C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Admn to go ahead with acquisition
272 acres for phase III of IT park
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
After clarifying its stand to the Centre on the acquisition of 272 acres for phase III of the Rajiv Gandhi Chandigarh Technology Park, Mani Majra, the Chandigarh administration is going ahead with its plan to acquire it.

The request of land owners in the Kishangarh area to exempt their land from the acquisition has been turned down after home minister Shivraj Patil was briefed on the issue by senior officials in the administration.

In the last week of February, the officials were called to New Delhi to clarify their stand on the issue following a memorandum submitted by the Mani Majra Farmers Welfare and Environment Protection Society to the Centre.

Members of the society, who also owned land in the area, had been lamenting that a major green cover was under threat due to the acquisition.

The compensation rates offered to the evacuees and the profit being made by the administration on selling the land to private players had also been questioned.

Sources in the administration said after briefing the minister, the UT Finance Department issued notices under section 6 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, on February 28.

The 272 acres was being acquired in two parts. Objections of land owners had been invited in December, 2006. The acquisition process was to likely to be completed by March, 2007.

Explaining its position to the minister, the administration stated that exempting the land from acquisition would undo the process for the planned development of the area.

On the issue of compensation, it was stated that the land owners could go to court under section 18 of the Act for the enhancement of compensation.

The administration was paying around Rs 70 lakh per acre as compensation to the land owners.

Justifying the need for creating the world-class facility, it was stated that the IT park had so far attracted an investment of Rs 500 crore.

The total investment would touch the Rs 5,000 crore mark and the annual software export was expected to reach Rs 1,500 crore.

The sources said it was been stated in a strongly worded reply that the acquisition was being questioned by some vested interests.

Such projects could not be scuttled because of the interests of influential persons.

A report of the Forest Survey of India was quoted to show that the forest cover and the area under plantation had increased.

It was alleged that one of the land owners, in association with a real estate developer, had sought the change of land use for an information technology park, multiplexes and a night club.

The sources said details of the owners whose land was being acquired had also been studied by the administration.

Justification given for acquisition

* Exemption from acquisition to affect planned development.

* Around Rs 70 lakh per acre as compensation being paid.

* An important project as it will boost economy.

* Holistic development a need to boost employment.

* Appreciation of the project by the Prime Minister.

* Vested interests questioning land acquisition.

* Some land owners wishing to earn money from change of land use.

Land owners’ points of concern

* A major green cover under threat.

* Loss of an approximate 50,000 full-grown trees.

* No immediate replacement in sight for removing the green cover.

* Violation of the spirit of the Punjab New Capital (Periphery) Act, 1952.

* Affecting a sizeable rural population.

* No proper rehabilitation and monetary relief as per market prices for evacuees.

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Road rage claims life
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
The blood-smeared body of an unidentified man in his mid-twenties was found under mysterious circumstances beside the road separating sectors 22 and 23 this morning. An autorickshaw driver, who saw blood marks and the body, informed the police.

The police said the death was the result of a hit-and-run road accident. The victim’s face was smeared with blood and forehead and head bore injuries. There were no other visible injury marks.

He was wearing blue trousers, two shirts and a grey jacket. A screw driver-cum-electronic testpin was found in his pocket. No other document, which could help in identifying the victim, was found, said the police.

Blood marks were spotted within about 100 feet on the road, indicating that the driver of the vehicle tried to take the victim to a hospital, but then dropped the idea and dumped the body about 15 feet from the road.

Scratches on the road indicated that the victim might have been hit by an autorickshaw. A pool of blood was found at the spot of the accident and another where the body was dumped.

A police official said the blood marks on the road indicated that the victim was carried in an open vehicle. The police found another pair of blood-stained trousers behind the bus stop near the traffic lights on the road separating sectors 22 and 23.

The body was shifted to the General Hospital in Sector 16. Efforts were on to identify the victim. A case of causing death due to rash and negligent driving was registered.

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Gaganjit Barnala case
Prosecution drops cop as witness
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
In another setback to police investigations in the high-profile rape case involving former MLA of the SAD from Dhuri Gagangjit Singh Barnala, the prosecution today announced to drop Chandigarh Police constable Bhamma Devi as witness.

The constable, who was then posted at Sector 3 police station, is said to be a crucial witness to the happenings at the Sector 16 General Hospital where the maid was admitted on August 12, 2006.

When the case came up for hearing before Additional District and Sessions Judge Ravi Kumar, the public prosecutor announced to give up the witness as her statement was unnecessary in the case. The statement of SI Maninder Singh was also recorded in the court.

The constable was accompanying ASI Sarabjeet Kaur when the initial investigations in the case were started by Sector 3 police station. The defence counsel stated that the official video cameraman, who recorded the statement of the victim, had not been called so far by the prosecution.

She also demanded that the statement of the three doctors, Dr Amandeep Kaur, Dr Satwant Bhalla and Dr Bidhu, should be got recorded by the prosecution at the earliest.

It may be mentioned that on December 15, 2006, the victim retracted from her previous statements made before the police and had also feigned ignorance about the identity of the suspect.

Denying that she was raped by the MLA, the maid during the in camera proceedings in the court of the ADSJ had stated that she had suffered an abdominal injury after falling from her bicycle and thereafter she started bleeding. She also did not corroborate her previous statements of being raped, as recorded by the police in the main challan and two supplementary statements.

The defence counsel stated that a weak prosecution, coupled with lack of evidence, had weakened the case. Despite previous claims by the police of having video recorded the preliminary statement of the victim, no video CD was produced in the court. The investigating police officials had also failed to produce the clothes supposedly worn by the victim at the time of her alleged rape.

In the documents produced before the court, ASI Kaur stated that the preliminary statement of the victim had been recorded on a video camera. But the video CD was not produced in the court.

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Sack orders of six art college teachers revoked
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
The Chandigarh administration yesterday revoked the relieving orders issued to six teachers of the Chandigarh College of Art, who were taking masters in fine arts (MFA) classes following a strike by the college students. The administration had yesterday relieved the six faculty members who had been working on contract in the college for the past two years and were teaching MFA students.

Both MFA and bachelor of fine arts (BFA) students gathered outside the college last morning and staged a dharna outside the college gates. They blocked the entry of the college teachers into the college and raised slogans against the Chandigarh administration.

The teachers tried to argue with the students explaining the situation, but the students were insisting that this act of the administration would lead to loss of an academic year. The college has 30 students in MFA II and another 22 in MFA I. The MFA I students, who were admitted in December 2006, were just three months into the session. The teachers taking their classes were relived as it was felt by the administration that there were enough teachers in the college to teach both BFA and MFA classes and the services of these contractual employees were not required.

The matter was resolved when head of department of the college Daljit Singh, who is the chief general manager, CITCO and holds the additional charge of the CCA, arrived at the college to defuse the situation. The students were asked to allow their teachers to enter the college and after some deliberations it was announced that the six teachers would be brought back to the college.

One of the affected teachers Dr Maneesh Arora confirmed that they had received a letter from the administration withdrawing its earlier order. “We met the home secretary this morning and were assured that the matter will be solved finally and regular appointments made to the college,” he said.

Another group of teachers in the college alleged that these six teachers had browbeaten the administration into withdrawing their reliving orders. “The college already has more staff than required. There are 23 teachers taking BFA classes when only 16 teachers are required. The college had already recruited teachers to take BFA and MFA classes. These teachers were kept only for six months but they had been taking the administration for a ride. Now the CAT orders have made it clear that they can be removed if they are not required, but they are misinterpreting the CAT orders,” said a teacher belonging to the other group.

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IL-76 on a new high
5,000 stranded persons airlifted in a day
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
Creating a record of sorts, IL-76 heavy-lift transport aircraft from the IAF’s 25 Squadron here airlifted 5,000 stranded persons on a single day during the ongoing Operation Hamsafar in Jammu and Kashmir.

Not only this, a single air crew carried out as many as nine landings in the same IL-76 in one day while carrying out shuttles between Jammu/ Udhampur and Srinagar.

The aircraft returning home to Chandigarh at night constituted the tenth landing on the same day, which is an unprecedented number.

“It is highly unusual for an aircraft of this size to make so many landings,” an officer from the Chandigarh Air Force Station said. “We do not recall having made so many landings in one day before this,” he added.

Three IL-76 aircraft from this squadron were tasked to airlift stranded people from airfields in Jammu, Udhampur and Srinagar. Smaller AN-32 aircraft from 25 Squadron and 48 Squadron were also pressed into service.

Officers at 12 Wing here say that never before, even during natural disasters like the Jammu and Kashmir earthquake, tsunami and rescue operations during unprecedented snowfall over a year ago, were so many persons airlifted by IL-76s in one day.

A few months ago, an IL-76 from this squadron had also flown into Beirut, carrying 25 tonnes of relief material.

Flown by Wg Cdr N.V.M Unninathan and Wg Cdr J. Narula with Wg Cdr D. Suri as the navigator, this was the first time an IL-76 had operated in a war zone since the 1991 Gulf War when Indian nationals were evacuated from Kuwait.

Since there were no refuelling facilities available in Beirut, stopovers were made at Cairo. The aircrew was also in constant touch with Indian officials in Beirut through satellite phone to ensure that ground conditions were conducive for landing.

Sources said the Beirut airfield had been bombed and all three runways had been damaged, with a stretch of just around 2,000 m on one of the runways available. The ideal length required for the landing run is 2,700 m. Using their skill and training, the crew executed a “short-field landing” and managed to touch down within the available distance.

According to an IL-76 pilot, they train regularly for short-field landings, as some of the airfields where these aircraft fly to within the country have short runways. Take-off from Beirut was also tricky and the crew had to restrict the on-board load to cater to the short runway available.

The IL-76 aircraft is capable of trans-continental flights and is used for strategic airlift. It equips two IAF squadrons, No. 25 at Chandigarh and No. 44 at Nagpur.

The IAF is also in the process of upgrading these aircraft and those that have been sent to Russia for major overhaul have had their rear gun turrets removed. This has reduced the aircraft’s weight, enabling more cargo or fuel to be carried.

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Standing water damages wheat crop
Tribune News Service

Lalru, March 3
Wheat crop on hundreds of acres of land was damaged on account of accumulated rain water in the Lalru area following the construction of a boundary wall by a real estate company constructing multi-storyed flats at Jharmari village, near here.

In fact, the affected villagers had shot off a representation to the Dera Bassi Tehsildar demanding strict action against the construction firm and compensation to the affected farmers.

Villagers alleged that the boundary wall had blocked the drainage of water from the fields damaging the crop. The construction of the boundary was to blame for blockage of the water from the fields, Kuldip Singh, whose crop in about 40 acres of land was damaged, said here today.

Jharmari is not the only village affected by the ran water. Other villages, where the crop had been damaged include Jarot, Kakru, Mandro, Kantholi and Sangotha. The construction company and other real estate firms had purchased large chunks of land in these village for the realty projects.

And there seems to be no end in sight to farmers' problems. Bhajan Singh and Amar Singh alleged that they were stopped by the PSEB officials when they tried to drain out the water with the help of electric motors.

The farmers urged the Punjab Government to assess the damage to the crops and restrain the company from blocking the rain water.

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Youth dies, foul play ruled out
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
A 24-year-old man died after allegedly consuming some poisonous substance at his house in Maloya village this morning. Quoting members of his family, the police ruled out foul play.

It said the victim, Ranjit Singh, accidentally consumed the substance. He was rushed to the General Hospital in sector 16, where doctors declared him brought dead.

The victim’s father, Ajmer Singh, requested the police to hand over the body without postmortem examination, which was acceded to.

Ranjit had been running a bicycle shop in the village and was unmarried. His father had retired as mechanic from the Haryana Roadways.

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Tribune lensman hurt
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
Senior Staff Photographer of The Tribune Manoj Mahajan was hurt this morning after his motorcycle was hit by a Scorpio SUV belonging to former education minister Tota Singh. Mahajan suffered a fracture in his right hand besides suffering bruises on legs. Tota Singh was travelling with his private secretary, body guard and a driver when the mishap took place.

The accident took place at the Sector 20 and 21 Traffic light point. The SUV (PB-29-G-0004), which was coming from the Sector 18 and 19 side, jumped the red light and collided with the motorcycle. The other vehicle stopped after the mishap. Mahajan was on his way to office and he was wearing helmet. He took some time to regain consciousness.

After regaining consciousness, Mahajan called his friends and he was taken to the GMCH-32. He was discharged after being administered first-aid.

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Preparations on for Spring Fest
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 3
Spring Fest, the annual extravaganza hosted by the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA), is all set to take off on March 10 at the Town Park, which is being spruced up for the occasion.

While the horticulture wing of HUDA is busy giving it a facelift, the authorities are going all out to make it a lively fest by roping in cultural troops to entertain the public.

The lush-green garden, spread over an area of 15 acres with over 20 varieties of seasonal flowers, promises to offer a feast to the eyes with fresh flower and dry flower arrangement contests which will be conducted on day one. Entries of potted plants are likely to be a big attraction and a number of rare varieties of flowers and plants will be on display.

A variety show by artistes from different states and a cultural programme by schoolchildren will be organised to add colour to the festivities. SE horticulture Jogi Ram said that all competitions including those for the best garden in residential and institutional categories and best roundabouts will be judged on March 9, a day before the fest begins.

While there will be a painting competition, rangoli contest, mehndi contests, a baby show will also be organised given the tremendous response it has elicited in the past. All stalls for the fest will be organised outside the park.

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STUDY ON DRIVERS
Epilepsy, drug intake behind most mishaps
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
Poor knowledge about traffic rules and epilepsy among drivers have emerged as a major cause of road accidents involving state transport buses and private carriers in hilly states in the region. These, coupled with smoking and drug and alcohol intake, have contributed to high rate of accidents.

This was revealed in a study conducted by Dr S.K. Bansal, a former associate professor of neurology, PGI, Chandigarh.

According to the study, the numbers of persons driving public transport vehicles despite suffering from epilepsy is quite high. Driving was an important aspect of modern day living. Changing lifestyle and ever-increasing traffic had further complicated the problem, he said.

“A good driver needs to have dynamic visual acuity, good depth perception and peripheral vision, darkness adaptability, normal colour vision and glare resistance besides very good reaction time. Intoxicants increase the reaction time of a person, thereby increasing the chances of road accidents.

Dr Bansal examined around 100 drivers and conducted EEG tests on them. Many of these persons were driving school buses, Himachal Roadway buses and their own light or heavy vehicles.

He felt that a number of limiting factors like apprehension of losing job, superstitions etc. forced them to conceal these facts. Moreover, many drivers were overworked, drove overcrowded buses, had poor knowledge of traffic rules and used intoxicants while driving. Many of them suffered epileptic fits off and on, but did not disclose about these to anyone and were continuing to drive heavy vehicles.

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Dowry harassment: Cop, family booked
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
The local police today booked a constable and four members of his family in a dowry harassment case.

Complainant Tara Bhatri, constable’s wife, told the police that her husband and in-laws had assaulted and stabbed her at their residence in Sector 46. She was admitted to the Sector 16 General Hospital.

Constable Surinder Kumar, posted in the UT Police Headquarters, his father Constable Jagdish Lal, brother Constable Narinder Kumar, both in UT Police his mother and sister-in-law have been booked for demanding dowry and assault.

Tara Bharti said Surinder had been demanding Rs 2 lakh. She also alleged that on Thursday also they thrashed her.

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Punjab officer’s pocket picked at Badal‘s swearing-in ceremony
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 3
The pocket of an additional secretary to the Punjab government was picked during the swearing-in ceremony of the Parkash Singh Badal-led SAD-BJP ministry at the PCA stadium here yesterday.

D.S. Saroha, a resident of the Punjab State Education Board Complex, Sector 68, in a complaint to the police, stated that his purse was stolen by someone during the course of the ceremony.

A case has been registered.

Three booked

The police has booked three persons on theft charge.

Ujjagar Singh, a resident of Chotti Karoran, alleged that Rajiv Bajaj of Chotti Karoran, and Tarsem Lal and Gogi, both residents of Nadda, stole 12 cemented poles and 50 kg of hedge wire from his land. A case has been registered.

Chandigarh
House burgled

Ravi Kant Yadav of Sector 61 filed a complaint with the police alleging that one gold chain and Rs 40,000 were stolen from his residence during this afternoon. He told the police that the thieves gained entry into his house by breaking open the lock. A case has been registered.

Four held with 8.5 kg charas

The local police arrested four persons on the charges of carrying 8.50 kg of charas. The operation cell of the Chandigarh Police said Abilash, Surinder, Siya Ram and Varinder were arrested from near Tribune Chowk on Friday and 8.50 kg of charas was seized from them.

A case has been registered in this regard.

Smack seized

The local police today arrested Madan Lal of Dadu Majra Colony on the charges of carrying 3 grams of smack. A case has been registered in Sector 39 police station.

Motor cycle stolen

Dhiraj Kohli of Jagadhari lodged a complaint with the police alleging that his Hero Honda motorcycle (HR-02-G-2890) was stolen from the industrial area on February 28.

A case of theft has been registered.

Gambling

The police today arrested Dharambir of Sector 25 from near gate number 3 of the Panjab University on the charges of gambling at public place. The police seized Rs 1,295 from his possession. A case under the prevention of gambling act has been registered.

Mobile snatched

Harish Thapa of Sector 11 reported to the police saying that two unidentified scooterists snatched his mobile phone in Sector 34 this afternoon.

A case has been registered in Sector 34 police station.

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PNB holds customer meet

Zirakpur, March 3
A customer meet was the highlight of the shifting of the Punjab National Bank branch to fully-computerised premises here today.

Speaking on the occasion, ID Singh, General Manager, said the PNB, with a total business of over Rs 2,18,000 crore, was a premier banking institution in the country committed to excellence in serving the public. — TNS

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