretary of UT, Mr Suresh Kumar, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister of Punjab, Mr D.S.Jaspal, Principal Secretary of the Information and Public Relations, Mr N.S.Kang, Secretary, Ms Sunita Monga, Chief Architect of UT, Mr V.K.Bhardwaj, Chief Engineer and Mr Vivek Atray, Director Public Relations.

The development is important in the context that the space has not been utilised for any constructive purpose for more than a decade after the work began. Reliable sources said that the library is likely to be made operational after the Punjab Assembly elections in March 2007.

An official note pointed out that the memorial "was initiated in the year 1996 and till date the project has not been operationalised due to financial constraints and other reasons". It has been pointed out that since one library building has been constructed, its utilisation should be started.

It has also been pointed out that "with Chandigarh having been the site of many an institution which have shifted from Lahore after Independence, including Panjab University, Punjab Engineering College and Museum and Art Gallery, it will be appropriate in case the library building focuses history of Punjab".

It has been pointed out that no library which specialises in the subject of history of Punjab existed, except for one at Lahore. The memorial in name of the former Chief Minister of Punjab, who was assassinated in 1995, will make an attempt in this direction.

An action plan is being drafted to acquire books, material and related documents from different organisations, including libraries, universities and departments all over the country. The Chandigarh Administration has offered to fund the initial expenses of setting up the library and also its maintenance. The operations later on will be jointly managed by the governments of Punjab and the UT Administration.

An area span of 1.59 acres adjoining the ‘samadhi’ will be developed as a park in memory of the former CM.

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Hoardings on highway make mockery of law
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Dera Bassi, December 1
Evading tax and flouting norms, scores of hoardings of liquor brands, telecommunication companies and housing colonies have come up in last couple of months on the toll plaza of the railway-over-bridge (RoB) on the 'killer' Kalka-Ambala highway at Bhankharpur village near here.

Prohibited by the Punjab excise policy, the advertisements have not only been erected on the Toll Plaza but have come up at various places along the busy highway in violation of the Punjab and Haryana High Court directives.

Huge hoardings have been dotting a majority of buildings along the highway right from the inter-state border on the Chandigarh-Zirakpur road till Lalru, at Ambala barrier.

Intriguingly, a liquor manufacturing company has displayed a huge hoarding of its brand on the Toll Plaza without mentioning the product's name. The hoardings have been put up by the companies by making huge payments to the contractor of the Toll Plaza being running by M/S RS Infrastructure Pvt Ltd on built operate and transfer (BoT) basis.

The hoardings have been proving fatal for road users. The Punjab and Haryana High Court's directions for removal of the hoardings, banners and signboards have been virtually thrown to winds by violators along the Kalka-Ambala and Panchkula-Rajpura highways.

Sukhwinder Singh Sandhu, executive officer of the Dera Bassi municipal council, said M/S RS Infrastructure had been evading taxes payable for the display of the hoardings on the RoB. The council had issued many notices to the company but to no avail.

Sarabjit Kaur, excise inspector of the area, expressed her ignorance about the display of such hoardings at the Toll Plaza and along the highway.

Arashdeep Singh, sub divisional engineer, Building and Roads Wing of the Punjab Public Works Department, claimed that the highway had been transferred to the National Highway Authorities.

Neither Narinder Sharma, president of Zirakpur nagar panchayat, nor Girish Verma, executive officer, were available for comment on the display of hoardings along the highways within the limits of civic body. Efforts to contact Jagdeep Singh, managing director of M/S RS Infrastructure, also proved futile. 

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SAD (Longowal) to hold rally on Dec 14
Our Correspondent

Mohali, December 1
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Longowal) will organise a rally in Chandigarh on December 14 to celebrate the 86th foundation day of the Shiromani Akali Dal. This was stated by Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra, president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Longowal), at a press conference here yesterday. He said as such the conference that had been planned for December 7 would now not be held. He said that the responsibilities of the Shiromani Akali Dal towards the Panth, Punjab and the people would be highlighted.

He said that his party would never have a poll alliance with the SAD (Badal), the BJP or even with the Congress in the coming assembly elections in the state. He said that efforts were being made to gather all parties who worked for the welfare of the people on a common platform.

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2 new substations to solve power crisis of 19 villages
Our Correspondent

Mohali, December 1
The foundation stones of two 66 KV grid substations were laid by the Deputy Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, at Teur and Khizrabad villages today.
As per instructions of the Punjab State Electricity Board, urban supply to Teur and Khizrabad villages will be provided from these substations through category-I feeders. The land for these substations was given free of cost by the panchayats of both these villages.

Ms Bhattal said Punjab was the first state to provide 24 hours power supply to all its 13,123 villages on UPS. Uninterrupted eight-hour supply was provided every day for running tubewells even when the board had to purchase power at much higher rates from outside sources. To improve the quality of power supply and minimise interruptions , 289 substations had been set up at a cost of Rs 600 crore during 2002–06 and another 100 grid substations had been planned during the current financial year at a cost of Rs 400 crore.

Giving details about the new substations, J.S.Sekhon, Member, Distribution, said these would have an installed capacity of 66/11 KV and 12.5 MVA each. The substation at Teur would be constructed at a cost of about Rs 3.92 crore, including, laying of 14 km of transmission line from 132 KV substation Kharar with S/C on D/C towers. The substation at Khizrabad would, however, be constructed at a cost of Rs 5.34 crore, including, laying of 10 km of transmission line from 66 KV sub station Kurali with S/C on D/C towers.

With the commissioning of these substations, 19 villages would be directly fed power from these. These villages were earlier facing acute voltage problem and frequent interruptions due to overloading. The problem of overloading of 132 KV sub station , Kharar, and 66 KV sub station at Majra, Kurali, and Purkhali would now be sorted out. 

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Vice-President’s arrival clogs city roads
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
Chaos ruled city roads today due to the arrival of Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat to inaugurate Agrotech -2006 at Parade Ground, Sector 17, here.
All the roads leading to Sector 17 witnessed huge traffic jams as traffic cops stopped the flow of traffic to make undisruptive way for the VVIP.

The most affected were school children, who were stuck in the jam for more than an hour, while going home in the afternoon.

However, the traffic police claimed that they had made full arrangements for the free flow of traffic tomorrow. "Despite the movement of the VVIP, there will be no inconvenience to the public tomorrow,” said Dinesh Bhatt, SP, Traffic, Chandigarh.

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Performance review found satisfactory
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
The half-yearly performance review of Chandigarh was found to be satisfactory at a meeting held at the UT State Guest House here today. It was chaired by Senior Adviser, (State Plan) Planning Commission, Ms Manjulika Gautam.

The progress of Plan expenditure up to September, 2006, was reviewed with reference to the expenditure incurred during the corresponding period last year. The plan expenditure upto September, 2006, is Rs 117.05 crore against the approved outlay of Rs. 216.66 crore which comes to 54 per cent against 38 per cent in the corresponding period last year.

Mr S.K Sandhu, the Finance Secretary, made a presentation about the new upcoming projects and the financial position of UT. Commissioner Municipal Corporation, Mr P.S. Aujla, and various heads of the departments.

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Warm clothes given to poor children at Strawberry Fields
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
Strawberry Fields World School celebrated their annual day today with the exhibition 'Magic Fingers', a display of their children's recent learning. The exhibition was inaugurated by Mrs Jean Rodrigues, who distributed warm clothing to underprivileged children being supported by the Durga Das Foundation at Strawberry Fields.

Each class had adopted a theme from their curriculum and each section elaborated on a particular area of that theme.

In keeping with the ideal of 'We do so we learn!' all models, charts and mobiles on display, were painstakingly prepared by the children themselves.

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Woollens given to kusht ashram inmates

Dera Bassi, December 1
The local unit of the Chandigarh-Punjab Union of Journalists distributed woollens among the inmates of a ‘kusht ashram’ at Mubarakpur, near here yesterday.

Prominent among those present on the occasion were Ms Anita Mittal, Mr Sarbjit Singh Bhatti, Mr Surinder Singh, Mr Harjit Singh Lucky, Mr Gurpreet Singh Babbu, Mr Rakhwinder Singh, Mr Anil Sharma, Mr Krishan Garg, Mr Ashwani Sharma, Mr Iqbal Singh, Mr Sunil Bhatti and Mr Gurmeet Singh. TNS

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Man posing as Food Inspector held
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
An man posing as a Food and Supplies Inspector was arrested by the Chandigarh police today from Hallo Majra on a complaint of Mr Sushil Kumar Gupta, Inspector, Food and Supplies, UT, Chandigarh.

On enquiry it came out that Sukhdev Singh Gill a resident of Kajheri village, Sector 53, Chandigarh, was making fake ration cards at Government High School, Hallo Majra by charging Rs 500 from the villagers.

Doubting the activities of the impersonator, the villagers Shiv Kumar Nishad and Tejinder Singh complained to Mr Krishan Sarup Sharma, superintendent of the office of the District Food and Supplies and Consumer Affairs Officer, who directed Mr Gupta to look into the matter.

After investigation, Mr Gupta found the complaint true and informed the police about the matter.

The police took the impersonator to Sector 31 police station and registered a case against him under Sections 419 and 420.

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Duo booked for killing pet dog
Tribune News Service

Lalru, December 1
The local police today booked two persons on a charge of killing a pet dog in Alamgir village.
Acting on the complaint of Mr Jaswant Singh, a resident of Alamgir village,the police registered a case against Nirmail Singh and Jasbir Singh.

The complainant alleged that the duo killed his pet dog by hitting it with a stick. A case has been registered.

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MC chief’s husband booked for abusing journalist
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 1
The police today registered a case under Sections 504 and 506 of the IPC against Kulwant Gill, husband of Municipal Council chief, Ms Manveer Gill, for threatening and abusing Mr Surinder Bhatia, a journalist with a vernacular daily.

Yesterday, a delegation of reporters met the SP and DC and sought registration of a case against the Gill. Meanwhile, a number of organisations condemned the attack on Bhatia.

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Shekhawat for new farm technology
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
The Vice-President, Mr Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, has underlined the need for bringing new technology and infrastructure, to release the inherent growth potential in the agricultural sector.

The Vice President was here to inaugurate Agro-Tech-2006 Fair. Addressing delegates participating in the mega event, he cautioned that the upgradation of technology was the only way for India to remain in competition with other countries. “In the present global business environment, commitment to quality and competitiveness has become a hallmark for progress,” he added.

Mr Shekhawat called upon the industry to come forward and invest in the agro-technology sector and urged the industrial houses to adopt a few villages each and contribute significantly in improving the rural infrastructure and building support systems to provide market information and market networks, besides benefiting producers immensely. In the process, we can help our small and marginal farmers lead a life of dignity and honour, he said.

The Vice President said to rejuvenate agriculture, importance of appropriate applications of science and technology cannot be ignored. “Developing new technologies, taking advantage of unprecedented developments in science and technology especially in biotechnology and information technology, are matters of urgent action.

Information technology has the potential to provide need-based and locale-specific information to farmers in areas such as agricultural product management, proceedings, marketing and natural wealth management. This new technology can become the flagship of the rural knowledge revolution,” he said.

He noted that the government had taken various initiatives to promote investments in Indian agriculture. These include rural infrastructure development project called "Bharat Nirman", backward and forward linkages; stepping up credit flow to farmers which include priority sector lending to agriculture and Kisan credit cards for farmers etc. An integrated food law is being formulated to bring convergence in laws dealing with food, to promote food processing industry in the country.

General S.F. Rodrigues(retd), Governor Punjab and Administrator Chandigarh Administration, outlined the huge potential and requirements in the agriculture sector of the region, particularly Punjab.

He emphasised upon adopting holistic concept for the development of technology for the agriculture sector in accordance with the requirements of the region.

Mr R Seshasayee, President Confederation of Indian Industry highlighted the need of productivity and dimensional technology to protect the agricultural environment. He also stressed upon adopting a model of sustainable agricultural growth. Mr Eric F Ch Niech. Ambassador of The Netherlands, expressed willingness on behalf of his country to help Indian farmers through sharing technology to develop advanced eropping system, floriculture, fisheries etc.

Mr Ajay S Shriram, Chairman, Agro-Tech 2006; Mr Fergus Murphy, regional head, Asia Rabobank International; and, Mr Adesh Gupta, Chairman, CII, Northern Region, also addressed the participants.

Apart from various states and companies in the country, organisations from The Netherlands, Australia, Canada, China, France, Italy, Germany, Poland, Spain, and South Africa are also participating in the fair, which is showcasing the best in agriculture technology, agriculture implements and machinery, agriculture produce, processed foods et al. 

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TUs plan to improve plight of workers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
Trade union (TU) leaders today stressed upon a collective and cohesive action plan to improve the plight of workers in the “informal sector” of the economy.
Speaking on the concluding day of the National Workshop on Disseminating Replicable Organising Strategies at the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development here, participants also discussed methods to improve the backward and forward linkages between the TUs in the formal sector and the TUs in the informal sector.

Sharing good organising practices experienced by trade unions and designing future action plans also featured in the course of the discussions. Representatives from the International Labour Organisation as well as several prominent trade unions took part in the deliberations.

Highlighting the need to give more attention to the plight of workers in the informal sector, participants stressed that any effort and action plan must be implemented at all levels, covering regional and local aspects rather than just featuring at the national level.

Workers in the informal sector comprise about 50 per cent of the economic work force. The need for a concerted campaign to create awareness about the importance of this sector was also mooted. A series of presentations and discussion were also made on the practical experience of organising campaigns and lessons learnt and barriers which still need to be overcome were debated upon.

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Oriental Bank manager given warm farewell 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
A warm farewell was extended to Mr G.C. Geylong, Chief Regional Manager, Oriental Bank of Commerce, Chandigarh Zone, here today.
Mr J.P. Nahar has now taken over as the new Chief Regional Manager.

Mr Geylong, who joined here in January, 2003, has been transferred to New Delhi. It was under his pioneering leadership that the regional office here generated a profit of Rs 7 crore for the first time in its 20 years of operations here. The profit has been maintained for three consecutive years and the regional office here was declared the best regional office in 2003-04.

During his stint, the Chandigarh Regional Office registered the highest accretion in rural insurance. As many as 11 extension counters were opened in remote rural areas. This office was also awarded for its efficient settlement of claims and customer’s services.

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Low fat snacks in high demand
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Organised food processing industry now produces low fat snacks, cheese and health foods
Organised food processing industry now produces low fat snacks, cheese and health foods. — A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh, December 1
Seeing the huge potential in low fat and cholesterol free snacks and foods, the food processing sector is now rising to the market demand by launching a plethora of roasted snacks and food products like low fat cheese, soy milk, soybean flour.

So far the domain of the unorganised sector, but companies like PepsiCo India, Dairy Craft and Ruchi Soya Industries have now entered this niche market. The snacks, flour and cheese launched recently, already have a sizeable market share. Top officials in these companies, who were here to participate in the Agro Tech 2006, said the market share was five to ten per cent of the total and was expected to grow bigger.

Mr Manu Anand, Managing Director, PepsiCo India (FritoLay Division), said seeing a potential in health foods, they had launched roasted snacks called Lites. "A sizeable population of senior citizens and health conscious youth prefer to have fat free snacks. Though presently we are producing just 50 tonnes of these snacks per month, but we expect an exponential growth in this sector in the time to come," he said, while adding that they were also promoting Quakers - oatmeals- as a healthy breakfast solution.

The company had also started a "Get Active" campaign in schools across Delhi, where they were promoting wellness and health snacks," he said. Mr Rajesh Srivastava, Managing Director, Rabo India Finance ( a 100 per cent subsidiary of Rabobank), too, said the health food and beverage sector would be the next big thing in the food processing sector. "Several Indian variants of juices and health drinks will be launched in the coming months and these will change the food consuming habits of the urban consumers. Though the consumption levels of these drinks are low, we expect these to go up drastically over the next five years considering the technological advances and investments in the food processing sector," he said.

Even processed cheese which is high on cholesterol and fat has fat free and low fat variants now. Dairy Craft, a leading private dairy products manufacturer from Uttar Pradesh, has now launched low fat paneer (cottage cheese) and processed cheese. "About ten per cent of consumers now look for low fat cheese," said its Managing Director Vijay Juneja.

But not everybody is enthused about the growing demand for these products. Ruchi Soya Industries had launched its soya flour but feel that the product is catering only to a niche segment. "The common man is not asking for these products. Only five per cent of the population ask for it. So we retail this selectively," said Anoop Sharma, Area Sales Manager, Punjab. 

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