C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


A big jolt to Congress
Lalit Joshi’s papers rejected
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 4
Coming as a big jolt to the Congress, the nominations of Ms Lalit Bhardwaj (Joshi), ex-Mayor and sitting councillor, were rejected today by the Returning Officer, Mr P.S. Shergill.

She has been disqualified under Section 13(1)(g) of the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act, 1976, as extended to the UT from contesting the general election to the MCC as councillor.

Ms Munni Devi, BJP candidate from Ward No 20 had raised objections against Ms Joshi, who had filed her nominations from the same ward, for holding an office of profit by being the chairperson of the Chandigarh Social Welfare Advisory Board.

She had alleged that Ms Joshi was getting honorarium, allowances and a staff car, etc, because of her post. She had also cited the judgement of the Supreme Court in the case of Ms Jaya Bachchan.

Both candidates presented their case on Sunday in front of the Returning Officer. Mr Ashok Aggarwal, Ms Joshi’s legal representative, had accepted the fact that she was the chairperson of the said office.

He had, however, argued that no pecuniary gain was receivable for this post from the government and from the office of the chairperson of the Chandigarh Social Welfare Advisory Board.

He argued that the board was registered as a charitable company under the Companies Act in 1969. He stated that Ms Joshi was neither aware that any pecuniary benefits were attached to the post of the chairperson, nor has she received any gain.

Mr Shergill in his order today stated that after a close scrutiny of all aspects of the case it was established that Ms Joshi was holding the post of chairman of the board. Her appointment was made on November 24 and according to her position she was entitled to an honorarium of Rs 1,500 per month, house rent allowance of Rs 3,000 per month in lieu of government accommodation, 1,500 telephone calls for two months and a chauffeur-driven car.

The order stated that whether she had availed herself of the facilities were immaterial. Also her contention that she was unaware of the entitlements to the post was untenable as the ignorance of law could not be an excuse for violating it.

The order further stated that as the amount of honorarium to the chairperson was funded by the UT Administration through the Department of Social Welfare and the Government of India funds, other facilities to the post were funded by the Government of India through the central Social Welfare Board. It thus transpired that the post of chairperson of the Chandigarh Social Welfare Advisory Board was an office of profit under the state government.

Mr Ashok Aggarwal, legal counsel for Ms Joshi, however, stated that it was a wrong order. “This is a wrong order because the RO has given a finding that this office is under the government, which is not the case.”

Ms Indu Singla, vice-president of the Mahila Congress and a congress worker for the past 20 years, will now contest the elections from Ward No 20.

Talking to TNS, Mr B.B. Bahal, party president, said they would respect the decision. “If we had known about it, we would have asked her to resign from the post. She will, however, now work for the victory of the Congress.”

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MC POLL-06
Rebels to face the party axe
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 4
Rebel candidates of the Congress and the BJP, who recently filed their nominations, are set to face the axe from their respective party high command if they do not withdraw their candidature by tomorrow, the last date for withdrawing nominations.

Party sources said efforts had been on for the past few days to pacify the rebel candidates, but only a few agreed.

Talking to Chandigarh Tribune, Mr B.B. Bahl, president of the Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee, stated, “I have asked the rebel candidates to take back their nomination papers by tomorrow or face action. We will suspend their primary membership. Then we will expel them after taking up this matter with the Congress committee.”

An agitated Mr Bahl said the rebels should not expect the Congress to remain silent. “They should not have gone against the party,” he said.

He said the Congress had made them what they were. “I am trying to talk to them. My colleagues have approached them, and we hope they will take back their nominations and respect the party’s decision.”

Meanwhile, Mrs Shyama Negi, Senior Deputy Mayor, who is being talked about as the biggest rebel candidate, said she would not withdraw her nomination. She was denied the ticket by the Congress and has filed her nomination as an Independent from ward 10. She said, “I had spoken only for my ward. The Congress had no reason for denying me the ticket. I won with the maximum margin in the 2001 elections. By ignoring me, the Congress has ignored the people of Garhwal. I was not involved in any corruption and this is the price I am paying for it.”

“I have not joined hands with any other party. They didn’t even once tell me that I am not getting the ticket,” she alleged. Workers had been let down by the Bansal and Bahl fight, and now the people would ignore the Congress,” she added.

Representing the Muslim community, Mr S.M. Khan, a member of the Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee who filed his nomination as an Independent from ward 24, refuses to withdraw his nomination. Talking to Chandigarh Tribune, he said, “We don’t care about the Congress. We are waiting for the election symbols tomorrow and will get down to campaigning against it.”

“And since we have already resigned, the question of expelling us does not arise,” he added.

Mr Anand Singh, district president of the Youth Congress and chairman of the market committee, too, has filed his nomination as an independent from ward 12. He was denied the ticket by the Congress. Sources, however, said there was a strong possibility that he and Ms Nirmal Kaur, Mahila INTUC president who filed her nomination from ward 10 as an Independent after being denied the ticket by the Congress, might withdraw their candidatures.

The BJP has also decided to expel the rebel candidates. Party leader Satya Pal Jain said there were, however, only one or two who would face the axe.

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Ward Watch
Garbage dumps irk residents of Ward No. 11
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 4
Ward No. 11 (ward no 16 after de-limitation) is considered to be one of the smallest wards. It has only sectors 20 and 33 to take care of. Councillor Harmohinder Singh Lucky has only had about two years to work in the ward as he won the seats in a byelection held in 2004 after the area councillor Gyan Chand Gupta resigned.

While residents of Sector 20 are very relieved with the improvement and development work, a few also have areas of complaints like the open areas in Sector 20, which need attention. Gurbaksh Sandhu a resident of Sector 20-A states. “We are very happy that things are improving. Roads have been re-carpeted and greenbelts have also been developed. The area has also been provided good lighting facility.”

The residents lamented the garbage dumps lying in the open spaces. They are, however, grateful that the problem of lack of public toilets has been solved.

Councillorspeak

I was elected in the byelection, almost two years ago. There was less time and more work. All roads have been re carpeted. Paver blocks have been put in markets. Terraced Garden extensions have been spruced up. An e-sampark center has been opened up in Sector 20. Toilets have been renovated and built in. A new musical fountain in Terraced Garden Sector 33 and a toilet too has been put up. Around 70 parks railings have been changed, playing equipment has been provided, 50 rain shelters have been installed in the marks. All back lanes in the Sector have been 
made of concrete.

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No nomination filed on Day 1
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 4
No nominations were filed today — the first day for the filing of nominations for the panchayat samiti elections. The last date for filing nominations is December 9. Fifteen constituencies of the panchayat samiti and Mauli Jagran Gram Sabha (for filling one casual vacancy of panch only) have to elect their members panches. The nominations can be filed between 11 am and 3 pm.

The scrutiny of nominations will be taken up by the respective returning officers on December 11 at 11 am. Candidates can withdraw their candidatures after the scrutiny of nominations is over till December 13 up to 3 p.m.

The maximum limit of expenditure for a candidate in a panchayat samiti constituency has been fixed at Rs 10000 and for a panch, it is Rs 5000 for which they will have to maintain account in the prescribed form and submit the same to the returning officer concerned within a month of the declaration of the results.

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BJP: RO favouring Chatrath
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 4
The BJP candidate from ward No 2, Prof. Rajni Gupta, today accused the Chandigarh Administration and the Returning Officer, Mr I.S. Sandhu, of giving undue favours to Congress candidate, Ms Anu Chatrath.

Addressing a press conference here today, Prof Rajni Gupta demanded an inquiry and action against the Returning Officer who has blatantly sided with Ms Chatrath by ignoring complaints against her in which her holding the office of profit in various public institutions had been challenged by the BJP candidate.

Prof Gupta said, “as a matter of principle and practice after our complaint was filed with the Returning Officer and the reply filed by Ms Chatrath, the complainant should have been called and appraised of the reply filed. But this was not done and ex-parte decision to this effect was taken in the absence of the complainant clearly at the behest of the UPA functionaries in New Delhi”.

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Officers question 20 JAG Department postings
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 4
The Judge Advocate-General’s (JAG) Department, the Army’s legal wing, is in the eye of a storm with some of its officers questioning the postings of a large number of JAG officers.

A petition filed by Lt-Col C.K. Agarwal has raised the issue of postings and appointments of about 20 senior JAG officers, alleging that they were being rotated between a few peace stations.

Sources reveal that the list of officers whose appointments have been challenged includes three colonels. The remaining are lieutenant-colonels. It is learnt that last week, four officers whose names figured in the petition, have been issued posting orders. The JAG Department is a small corps with a total strength of just 93 officers, including about 15 women.

A similar petition has been filed by another JAG officer, Lt-Col Mahender Yadav, which is scheduled to come up for hearing before the Delhi High Court next week. Sources add that about three months ago, the High Court had deposed a petition filed by Lt-Col S.V. Rao, who had also questioned postings within the department. The officer had withdrawn his petition as he took premature retirement.

About five months ago, MS-14 at Army Headquarters, which deals with the postings of JAG officers had come up with a new posting policy which mandated specific tenures and posting depending on an officer’s rank and service. A presentation was also made to the Army top brass, but the policy has reportedly not been accepted.

Colonel Agarwal’s petition contends that some JAG officers are being rotated between certain stations. Except for two officers, those mentioned in the petition have never been posted to field areas or in counter-insurgency environment.

This, the petition contends, has placed many deserving officers at a disadvantage. Instances have also been brought up where some officers have spent a large chunk of their service at a particular station.

In one case a JAG officer spent over nine years in Delhi and was even sent on a foreign assignment in an appointment which is tenable by infantry officers. In another case an officer served directly under the same officer for about seven years at different places.

Commenting on the issue, Col S K Aggarwal, who recently retired from the JAG Department said that in a large number of cases in the past, favouritism has played a key role in postings.

Meanwhile, the Delhi High Court has stayed the posting of Major Q. Khan, an Army Service Corps (ASC) officer who was being moved from Delhi to Akhnoor despite being placed in low medical category.

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Teachers outsmart cops Enter Sectt, court arrest
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 4
Exposing slack in the intelligence wing and the security management of the Chandigarh Police, protesting government-aided schoolteachers not only managed to sneak into the Punjab Civil Secretariat, but also raised slogans there this afternoon.

The traffic near the Punjab Chief Minister’s residence was held up for about 20 minutes as some of the protesters raised slogans against the “indifferent attitude” of the Punjab Government. Things only came to end after about an hour when 131 teachers, hailing from Moga, courted arrest as per their plan. They were demanding restoration of the old pension scheme from June 1, 2003. Of those arrested, 63 were women.

The protesting teachers kept the local police on its toes, which failed to identify the agitators roaming around the Secretariat. Cops received information that a posse of protesting teachers had reached near the small rotary on road dividing Sector 3 and the Punjab Civil Secretariat. However, much to the embarrassment of police officials, they heard slogans from inside the Secretariat compound. The protesters were led by the state president of the union, Mr Gurcharan Singh Chahal. At this, some police officials rushed inside the compound and tried to pacify the agitators.

The Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) (South), Mr S.S. Randhawa, found it difficult to bring the situation under control as the agitating women teachers outnumbered policewomen. He had flashed a wireless message to all police stations seeking more women cops at around 1.45 pm, but only six or seven women police officers reached there, that too after a good 45 minutes.

Back at the Secretariat, it took the police more than 15 minutes to bring the protesters out of the compound. Outside, the protesters refused to sit in police trucks and police officers called Gypsies to take the agitating teachers to a police station. It was only around at 2.45 pm that the situation was brought under control.

Representatives of the protesters said from December 5 they had given a call for a complete strike at all 484 government-aided schools in the state. Besides, , they had decided to organise rallies at 100 block divisions in the state and would continue courting arrests at Chandigarh to mark their protest. On Tuesday, teachers from Ludhiana district would court arrest.

They threatened that in case the state government did not fulfil its promise, the teachers would be forced to disrupt the road show of the Chief Minister in the coming days.

Meanwhile, the protesting teachers were sent to judicial custody for 14 days by a local court.

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Rs 30,000 looted after brawl at liquor shop
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 4
In what could be termed as first election-related violence, a group of youngsters claiming to be campaigners of a candidate today entered into a brawl into a liquor vend-cum-ahata in Sector 46 here. The brawl left at least three persons injured.

For almost 15 minutes the heavily crowded market was turned into a battlefield with bricks and stones flying in all directions. Things came to an end when people from the market gathered there and on seeing the crowd the youngsters fled the spot in their Maruti Zen car (CH-03-X-5203) and on motorcycles. The incident took place at Mehta Drinking Palace in Sector 46-C at around 1:45 pm. The windowpanes of the ahata (drinking place) and of the car belonging to youngsters were smashed in the brawl.

According to eyewitnesses, the trouble began when the youngsters who came there to drink but refused to buy things from the ahata. When the employee at the ahata objected, it led to an altercation. The things turned violent when one of the youngsters slapped a waiter. The ahata staff and the youngsters clashed with each other and the drama continued for as long time. Chairs and other articles were thrown around and one of the youngsters was seen holding a broken bottle in his hand to attack.

Mr Daljit Mehta, owner of the drinking palace, alleged that the youths, claiming to be campaigners of a candidate, assaulted his employees Mahavir and Rajesh, who were admitted to the Sector 32 Government Medical College and Hospital. Mahavir was hit by a chair. The youngsters also looted over Rs 30,000 from the liquor vend before fleeing from there. People managed to nab one of the accused, who was handed over to the police.

The SHO of the Sector 34 police station, Inspector Jagir Singh, said a case of rioting, causing injuries, criminal intimidation, damaging property and trespassing has been registered in this regard on a complaint lodged by Mahavir.

The police has arrested Gurpreet Singh of Mohali, a final year student of Government College, Sector 46.

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Staggered power cuts to go in Industrial Area
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 4
TheChandigarh Administration has decided to discontinue the staggered power cuts in the Industrial Area, with immediate effect. The decision will mean big relief to hundreds of industrialists and workers who faced cuts during weekdays, particularly during the season when demand for power supply was the most. The residents of the city will share the burden of the shortage during the peak season.

Instead of shifting majority share of the power shortage merely on the industrial sectors in the city, the administration has decided that the deficit will be distributed equally in the entire city.

Confirming the development, Mr S.K.Sandhu, Finance Secretary and Secretary of the Engineering Department, said the decision had been taken following a round of discussions with the officials, residents and industrialists. "We found no justification on staggered power cuts in the area which was the profit generating and employment providing sector of the city", Mr Sandhu added.

The cut, in case required, will be imposed only on Sundays in the Industrial Area, which was usually the off day for the industries. 

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This gym is for privileged few!
G.S. Paul
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 4
When the Chandigarh Sports Department imported the latest training equipment from Italy, known as techno gym, the fitness freak common city residents took it as a special treat for them. But their perception shattered into pieces soon.

Almost 10 months have passed, the gym installed at Sector 42 Hockey Stadium is still crying for its official inauguration.

It is not that this state- of- the- art fitness equipment is lying waste, The access rights to this gym have been restricted. At present, the gym is exclusively being used either by the trainees of Chandigarh Football and Hockey Academy or by the senior functionaries of the Sports Department.

Some persons from judo and wrestling fraternity showed resentment against the biased attitude of the Sports Department. “We were just told that since the techno gym has not officially been opened, it cannot be used before that. We, at the moment, are working out on old machines, shifted at another place”, said one of the officials.

The sources further told that there was a proposal to make it accessible for general public also but it was turned down afterwards without citing any reasons. “Maybe the fear of getting it misused by the public deterred them from opening it for general public”, they opined.

It is reliably learnt that though the keys of the gym are kept with the watchman of the hostel but the access rights to the gym are solely at the discretion of high functionaries of the Sports Department.

The sources told that the Hockey and Football Academy trainees use the techno equipments thrice a week in the morning and evening while the Sports Department and top administrative officials, alongwith their guests, make full use of it in both mornings and evenings, whenever and whatever time suits them.

It is pertinent to mention that 10 months back in order to provide the city residents a gymnasium which could meet international standards, 14 machines worth Rs 60 lakh were imported, only to be installed at Sector 42 Hockey Stadium.

These were the same machines which were used in the Sydney Olympics, Athens Olympics or Winter Games. Very minute details have been worked out, from flooring to the décor of the gym.

The senior officials of Sports Department also stated then that besides academy trainees, the gym will be opened for the general public also and this facility will be open for them at very nominal membership fee. The department has not yet worked out on membership fee or the timings for general public use.

What to talk of fee structure or timings, the gym has not been officially inaugurated till now.

Mr Inderjit Singh Sandhu, Director, Chandigarh Sports Department, said, “We have imported equipments worth Rs 60 lakh and earlier, it was proposed to install the whole lot at Sector 42 Sports Complex. But later a part of it was installed at Lake Sports Complex gym which is open for general public which uses it at a nominal fee of Rs 300 a month.”

Mr J.P.S. Sidhu, Joint Director, Chandigarh Sports Department, said, “The machines at 42 stadium have to be used under the strict vigil of a specialised trainer. Very soon we are going to engage one. Actually we are waiting for the next lot of machines. Yet another order worth Rs 39.41 lakh for 10 more machines has already been placed with the Italian firm and these could come at any time. Some of the equipment would be shifted to Lake Sports Complex for public use but the apparatus installed at Sector 42 Stadium will remain exclusively for CHFA- 42 academy trainees only. Once, we receive the awaited consignment, we will get it inaugurated officially also.

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Watch out

Chandigarh-based Mitika Kanwar has clinched the top place in classical music and vocal for the second consecutive year in the Inter-Zonal All-India Mahatma Hans Raj Aryan Youth Festival underway at Ghaziabad. Mitika, a student of DAV Public School, is a disciple of Indore Gharana and is learning classical music (gayan shailies) like thumari, tappa, sufi and devotional music.

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In Town

Film journalist, editor and now script-writer and director Pammi Somal is here to present her film ‘Mummy-ji’ which has Kirron Kher playing the lead role. The film is about the present-day ‘Urban-India’ Punjabi mother and traces her life from the kitchen to the clubhouse in the words of the writer. The film has also been co-produced by her company Creative Steps and has music by Aadesh Sivastava. The film also stars Kanwaljit Singh and Jackie Shroff among others. Pammi was till recently a CEO of a media house and Editor of a Celebrity Lifestyle Magazine. Currently, she is president (Business Development) with a Singapore-based company and also spends time working on her various scripts for films. Pammi studied in convents in India and Nepal and settled down in Mumbai in 1978 and has been writing for over 20 years now. 

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Passing Through

Mr Rajiv Sethi
Mr Rajiv Sethi, Marketing Manager Channels-South Asia-Intel Technology India

What brings you to the city?
I am here to launch the Intel Channel Conference, where we are training our 150 partners in Chandigarh on the latest technology and products of Intel. Our latest offer- Core2 Duo- a dual processor in desk tops has created a lot of excitement in the market and is 40 per cent faster and more power efficient than any other products in its range. We are also informing our chanel partners about the upcoming platforms.

What are the other products to be launched by Intel?

Intel Technologies is now focussing on multi core technology and in the next year, we will be launching Quad Core (a four-in-one processor). Some part of this processor has also been developed at our centre in Bangalore. This futuristic processor will take our products on an altogether different level in the market.

Such frequent and new innovations are meant only for the niche segment. Please comment.

Agreed that such innovations are meant for the niche segment, but we cannot stop from inventing new technology. Our focus is on enhancing the technology and consumer experience.

— By Ruchika M. Khanna

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Chandigarh Calling

Check petrol in your vehicle before driving from Chandigarh to Zirakpur. Chances are that you will need someone to pick you up, or else you will have to leave behind your vehicle and walk till beads of perspiration appearing on your brow even in this weather if the tank is empty. For, there is just one petrol pump on the highway, that, too, is nearly out of access. Ever since the work on the constructing of the flyover started, it is just not easy for you to reach it, especially if you are driving in the opposite direction and plan to take a u-turn. On the other hand, the authorities concerned have liberally allowed thekas and ahatas to come up on the road. In fact, you encounter five of them while commuting between the two places. If only liquor could drive vehicles also, the problem would have been solved, undoubtedly.

Lage raho, Wadhawan

Nostalgia was in the air at Saket Hospital in Panchkula the other day when Mr Keshav Chander Wadhawan, Deputy Director of the Public Relations Department of the Haryana Government and the Editor of the Haryana Samvad, was felicitated at a function.

The Commissioner and Secretary, Social Justice and Empowerment, Haryana, Ms Anuradha Gupta, felicitated the veteran champion of the rights of the physically-challenged.

As a special gesture, the born fighter that Mr Wadhawan is distributed a book of poems, “Main viklang nahi” to the inmates free of cost. And with this the struggle of Mr Wadhawan for a dignified life for the physically-challenged continues. Lage raho, Wadhawan!

Honour for Prof Ahluwalia

Professor Arun D Ahluwalia of the Geology Department Panjab University, has been honoured with the membership of the USA National Committee of the International Year of Planet Earth(IYPE) on his current visit. Prof Ahluwalia on his visit to the University of Cincinnati has carried out extensive field work in Kentucky and Niagra areas. His zeal for being avid geoscience mass communicator and science populariser had earlier got him invitation from Geological Society of India to write a book on geotourism. Professor Ahluwalia delivered a talk : Geological History of Himalayas & Grandeur of its landscapes on Monday at PSU (Pennsylvania State University) and will be visiting universities in Kentucky, Virginia and Indiana, besides certain other places.

Recycling garlands

The local unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party recently held a public function to welcome its newly elected state president to the district. During the welcome, garlands bought by the organisers fell well short of the requirement, given the number of enthusiasts wanting to garland the new president.

Innovative organisers of the local unit were quick to remove the garlands the president was wearing. One man stood at the steps of the dias erected for the function and handed over the garlands to queued up activists. The garlands were recycled five times before all the activists got a turn to garland the leader.

Witty Shekhawat

For doctors, specially dentists, Vice President of India Bhairon Singh Shekhawat has a special place. In his inaugural speech delivered at the opening of the Dr HS Judge Dental College in the city, he said he had been very close to the fraternity of doctors since he had been patient to many. Then he went on to say that dentists calm the worst forms of toothache. He quoted Shakespeare, “There was never yet a philosopher that could endure the toothache patiently.” But he added that dental treatment is expensive. “I once came across an interesting cartoon caption which vividly captured the woe of a patient when he exclaimed before the dentist: ‘For a simple root canal, you have charged me for Suez Canal”, he said. He ended by saying that he hoped the doctors of Institute “will preserve and protect the normal as well as the wisdom teeth of the people in addition to making Chandigarh a hub of knowledge and excellence.”

Contributed by Rajiv Bhatia, Pradeep Sharma, Sanjeev Singh Bariana, Geetanjali Gayatri and Chitleen Sethi

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RTI will check corruption, says Punjab CIC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 4
A two-day seminar was organised by Punjab Institute of Cooperative Training, Chandigarh in collaboration with Yashwant Rao Academy of Development Administration (YASHADA), Pune on 'Right to Information and Cooperatives' , at the Punjab State Cooperative Bank here today.

The seminar was inaugurated by Mr Rajan Kashyap, the Chief Information Commissioner of Punjab. In his inaugural speech, Mr Kashyap quoted Francis Bacon saying, "knowledge is power", and stressed that the RTI Act will usher in more accountability and will keep a check on corruption. He said the freedom of speech, available to citizens under Art. 19 of the constitution, will acquire complete meaning only when people have access to the required information.

All its decisions, working, staff, expenditures, etc are transparent and easily available on its website, which is www. infocompunjab.com. He said the best thing would be to have one information counter in every 'Suvidha Center', and every Deputy Commissioner should review its performance on a monthly basis.

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BJP stakes claim to Banur segment
Tribune News Service

Dera Bassi, December 4
The general secretary of the Mohali district unit of the BJP, Mr Suresh Gupta, today announced that the party would stake claim to the Banur Assembly segment in the Punjab elections.

Mr Gupta was speaking at a function organised to welcome certain Congressmen, who joined the BJP, at Haripur Kuda village, near here, today.

The name of the party candidate from Banur would be announced soon, he said. Currently the Banur segment is being represented by senior Shiromani Akali Dal leader, Capt Kanwaljit Singh.

Prominent among those, who joined the BJP, were Mr Nasib Singh, Mr Labh Singh and Mr Raju, all panches.

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Fauji Beat
A battle that sprung surprise

How could Major Kuldip Singh Chandpuri, a company commander of 23 Punjab, with only 70 men under his command, beat back an attack by a Pakistani brigade supported by a regiment of tanks? Though it sounds incredible, it did happen on December 5, when his truncated company was occupying the Laungewala post in Rajasthan in the 1971 war.

According to our plan, two brigades of the division located at Jaisalmer were to launch an attack into Pakistan. The third brigade under the late Brig RO Kharbanda, which was nominated to defend Jaisalmer Bulge, too had to launch three limited attacks to divert the enemy from our main thrust. Thus what Brig Kharbanda was left with were two rifle companies, one each at Laungewala and Sadewala. Laungewala was the least likely route of the enemy's ingress.

It was against this setting that the Pakistanis started shelling the Laungewala post with medium artillery little after 2.30 am on December 5, and by 3.30 am the post was surrounded by the enemy. This was followed by a series of attacks by the enemy. All of which were beaten back. In the morning, our Air Force also came into action and targeted the enemy's armour. At 9.30 am when the IAF planes had gone back to the base to refill, one enemy tank, which was coming straight on to the post, got bogged down in the sand.

Several brave men of our company were honoured with gallantry awards in this battle. Major Kuldip Singh Chandpuri (now a retired Brig) won a Maha Vir Chakra. His unit, 23 Punjab, was awarded the Battle Honour of Laungewala and Theatre Honour of Sind.

A monument rout

"We will have breakfast at Laungewala, lunch at Ramgarh and dinner at Jaisalmer", said Brig Tariq Mir, Commander, 51 Brigade of the Pakistan Army. This boast of the Brig was revealed by the Pakistani prisoners of war. The marked maps and documents captured by us also proved that the enemy's destination was Jaisalmer.

How could 70 men under Major Chandpuri defeat a brigade grouped with a regiment of armour? According to the recorded opinion of his Brigade Commander, Brig RO Kharbanda: "The Pakistani Commander had the means but Kuldip and his boys had the will. They held the post against all odds and the Pakistanis had to retreat in defeat and humiliation. They left behind on the battlefield 37 tanks, nearly 200 vehicles and 100 dead. The commanders of the Pakistani division and brigade were both sacked after this action."

Enigma of promotions

Who is a good officer? One, who is professionally sound, trains his men well, looks after their welfare and leads them into battle with success. Besides, a good officer should possess high integrity and should be sincere and loyal to his superiors as well as subordinates.

A number of cases have come to light where officers who have been acknowledged to be good in all respects have not made the grade for their next promotion. Among them are Cols Umesh Singh Bawa and Lalit Rai, who not only won Vir Chakras in the Kargil war but their units also won a host of gallantry awards. Similar is the case of Col OP Yadav, who was awarded Yudh Seva Medal. All the three units commanded by them were awarded "Chief's Unit Citation" and Col Rai's unit also got "Bravest of the Brave" award. Cols Bawa and Yadav, apart from being graduates from the Defence Services Staff College, have also attended the Higher Command Course. Col Rai has done the Long Defence Management Course. Yet another case is that of Col Kamal Kumar Sharma, who won a Shaurya Chakra and a Sena Medal twice. He has chucked the Army in disgust and is in the hotel industry now.

These officers, besides possessing the best qualifications, have led their men to victory in battle. Why have they then been denied promotions? The answer puts a question mark on the Annual Confidential Reports' (ACRs) system, which it is felt by most needs a major revision.

— Pritam Bhullar

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Woman to man traffic
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 4
Traffic violators have zipped around the city undeterred. Having had a field day with hardly any cop to watch out for them, they now have reason to fall in line and begin adhering to rules.

For, realising the need for traffic management in the city, the SP, Mr Balbir Singh, has allocated its entire work to woman cop Samati Chaudhary.

He launched an offensive against violators today by setting up nakas and issuing stern warnings to violators.

DSP Chaudhary has been entrusted with the task of regulating traffic flow. “We have identified our areas of concern. These include approaching the Municipal Corporation to block all illegal entries along roadsides and put up railings to check violators from taking shortcuts. We have also thought of installing lights at all roundabouts as well,” the SP said.

Besides this, the DSP has been asked to deal with rash drivers with a strong hand. 

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Chaos on city roads
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 4
It has chaos all the way on city roads during evening hours. With the roads witnessing traffic jams during peak hours, motorists were put to inconvenience as they were caught in jams for more than half an hour at some places.

The situation was even worse on the Chandigarh-Ambala highway, especially near Tribune Chowk.

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2 jhuggis, shop gutted

Panchkula, December 4
Two jhuggis and a shop dealing in scrap were gutted in a fire that broke out in Azad Colony in Sector 21 this morning.

The scrap dealer, Bodh Raj, said scrap worth Rs 30,000 had perished in the fire.

He came to know of the incident at 10 am when he came to open his shop in Azad Colony this morning. By then, everything had been reduced to ashes. — TNS

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Fire in showroom
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 4
Goods worth thousands of rupees were gutted in a fire which broke out in a showroom of readymade garments in Sector 7, this evening.

Mr Jaspal Singh and Mr Naresh Kumar, owners of confectionary shops in the market, noticed smoke emitting out of the showroom (No 66) at about 8.30 pm.

The confectionary shop owners informed the fire stations at Panchkula and Mani Majra. Two engines from Mani Majra fire station reached the spot and doused the fire.

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Sector 20 gets post office

Panchkula, December 4
A new post office was inaugurated in the Sector 20 market, here today.

Inaugurating the post office, the Post Master General, Ambala circle, Mr Prithvi Raj Kumar, said another 13 post offices would be opened in Panchkula.— TNS

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Clarification

Apropos to the news-item published in these columns under headline “rebel candidates may rock parties’ boat” on December 2, Mr Balraj Singh,a Congress councillor, on Monday clarified that he had not filed his nomination as an Independent candidate for elections to the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh (MCC) scheduled to be held on December. TNS

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Free market access for Indian mangoes abroad
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 4
The Agricultural and Processed Food Export Development Authority (APEDA) is trying to get market access for Indian organic food products in the USA, grapes in China and Indian meat and meat products in Saudi Arabia and Basmati rice in Mexico.

Disclosing this to The Tribune here today, Mr K S Money, Chairman, APEDA, said this year they had already managed to get free market access for mangoes to Japan and China, and organic foods to Europe this year. “The European Union (EU) has recognised our certification for organic foods, and thus we have been allowed market access. The USA too has recognised our certification, but the procedural formalities have to be complete, before we are allowed to export the organic foods there,” he said while adding at the same time that these food products would be exported from 2007.

The Chairman also informed TNS that an inter-departmental committee of various ministries has also recommended simplification in procedure for export of perishable commodities.

“We found that a number of agencies (over 30) were involved in allowing export of agri commodities and the exporters have to fill innumerable documents. The committee has now recommended that a single export document be introduced for exporters which will be electronically filed,” he said.

When the documents will be electronically filed, various government agencies can pick up the information they require. “It has also been recommended to set up a nodal agency to deal with these agri exports which will have a simplified documentation and procedure,” added Mr Money.

He said APEDA had also prepared a document on GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) and submitted this to the Ministry of Agriculture so that these could be notified. Once implemented, GAP will have to implemented by all agri exporters and ensure a standard in quality.

“Better incentives for service providers (logistics like cargo ships and planes, and cold chain storage chains) in agri exporters will also be taken up by APEDA before the 11th Planning Commission. This would include high subsidy on the running cost of these services initially till the time these become economically viable,” he said.

Mr Money said though APEDA had earlier approached the Haryana Government several times for setting up an Agri Export Zone (AEZ), considering large scale basmati exports from Haryana, the government had failed to take the necessary steps.

“The idea behind setting up these zones is to provide coordinated services to exporters in these areas. As a result, we have 60 AEZs in 20 states. But now the Central Government has put a cap on adding more of these zones,” he said.

Mr Money informed TNS that in Punjab, APEDA had released Rs 1.88 crore for upgrading the main basmati mandis at Amritsar, Taran Taran and Batala, but the government initiative was slow. 

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Agro Tech 2006 concludes
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 4
The growth in retail sector will go a long way in increasing the share of farmers in the profits from his produce. Presently, the Indian farmer gets 22 per cent of the share while the maximum share is pocketed by the trader.

This was stated by Punjab Planning and Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, while delivering the valedictory address at Agro Tech 2006, organised by Confederation of Indian Industry, Northern Region, here today.

“Comparatively, the farmers in the USA and Europe get 45-50 per cent of the profits. When the retail sector grows bigger, the farmers stand to benefit as they get better remuneration,” he said.

Mr Singla said agricultural growth in the country had to double and cross 4 per cent through a public-private investment. It is a big challenge before the Indian farmers and industry. He recalled when the Punjab Government invited large corporate groups to enter into the agribusiness in the state, they said they would like to increase the farmers' income to 45 per cent of what the consumers paid for the end produce. "To improve the lives of farmers and ensure growth in agriculture, farmers need fairs like Agro Tech" Mr Singla added.

The northern states of Punjab and Haryana have to shift from a two crop to a multi crop system. "Regardless of the challenges, there is a huge opportunity for the farmers of region.

There is a global need for food and the farmers have the capacity to respond to the challenges and provide the food," Mr Singla said.

On this occasion, Ms Asha Sharma, Principal Secretary, Agriculture, Haryana, said that "India is a very attractive destination for agribusiness and marketing. Agro Tech 2006 has been a very timely and appropriate event because the agriculture sector is facing a crisis," said Mrs Asha Sharma, Financial Commissioner and Principal Secretary, Agriculture, Haryana.

She added the government now had to think in terms of a second green revolution, as there had been a shortfall of 1 per cent in the production of wheat in Punjab and Haryana this year.

Mr Ajay S. Shriram, Chairman of Agro Tech 2006, said this was the seventh Agro Tech, and was a grand success.

"Overall double digit growth will be possible by public and private investment and technological intervention. Food and agriculture will continue to be the growth drivers of the North. What is needed is innovation in product mix and cutting-edge technologies," he said.

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Fresh tenders invited for IT centre
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 4
The Chandigarh Administration has restarted the process of inviting tenders for the prestigious Rs 8.85-crore Entrepreneur Development Centre (EDC) project.

The tenders received in response to an earlier notice were rejected as only two parties sent their bids whose quotes were very high.

The last date for submission of tenders is December 27. The Entrepreneur Development Centre (EDC), to come up at the Rajiv Gandhi Chandigarh Technology Park, is to be set up on 1.5 acres.

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