C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


All 6 teachers of Art college relieved
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
Throwing the Chandigarh College of Art into a crisis, the entire teaching staff of Masters in Fine Arts (MFA) was relieved by the Chandigarh Administration today. The six faculty members, who have been on contract in the college, for the past two years were handed over relieving orders this afternoon with no reason offered.

The college has 30 students in MFA (II) and 22 in MFA (I). The MFA (I) students who were admitted in December 2006 are just three months into the session.

The relieving orders were signed by the acting principal of the college Rajesh Sharma, who is temporarily looking after the college in the absence of principal Brahm Prakash who is on a short medical leave.

Speaking to The Tribune the sacked teachers alleged that they had been relieved in contempt of a Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) judgment and that too by an officiating principal who was not empowered to pass such orders.

The joint secretary technical education S.K.Sethia, however, denied the charge, stating that no judicial orders had been violated. He added that these teachers were not required in the college as MFA (II) students have completed the course. He said there were no students in MFA (I) as the college was denied affiliation to Panjab University. “Since there are no students who need to be taught, the teachers have been relieved,” he claimed.

When informed that the college was initially denied affiliation to MFA (I) by the university but in December 2006, affiliation was granted and fresh students were admitted, Sethia said he had no knowledge of this.

He said he had merely acted on a proposal sent by the college principal that these teachers were not required in the college for the teaching of MFA classes. “Moreover the orders were issued by higher authorities. I simply forwarded the case. I have joined only 10 days ago and am not well versed with the functioning of the college,” he said.

The college principal Brahm Prakash, when contacted, denied having sent any such proposal. “We have an acute shortage of staff in the college. Why would I send a proposal like this? Even the number of teachers taking Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) classes is less than what is laid down by the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE). This could have been done by Rajesh Sharma who is officiating while I am away,” he said.

Rajesh Sharma could not be contacted despite repeated calls on his mobile. Interestingly, the orders have been signed by Rajesh Sharma on behalf of the ‘head of department’ of the college Mr Daljit Singh, who is the chief general manager, CITCO, and holds the additional charge of the CCA.

When contacted, Daljit Singh, too, passed the buck. “I just forwarded the file sent to me by the Chandigarh Administration. The CAT decision was taken into account before it was decided that these teachers be relieved. I have nothing to do with the college directly,” he said.

The MFA session began in December last year and will continue till October this year. Similarly the II year students are still being taught and will be finishing the syllabus only by August this year. “Over 50 students will be affected by the move with no one to take their classes,” alleged Dr Maneesh Arora, one of the affected teachers. The other teachers who have been relieved include Gautam Kar, Kaushal Kumar, Ajay Pandey, Pankaj Saroj and Manmeet Dhillon.

The teachers met Home Secretary Krishan Mohan this evening, questioning the orders of the Administration. They said they would be giving a representation to the Home Secretary to revoke the orders, failing which they would also move CAT for contempt. Krishan Mohan could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.

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Lightning strikes Shiv Temple in Dadu Majra
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
Lightning struck Shiv Temple in Dadu Majra in the wee hours today, damaging it partially. The impact was so powerful that a lotus flower built atop the dome of the temple was completely damaged and its debris was scattered in an area of around 100m.

Cracks developed on the walls of the temple and its plaster came off.

A TV set along with other electronic appliances, including cables, was burnt in the incident. Two priests, who are residing in the temple, escaped unhurt. The temple is located in a densely populated area of the village.

Villagers stated that lightning struck at around 3:30 am and the entire village thundered due to the shock waves caused by it.

The temple’s dome towers above other structures in the village.

A former sarpanch of the village, Tarsem Pal Rana, said the damage came to light in the morning when they saw the affected dome. The temple was constructed two decades ago.

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Model schools may go smart
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
The UT education department has submitted an IT-aided education programme for government schools in the city.

Government model schools will be converted into smart schools, where classrooms will be converted into technology rooms.

All government schools will provide free and compulsory computer education to students.

To give suggestions and formulating the policy on smart schools, a committee of principals of four school has been constituted to go into the details of the system before its implementation.

Initially, government model senior secondary schools in sectors 16, 19, 33 and 46 will be converted into smart schools, where emphasis will be not only on the use of information technology, but also on educating skills and value, that will be of importance in the future.

In smart schools, the focus will be on learning through technology.

Classrooms will be equipped with laptops, plasma screens, one personal computer for every two students and broadband internet connection.

The software for the schools will be content-based or syllabus-based.

Teachers in these schools will be provided intensive training in the use of technology in classroom procedure and practices.

All educational services of the schools will be interconnected and centralised, with the principal acting as nodal officer for all activities.

Classrooms will be converted into technology rooms by establishing resource rooms for providing on-the-spot guidance to teachers and other educational facilitators.

Students will have pervasive access to technology in the form of multimedia stations, notebook computers and hand-held devices.

Students will collaborate and the nature of the interaction will be supportive rather than competitive.

Teachers will be able to present material to the class via large-screen television screens or liquid crystal display projections in classrooms.

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Four-laning work hits students hard
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Dera Bassi, March 1
For hundreds of students of the Class XII belonging to Dera Bassi and surrounding areas, who wanted to take the CBSE examination in Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali, it was a test of another kind.

With the Ghaggar Bridge at Bhankharpur closed for the heavy vehicular traffic, including buses, in the wake of the ongoing four-laning of the Ambala-Chandigarh highway, the students had difficulty in reaching their respective examinations centres.

In fact, reaching Zirakpur for onward journey to the tricity posed its own set of problems with the students at their wits' end. First they had to come to the bridge in the mini buses from Dera Bassi. Later they had to walk to the other side of the bridge to catch three-wheerlers to reach Zirakpur.

And with the construction work in progress for the Zirakpur flyover, it was nothing but a harrowing experience for the students, who were already under the examination stress. "I started at 6 a.m. and it barely on time that I could make it to the examination centre in Chandigarh," Mohit, a student complained.

Moreover, the incessant rains also compounded the misery of the students and their parents. Changing three means of transport wasted a lot of time adding to the stress level of the students, parents alleged.

The bridge was closed for heavy vehicular traffic since it had outlived its utility. However, it had been repaired recently giving it a new lease of life.

Meanwhile, residents have urged the Banur MLA, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, to intervene in the matter and prevail upon the authorities concerned to start at least three-wheelers and mini buses from Dera Bassi to Zirakpur.

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18-yr-old girl crushed to death
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
An eighteen-year-old unidentified girl was crushed to death under the Kalka-Ambala train this afternoon here. The police said it is yet to be confirmed whether it was an accident death or suicide.

The accident took place between Baltana and Harmilap Nagar at around 2 pm. The police said the victim suffered severe head injuries in the mishap and was died on the spot. The exact circumstances of the accident would only be ascertained after recording statement of the train driver.

The girl was wearing an old ragged maroon suit. She looked like to be a migrant labourer. Her body has been kept in the police post.

The police said they took the body to various colonies in the nearby area for identification, but in vain. The inquest proceedings have been initiated in his connection.

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Budget surplus projected at Rs 443.62 cr
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
In the budget announced yesterday, the Chandigarh administration today stated that of the budgetary provision of Rs 1417.63 crore, it was likely to earn to the extent of Rs 1278.62 crore as revenue during the financial year 2007-08, against the budgeted target of Rs 1090.80 crore for 2006-2007.

The budgeted surplus for 2007-2008 was projected at Rs 443.62 crore against the budgeted surplus of Rs 276.80 crore last year.

The resource position of the administration on non-Plan side was positive.

The budgeted surplus during the last five years was not only achieved, but exceeded at the close of every financial year.

The total allocation for 2007-08 was Rs 1417.63 crore on gross basis.

The non-Plan budget (gross) was Rs 1150 crore and the plan was for Rs 267.63 crore.

These were the same allocations which had been submitted by the administration, it was clarified.

The Plan allocation (2007-08) was Rs 267.63 crore, 23.5 per cent over the budget estimates of last year (Rs 216.66 crore).

The Plan budgetary allocation was aiming at three areas, human development, infrastructure and environment.

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IT industry rues tax on ESOP
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
The IT industry in the city has been highly critical of the Budget proposals announced by the finance minister for the Information Technology (IT) sector.

Representatives of the industry say that the Budget has been a step back on all commitments by the Union government for the IT sector. The sunset clause for the IT parks for 2009 has been done away with and employees’ stock option plans (ESOP) have been brought under the gambit of fringe benefit tax (FBT). These will now be taxed at 33.99 per cent.

The Chandigarh region has been hailed as an IT destination with the IT companies coming up in the city and Mohali. Panchkula, too, is developing an IT Park and hopes to attract several big names in the IT sector. But the announcements in the Budget 2007-08 have not gone down well with the IT companies here. Information technology is no longer the sunshine sector - this was the common sentiment expressed by the IT companies located in the tricity.

The benefits of investment in venture capital funds now being extended to biotechnology, nanotechnology, seed research and dairy, besides IT industry, the local IT industry feels that these industries will be invited in the region and given comparatively more sops by the governments here.

Mr Partap Aggarwal, managing director of IDS Infotech and Chairman of CII Chandigarh Council, said the small and medium enterprises within the IT sector would have a severe impact with the inclusion of ESOPs within the framework of fringe benefit tax. “This will have a devastating impact on the SMEs as it will increase costs affecting the margins,” he said, while adding that the majority of IT companies use ESOPs to retain their employees.

His views were supported by Mr Puneet Vatsayan, managing director, Mobera Systems, who said the inclusion of ESOPs in the FBT would also affect employee retention. “Though ESOPs will not lose their appeal, the returns employees expect from ESOPs will rise. This will lead to a crunch in skilled manpower as attrition rates would increase. The small IT companies will have a few resources to expand,” he said.

Mr Sameer Jain, CEO, Net Solutions, said the extension of STPI Scheme was a pre-requisite for the growth of the SMEs in the IT Sector. The minimum alternative tax (MAT) of 11.22 per cent on IT and other eligible companies would affect the growth prospects in the sector. Similarly, the dividend distribution tax would act as a huge burden and a deterrent to the growth of the sector, he added.

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Real time relay of fleet review by UAVs
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) flying overhead would be relaying the proceedings of the President’s Fleet Review (PFR), the largest-ever display of IAF prowess in near “real time” during the duration of the programme. Sources said a Heron UAV would maintain a circuit over the PFR venue here at an altitude of 15,000 feet.

The video relay from the UAV would be downloaded at a mobile receiving centre here and thereafter be available for public viewing.

The IAF fleet, which would include just about all types of aircraft and weapon systems in service, would be reviewed by the President, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, on March 7 here. A massive static display, a grand fly past and a ceremonial parade are being organised to mark the event. The Armed Forces began procuring Heron UAVs from Israel in 2002 and reports place the number of Herons in service with the forces at 46.

They made their first public appearance in 2003 and have also been showcased at Rajpath on Republic Day. During the Air Force Day parade 2006, these were used for live relay of the parade, which was viewed by the audience on giant screens set up at the venue and they were able to get a glimpse of what the parade looked like from the air.The Heron is a fourth generation medium-altitude long-endurance system with fully automatic take-off and landing features.

It can operate at altitudes of 30,000 feet, providing deep-penetration, wide-area, real-time intelligence to end-users, such as national agencies, theatre commanders and lower echelons

Meanwhile, the IAF started rehearsals for the fly past today.

The famed Surya Kiran aerobatic team and the Sarang helicopter display team would be showcasing their skills.

Fighters, transports and helicopters would be participating in the fly past.

Rehearsals for the parade have been going on for the past several days and the station is being spruced up for the visit of the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. Most of the transport aircraft parked in the dispersal bay have been elsewhere to make way for setting the stage for the parade.

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Colonel guilty of using improper language with woman officer
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
Revising its earlier findings, a general court martial (GCM) today held a colonel guilty of using improper language with a lady officer and awarded him a reprimand.

The GCM, presided by Brig J.S. Rawat, had acquitted the officer, Col D. Mitra, of all 12 charges levelled against him in a case pertaining to alleged sexual assault on a woman officer under his command. When the findings were sent to the convening authority for confirmation, it passed orders that the court reconsider its findings.

Revision was ordered on 11 charges and the court held in on a single charge while other charges could not be proved. In its special findings, the court observed: “On reconsideration of evidence and the advice of the judge advocate, we are now of the opinion that even if the accused had not used those words for the lady officer, the very usage was culpable under Section 45 of the Army Act.”

The court, therefore, comes to a special finding that even if the name of the lady officer was to be omitted from the charge, the gist of the charge was not negated, the court’s order stated.

Defence counsel P.N. Chaturvedi termed the court’s order as “illegal” on the grounds that the court had disallowed its submissions against the revision order and its contempt of court application without examining any witnesses, even though the prosecution had accepted the contentions contained therein.

He said the prosecution had conceded that the complainant officer had been granted an interview with the president of the Western Command Army Wives Welfare Association and also that the military intelligence had interrogated witnesses while the GCM’s findings were still to be confirmed. These acts, he said violated provisions of the Army Act and Army Rules,

He also contended that Army Rule 22, which is mandatory in cases where the character of an accused is questioned, was not applied during the revision and special finding.

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Passengers on Samjhauta Express on high alert
Amrita Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
Passengers post-Samjhauta Express blast are on a high alert. Edgy they tend to raise the alarm at the slightest suspicion. One such incident was witnessed at the New Delhi-Kalka Shatabdi last evening.

A passenger missing from his seat had the RPF personnel on the train in frenzy. Unable to locate him they took his luggage in possession and made umpteen announcements for him to return to his seat as the ‘RPF were worried and looking for him’. While the strange announcement had everyone in peels of laughter, it also saw all of them wake up from their slumber.

The rest of the journey saw them all jittery and only discuss the lack of security and the Samjhauta Express blast.

A similar incident was reported on the New Delhi-Amritsar Shatabdi.

A young passenger made enquiries of the various stops the train would make and when and for how long very keenly. Later he left his seat.

Not having returned for a while, the passengers started to look for him. Unable to find him they raised the alarm. It was later, however, found that he was seated elsewhere with a friend.

Such incidents, RPF jawans travelling on the train inform, are now common since the blast.

The otherwise safe Shatabdi is witnessing many panicky passengers raise alarms without any reason, they inform.

However, while the passengers have become more alert keeping an eye out for suspicious baggage and people the security being provided by the railways still comes under the scanner. In the Shatabdi itself the security personnel only enquire whose baggage it is.

No effort is made to scan or check the baggage. Also after the scheduled stop at Ambala, no checking takes place.

Also at the Chandigarh station there is no checking. At New Delhi, however, checking counters have been set up.

But checking is conducted only randomly.

Talking to TNS a few passengers stated that it was worrisome that nothing was done. “Politicians only make statements that security has been tightened.

In reality nothing has been done and will be done,” stated Hardev Kaur, a passenger.

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UT seeks fresh panel of PCS officers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
After refusal by two PCS officers to join on deputation with the Chandigarh Administration, a fresh panel of the state-cadre officers has been sought from the Punjab Government. The Administration has in a communication to Punjab Government also sought extension for the Additional Deputy Commissioner, Inderjit Singh Sandhu.

The new panel of PCS officers sought by the administration would replace O.P. Popli and H.S. Kandhola, currently on deputation with the Chandigarh Administration. The officers, Surinder Kaur Riar and Devinder Singh, who were earlier selected by the Administration, did not join here.

Sources said among the HCS officers selected by the administration, Vandana Dasodia and P.K. Sharma have already joined.The third one, Jagtar Singh, was not relieved by the Haryana Government.

While the administration was keen on taking the same officers, the state government is said to have asked the administration to select others whose name had been sent in the earlier panel. There was likelihood of Administration’s seeking extension for S.K. Setia.

As per the standard practice, the administration seeks yearly extension for the state-cadre officers from the respective state governments. The minimum tenure for the state-cadre officers was three years, going up to five years.

“Seeing performance of the officers, the administration keeps on asking for extension,” said a senior officer.

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Cable snaps, delays trains
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
Rail traffic on the Chandigarh-Ambala route came to a standstill after an overhead electricity cable snapped this evening.

All trains arriving and departing from the city were delayed by more than two hours due to the incident.

According to officials, the cable snapped around 6:30 pm near Dhurkot.

Though repair work started within 15 minutes, rail traffic was not allowed before 9 pm.

The evening New Delhi-Kalka Shatabdi arrived around two hours late.

The Shatabdi, leaving the city at 6:20 pm, was stalled after departure.

The evening passenger train and the Jan Shatabdi were also delayed.

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Parking Blues
Parking woes galore in Industrial Area
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
For 47-year-old Sandeep Sharma, reaching office in Industrial Area, Phase I, is tougher than dealing with customers out to purchase furniture from the showroom he works in.

And the reason is not very hard to see. Every morning at least half-an-hour is wasted in searching parking space for leaving behind his car.

In the absence of adequate space inside the industrial plot where the showroom is located, he has to look for vacant areas along the roadside.

Sharma is not alone. Others working in the industrial area too face the same problem. For them, the things have only worsened ever since showrooms started opening in place of industrial units.

The worst-affected are the visitors to the showrooms offering cars and other vehicles. Following a ban on the parking of vehicles on the footpaths imposed by the Chandigarh Police, some of them keep sourcing for parking spaces in vain.

"Last Saturday, I wanted to have a look at a 200-cc motorbike launched recently in the city, but after searching for parking space for almost 15 minutes I turned back without visiting the showroom," says business executive Pradeep Sharma.

The others, caring two hoots for the law, leave behind their vehicles haphazardly along the roadside, resulting in the creation of traffic bottlenecks and, subsequent, jams that sometimes last for over half an hour.

The problem is particularly bad on week days between 9 am and 8 pm due to the heavy rush of visitors. "Though the problem has time and again been brought to the notice of the authorities concerned, they have hardly done anything to solve the problem," says local trader Sat Pal.

He adds that even now the authorities concerned can solve the problem by strictly implementing the ban on the parking of vehicles on the footpaths after creating additional lots in the periphery of the Industrial Area.

"Under no circumstances should the authorities concerned be allowed to cut the trees or compromise with the space meant for the pedestrians," he asserts, adding that the administration should ensure the provision of space for the parking lots within the buildings before clearing the architectural plans.

Another resident, Shamsher Singh Sandhu, adds multilevel parking is, perhaps, the only solution to the parking problem in the area.

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A heavyweight is born
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
A Behlana-based couple was blessed with a baby boy, weighing 5.4 kg, at a city nursing home this afternoon.

The wife of a Zirakpur-based property dealer Harbans Singh gave birth to the baby through normal delivery, surprising the gynaecologists and the parents.

Sarvpreet Kaur, who became mother for the second time, was the happiest when the doctors told her about the normal health of the “new-comer”.

A gleaming Harbans Singh said Sarvpreet was given a balanced diet during pregnancy.

Dr Kamna Nagpal, meanwhile, said the baby had showed some signs of respiratory distress because of prolonged labour pains. The baby has been put under close observation and tests are being conducted to clear doubts about any abnormalities, expected in the birth of heavy babies, she claimed.

This is perhaps the heaviest baby born in the city and surrounding areas till date, she added.

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Play safe — don’t lose vision to colours
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
Play with colours, but not with vision. Spring is here and so is the festival season. The festival of colours - Holi- round the corner takes a heavy toll each year. Children as always are soft targets and are more at risk. But adults are not immune to such injuries, claims ophthalmologists.

The Holi colours containing chemicals could pose serious threat to vision thus result into blindness. Dry and water colours, which form ‘essence' of Holi were most dangerous chemicals with synthetic materials, including heavy metals and lead - and there was no quality control in India, claimed Dr Rajan Chugh, a renowned ophthalmologist.

The Holi colours could cause corneal abrasion, infection and corneal ulcer could occur and jeopardise vision.

The home-made colours were the best and if you remember the history of the festival in ancient days when colours, including turmeric, flower-petals, wheat floor were used. Holi lovers used standard colours of proven quality to play with, he said.

Some tips for playing Holi are: Good oiling of skin before getting ready for splurge; coloured balloons filled with water should be avoided and if used they should be thrown from a shorter distance and not targeting the eyes. Serious eye injuries like retinal detachment and blindness can be caused in such accidents.

If coloon. Playing Holi with tinted large sized glasses is just not the fashion statement - it actually avoids eye injuries and colours going into the eyes. Don’t allow the colours to be in contact with your body parts - dry or wet for morur goes into the eyes then washing the eyes with plain water is must before consulting an eye surgee than an hour and take bath later.

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Army postal services to launch field postal orders
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
As part of its 35th anniversary celebrations, the Army Postal Service Corps (APS) will launch a new product, Field Postal Order (FPOr) through its Field Post Offices (FPOs).

The FPOr purchased from any FPO can be encashed from any civil post office or FPO by its bearer. This system would be much more convenient as compared to the existing system of remitting funds through money order or a bank draft.

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Social Welfare Association
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
The following have been elected office-bearers of Ward No. 21 Social Welfare Association: chairman — Mr Satish C. Sharma; president — Mr Romesh Sukhija; general secretary — Mr Jagdish Singh; joint secretary — Mr N.T. Singh; finance secretary — Capt (retd) K.L. Sethi; organising secretary — Mr Ram Avtar; legal advisor — Mr Amarnath Gandhi; secretary audit — Mr M.L. Sabharwal; chief patron — Mr S.P. Jand; patrons — Mr Kedarnath Sharma and Mr Jaswant Singh Chadha; and advisor — Mr Rajinder Mittal.

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Holi portal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
Airtel today announced the launch of a customised Holi portal for its pre-paid and post-paid customers in Punjab.

It would offer Holi recipes, festival songs, ringtones, hello tunes, greetings, poems and prank tips.

Bharti Airtel also brought down entry cost for BlackBerry users. The rental and the price of BlackBerry 7100g handset had been cut.

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Road fatalities decrease
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
A study conducted by the accident cell of the Chandigarh police shows a decrease in number of persons killed in road mishaps in the city in January and February this year compared to corresponding period in 2006.

A spokesman of the traffic police said 20 persons lost their lives on city roads till February end this year as compared to 25 during the corresponding period. In all 72 road mishaps were reported to the police this years in the first two months while 92 cases were reported during the first two months last year. However, number of persons injured exceeded during this period as 76 persons were injured than 74 in 2006.

It was further stated that the police has booked 14,150 offenders this year and realised Rs 29, 31, 250 as fine from them while last year 11, 245 violators were booked in 2006 in the corresponding period.

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Karnal resident held with 8.5 kg charas
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
The local police today arrested a Karnal resident from Sector 17 ISBT on the charges of carrying 8.50 kg of charas. The police said the estimated value of the contraband was about Rs 2.50 lakh.

Giving details, in charge of ISBT police post Pargat Singh said the accused, 30-year-old Rajbir of Karnal, was waiting for a taxi to board near the bus stand, when a police party noticed his suspicious behaviour. On being searched, the cops seized 8.50 kg of contraband from his possession.

He added that the accused was a drug addict and brought the contraband from Shimla and was on his way to Karnal. A case has been registered in this connection.

Theft

Narinder Sharma of Sector 28, Chandigarh, lodged a complaint with the police alleging that Rs 40,000 and some documents were stolen from his residence on Wednesday. In another incident, Subhash Chander Singla of Sector 44-B reported to the police alleging that a washing machine, wrist watches and other household articles were stolen form his residence on Wednesday. The thieves gained entry into the house breaking open the locks.

Two separate cases of thefts have been registered.

Snatching

Dhruv Kumar of Sector 23 reported to the police alleging that two unidentified scooterists snatched his mobile phone from near Sectors 22 and 23 traffic light point on Wednesday. A case has been registered.

Injured

Tarsem Rani of Sector 37 reported to the police alleging that a scooter hit her husband Janak Bahadur Rana near the Sectors 36 and 37 traffic light point early this morning. Her husband was seriously hurt in the mishap and was admitted to the PGI. The police has booked the scooterist, Narinder Kumar of Sector 37, on the allegations of causing injury due to rash and negligent driving.

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Motorcyclist held for pushing cop
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
A motorcyclist was today arrested for allegedly manhandling a woman traffic police constable, who stopped him for traffic violation.

The police said it happened when constable Santosh Kumari stopped a motorcyclist later identified as Manglesh Arora of Faridabad, while he was coming on a wrong side near Fun Republic. The accused started arguing with the constable and in the process pushed her. 

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Probe ordered against 2 CBI DSPs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
The civil judge (junior division), Balwinder Kumar, today directed the Chandigarh police to investigate the complaint of Bhim Sen against two DSPs of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

A follower of the Dera Sacha Sauda, Bhim Sen, in his complaint, had alleged that he and his brother Kuldeep were kidnapped and forced to give statements against the chief of the ‘dera’.

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Egg, chicken prices touch a new high
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
The 100 per cent increase in prices of maize (main feed for poultry animals) have led to a sharp increase in prices of eggs and chicken. With the government not willing to ban the future trading of maize, the prices have been escalating over the past one year.

This has not just led to a shortage in supply of maize for poultry, but also led to over 30 per cent rise in prices of all poultry products. While prices of egg have shot up to Rs 2.25 per egg, dressed chicken is available for Rs 100-110 per kg., and broiler for Rs 48- 50 per kg. In October last year, prices of poultry products had hit the rock bottom, with eggs selling at Re 1 per egg and chicken for as less as Rs 35- 40 per kg.

So, while these high prices of poultry products are burning a hole in the pockets of consumers, poultry farmers have a reason to celebrate. After a particularly bad year, following the bird flu scare in February, 2006, the poultry farmers in the country had suffered losses worth Rs 10,500 crore. Farmers say that they are now burdened with the rising prices of poultry feed, which constitutes 50 per cent of the input cost in poultry.

Sources in the poultry industry here say that though the prices of maize have gone up all over the world, in India the prices have gone up because of large-scale exports and future trading in maize.

“The price of maize has increased from Rs 600 a quintal to Rs 1000 a quintal while that of bajra (another ingredient in chicken feed) have increased to Rs 715 per quintal. Inspite of this, the government has refused to ban the exports of maize and futures trading,” says Surjit Singh Sagri, chairman of the North Zone Broiler Breeders Association.

His views are supported by Mr Ajit Singh, chief executive of the National Egg Coordination Committee (NECC).

He says that they have appealed to the finance minister to ban the forward trading of maize, just as they have banned it for wheat and rice. “Ever since forward trading was allowed in maize, the domestic market price has increased by 100 per cent, due to manipulation and hoarding by speculative traders and MNCS. The input cost for egg and broiler production has gone up by 50 per cent,” he says.

Sources informed TNS that the daily production of eggs in North Zone (Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar and Jharkhand) was 3. 5 crore eggs, while that of broiler is 2. 25 crore birds a day. The demand, however, is about 10 - 15 per cent higher than the supply - which is another reason for the hike in poultry product prices.

However, post bird-flu scare and declining demand, the poultry farmers in North India were forced to start moulting (stop reproduction by reducing nutritional intake) of layer hens and shunting down the broiler parent stock, said Mr Mahinder Arora “Pappu”, president of the Punjab Poultry Farmers Association.

“The just concluded wedding season and the low temperatures have contributed to an increasing demand for poultry products,” he said.

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FDI in retail sector opposed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
Opposing the entry of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the retail sector, city traders today urged the Chandigarh administration to spruce up markets to face challenges of corporates and shopping mall culture.

Office-bearers of the Chandigarh Beopar Mandal (CBM) alleged that FDI investment and entry of corporates would deal a death blow to small traders.

The authorities should strengthen traditional markets by beautification and upgradation of facilities and bring need-based changes in building bylaws, Charanjiv Singh and Diwakar Sahoonja, president and general secretary, respectively, of the CBM, said.

Alleging that traders had been ignored by the Chandigarh administration while making nominations to the municipal corporation, they demanded that traders’ representatives be accommodated in bodies of the administration.

Demanding proportionate reduction in central sales tax rates on the sale of goods from Chandigarh to Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, Singh said traders’ body would take up pending issues, including VAT rates, C-form, deemed assessment and assessees’ room in the sale tax department with the authorities.

Sahoonja demanded an end to ‘inspector raj’ and the relaxation of various norms governing traders.

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Income tax help centre at SBI
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
The help centre of the Income Tax Department at the SBI, Sector 17-B, was made operational today in order to provide information and assistance to the tax payers.

According to a press note, the help centre will remain open from 10 a.m. to 1.30 p.m. from Monday to Friday (except holidays) and provide assistance to people in filing income tax returns and guidance about tax-related matters.

The help centre has been set up keeping in view the closing of the financial year on March 31, which also happens to be the last day for filing income tax returns for the assessment year 2006-07.

The centre can also be accessed at telephone no 5074504.

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