C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Fun Republic case: Top guns ready with defence
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 16
The CBI will have to break through the line of defence raised by senior officials of the Chandigarh administration before putting them to interrogation regarding serious violations by the Estate Office in sanctioning building plans for Fun Republic multiplex at Mani Majra. Anticipating that the agency would seek clarifications, the administration has already built its argument around rules and regulations to justify its decisions, said sources.

The CBI contention that composition fee was wrongly charged at a rate of Rs 5 per sq ft instead of Rs 30 per sq ft and Form “B” issued so as to help the applicant escape penalty, despite violations at the site, has been contested.

After the CBI raid on February 21, a note on the facts of the case has reportedly been prepared. After the revised building plan of the multiplex was approved on April 16, 2004, a composition fee of Rs 28,11,180, levied under Rule 5 of the Punjab Capital (Development and Regulation ) Building Rules, 1952, was challenged by the owner, who sought clarification from the Finance Department. Following this, the composition was reduced to Rs 4,48,529. On the CBI stand that the SDO (Building) had issued Form “B” so that no penalty could be levied and a report of the JE had been ignored, the officials have argued that the form issued on June 19, 2006 , was not aimed at to waiving the condition of obtaining the completion certificate.

While getting the building plan approved on April 16, 2004, the allottee was asked by the Estate Office to remove the building violations so that building plan could be released. Barring three objections - the wall of a passage was being used for exhibition of paintings, the fourth floor used as Athena restaurant and offices and cabins constructed on the ground floor - other objections were removed.

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Monorail may be back on track
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 16
The Chandigarh administration has strengthened its case for a monorail in the city, connecting the adjoining towns of Mohali and Panchkula. At an important meeting in New Delhi earlier this week, the Centre has assured the administration that it would once again examine the UT proposal for a monorail. The ministry of urban development had rejected the proposal and said buses were the best option for the city roads.

The Centre is likely to appoint a new consultant who will submit its report within three months on the type of mass rapid transport system best suited to the city. "It has been pointed out that the RITES(Rail India Technical Economic Services), the agency engaged for consultancy services, only specialised in rail modes. We need to study the alternatives,” a senior official said. “We have argued our case, underlining the requirement for a monorail as the best option for future city transportation. The RITES had prepared an exhaustive report on the project, taking into account the city area, population and scope of growth. The Ministry of Urban Development has also agreed to relook into the matter”.

The administration is arguing its case in defence of the proposal largely in context of unmanageable proportions of traffic on the city roads incase of increased buses. “Except for a couple of city roads all city roads are double laned. Incase of increased buses, they will require two lanes for a smooth flow. It will be a difficult way out on the existing roads. Even going to Panchkula can become difficult. The roundabout can go”, an official said.

A report of the RITES had said “for implementing High Capacity Bus System, a complete reengineering of the roads will be necessary and the existing services like trunk water lines, sewers and storm water drainage will need relocation” which was difficult. It has been pointed out that “it was suggested at one point of time that the existing roads be broadened. Incase, this was done the green cover of the city will be drastically reduced. The trees will go and the roads will touch the boundary wall of the houses. Not just that, broadening of road will mean the footpath and cycle paths will also vanish.”

An earlier communication from the Ministry of Urban Development in December 2006 had said that the assumptions made for ruling out the bus service were not “consistent with the available facts. 

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Get your dream flat, but pay for it
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 16
The metro culture in terms of realty is finally coming home with the launch of the first super luxury residential project by Uppal Housing in the tricity at Mani Majra. These apartments, priced at Rs 1.33 crore-Rs 1. 59 crore, have created ripples in the real estate market.

A three-bedroom flat in the adjacent Rajiv Vihar is available at Rs 60 lakh, while a 14-marla plot in the plush sectors of Panchkula are available for Rs 1. 50 crore. Realtors feel that depending on the success of these flats, the real estate prices in the vicinity of this project could go in a tizzy.

Says Subhash Mangat: “If the apartments in Marble Arch are a success, it will affect the real estate prices in Mani Majra and Panchkula. Though the apartments in Marble Arch are a different genre, the price tag could have a ripple effect on the property prices in nearby areas. This will not be in the interest of investors”. With industrialisation of Baddi, Dera Bassi-Lalru and IT revolution in Chandigarh and Mohali, the city is finally ready for such a metro residential project, say realtors. “The elderly persons living alone in bungalows would like to move into apartments from the safety point of view. Also, NRIs looking forward to invest in Chandigarh will find this good investment,” says Amarjit Sethi.

Though the realtors in the tricity feel that the prices are unrealistic and promoters will have to eventually scale these down, the latter maintain that they have already sold 35 per cent of the 170-odd flats.

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Dead HIV+ youth felt let down by PGI
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 16
Nineteen-year-old Devinder, who committed suicide yesterday, was keen on a job on one of the HIV/AIDS projects at the PGI. But he never got that job.
“He was bright. He had cleared his plus two and wanted to be an outreach worker in the project.

But the job went to an illiterate HIV + person,” said the partner of the deceased. Devinder had stopped commercial sex activity due to persistent pain. He had stopped concentrating on the Mauli Jagran project, where he worked for a while. It got him only Rs 1,500 and was very demanding. The PGI project in question, incidentally, seeks to study mental functions of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHAs). It is funded by the National Institute of Health, US.

Devinder was under counselling at the psychiatry department. Normally, an outreach worker in an HIV project should be a graduate or XII pass to be able to counsel others and handle paper work, said a functionary at UT AIDS Control Society.

For Devinder, the job was as much a passion as a requirement. The last time Devinder met the counsellors in Sector 15, he asked them why his case was not considered .

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Sunil case: Tests rule out rape

Chandigarh, March 16
The Punjab Police will seek the production warrant of Sunil Kumar, the school teacher allegedly involved in the abduction of two school girls of Government Senior Secondary School, Sector 22, here and his servant Satish and wife Manju tomorrow.

The police was expected to get the warrant from a Mohali court today. The medical examination of Chamandeep, one of the girls, has ruled out rape. Her medical examination was conducted at Government Multispeciality Hospital, Sector 16, on Wednesday. The medical report of Nisha is awaited. According to Nayagaon SHO Mahesh Kumar, preliminary reports by doctor have ruled out the possibility of sexual abuse. 

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Infrastructure Watery rotary this!
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 16
The water pipeline under the Sector 29-30-31-32 rotary continues to be a bane of the city’s waterworks system. For it has been needing constant repairs owing to frequent leakages for the past several years. Officials blame loose earth at the rotary for the problem.

The patch has witnessed major renovations in the past. “Claims notwithstanding, the audit of the expenditure on maintenance works on the spot will be interesting to see,” Naresh Sharma, a frequent traveller on the road, said. A portion of the rotary dug four days back for repairs, saw the completion of work yesterday.

Dinesh Kumar, working in industrial area, said: “The leakage keeps appearing every now and then. I have witnessed this on at least five different occasions in the past three decades.” The municipal corporation’s engineering wing had to use special vehicles to drain water from the area this time. The problem was compounded by heavy rainfall during the week. A senior official of the corporation said: “We are aware of the problem and are looking into a long-term solution. The pipeline carrying potable water is very old and the earth cover at the place very weak. The pipeline gives way due to heavy traffic movement.” “There is no threat to the overall supply of water. The only long-term solution is to have a new and a bigger pipeline. The matter has been discussed several times. The problem is compounded by the fact that it is a V3 road and its closure for traffic is not easy.” Another official pointed out that “there are certain pipes that leak or are sensitive. The pipeline on the transport chowk has also given some problems in the past. I think the administration needs to make the earth cover stronger, even if it means closing the road for brief periods and working out alternative routes.”

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First IAF woman officer on UN mission
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 16
The Indian Air Force is sending its first woman officer on an overseas peace-keeping operation under a United Nations (UN) mandate. Wing Commander Alka, a medical officer, will be part of the second IAF contingent proceeding to the Democratic Republic of Congo on March 18.

“Though women Army officers have in the past been deputed for UN missions, this is the first time that an Air Force officer is being sent on such an assignment,” an IAF official spokesperson said. He added that Wing Commander Alka was posted in Delhi.

The IAF contingent, being led by Gp Capt Alok Kumar, has been tasked to provide air logistic and air surveillance support to the ongoing UN operations in Congo. The 280-strong force will operate the Mi-17 utility and Mi-35 attack helicopters, which played a vital role in the recently concluded elections in the strife-torn African country.

Helicopter operations in a volatile environment place a high demand on the peace-keeping personnel. The terrain and existing infrastructure in the region make logistics operations by air an imperative. Personnel proceeding for the mission have been given intensive training and briefing for the task ahead.

The IAF’s long history of participation in UN peace-keeping operations began in 1962 when the IAF sent a flight of Canberra bomber aircraft as part of the United Nations operations in Congo. Thereafter, the IAF contributed helicopter element in Somalia in 1993 and at Sierra Leone in 2000. In 2004, the UN approached India to contribute an air element for its operations in Congo. Consequently, the IAF operates two aviation contingents at Goma and Bukavu in Congo, besides an Indian Airfield Services Unit (IASU) at Kindu in that country.

Women from Indian law enforcement agencies will be playing a greater role in ensuring peace in the world’s trouble spots. A circular received here from the Ministry of Home Affairs recently stated that women officers were to be given preference by their respective organisations while nominating personnel for United Nations peacekeeping missions. This was for the first time that such a directive was received from New Delhi.

Besides women officers from law enforcement agencies, a number of women officers from the Army, particularly the Corps of Engineers and the Army Medical Corps, have been able to participate in peace-keeping missions. According to reports, the number of women officers from the Indian armed forces serving in conflict zones under the UN mandate in 2006 was 18, the highest ever.

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Army launches field postal orders for troops
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 16
The Army Postal Service (APS), in association with the Department of Posts, today launched the field postal orders (FPOr), which will serve as a more convenient and cheaper alternative for troops to remit money to their families as compared to the money order or the bank draft.

Releasing the FPOr at Chandimandir today, Lt-Gen Daljeet Singh, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Command, stated that this financial instrument of money remittance would not only be a more convenient but also a more secure mode of transferring funds available to the troops, especially those posted in the field areas. The launch of this service, he underlined, fulfilled a long-felt need of the armed forces personnel.

Chief post master general (CPMG), Punjab and Chandigarh, Manjula Prashar, who was present on the occasion, said sending money through the FPOr would be cheaper than money orders as the commission charged on FPOr ranged from 0.45 per cent to 1.5 per cent as against 5 per for money orders. Moreover, it was easier to encash the FPOr in any post office anywhere in the country. 

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Gallantry awardees’ function today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 16
About 150 gallantry awardees and their kin are expected to attend the triennial convention of the War Decorated India (WDI), an association of those who have been decorated with Param Vir Chakra, Maha Vir Chakra and the Vir Chakra,here tomorrow.

Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal and defence service welfare minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh will address the inaugural session of the convention held once in three years. General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Command, Lt- Gen Daljeet Singh, will attend the non-session, WDI president, Brig Sant Singh (retd), said.

Issues pertaining to the welfare of decorated armed forces personnel will be discussed at the meeting. 

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Illegal kundis at IAF Station
150 structures demolished
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 16
A case of alleged use of kundi connections has come to light at the Indian Air Force’s 12 Wing Station here. The losses caused by the theft, allegedly by the Military Engineer Service (MES), are believed to be running into several lakh rupees.

The illegal power connections were detected last week when an enforcement team from the UT administration, following a tip-off, noticed a connection on a high-tension line on a pole opposite the General Reserve Engineering Force (GREF) office, near the civilian airport. UT chief engineer V.K. Bhardwaj, said: “We are aware of the matter and have taken up the case with the Air Force authorities. They are looking into the matter and will submit us a report at the earliest.” He said the department had detected the theft very recently and the raid was carried out immediately. Air Force authorities, however, contend that the Military Engineer Service is responsible for the supply and distribution of power. A senior IAF officers said they had written to higher authorities as well as Headquarters, Western Command, under whose control the MES establishment concerned fell. It is believed that an internal tiff among the MES staff led to the lid being blow off the case.
The military authorities are also investigating the matter to ascertain the facts of the case. Chandigarh, March 16

Over 150 illegal structures were demolished in Sector 40 C by the Chandigarh Housing Board here today. The structures include balconies, stairs and boundary walls. At least five illegal rooms were also razed. SDO (enforcement) Kailash Garg said: “We have demolished encroachments on the government land.” The demolitions started around 10.30 am and continued till after 6 pm. The demolitions were carried out in the area with houses falling between Nos. 2001 and 2430. The board will continue with the drive next week. Residents of the area protested against the demolitions. An official said: “The structures are illegal and have to be removed. We have given them enough time to make amends.” — TNS

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City needs urban arts panel, says welfare body
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 16
The Federation of Sector Welfare Association (FOSWAC) has ridiculed the Chandigarh administration for trying to scuttle the move of the ministry of home affairs to set up the urban arts commission.

The association, in its monthly executive meeting, resolved that an independent and autonomous group, in the form of an Urban Arts Commission, should be constituted to promote coordinated development of the city. It was also demanded that the administration refrain from changing the existing land uses.

The problems which need to be addressed by the administration are the deteriorating conditions of sanitation, menace of stray cattle, constitution of ward committees, construction of community centres, and improvement of public transport, said M.C. Sanghi, chairman of the association. 

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General holds court with children
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 16
Used to commanding army stations and now city administration, holding court with children was a welcome change for Gen S.F. Rodrigues, Governor of Punjab and Administrator, Chandigarh.

More than 200 children in the age group 4-15 who are part of various social development projects run by the Durga Das Foundation had come together at a lively function organised for them at the vibrant activity sports complex of Strawberry Fields World School this afternoon. A special day for the children, where there was a puppet show, bouncies, tattoo artists, music and a sumptuous spread of food, laughter and gaity filled the air.

Atul Khanna, director of the foundation said: "We always look for special days and occasions to celebrate. We are extremely fortunate in having a growing community of philanthropic individuals who are coming forward to give away something of themselves. From this is born today's occasion, where a parent, Shirom Lamba, expressed a desire to do something." In the recent months, the foundation has held several such events with children from the underprivileged sections, labour colonies, street children and those living in the slums. “ Exposing them to achievers and leaders gives them hope and confidence. It shows them another life,”, says Atul Khanna.

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Geyser burst in Sec-45 house
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 16
A tragedy was averted as no one was present when a geyser burst in a house at Sector 45-A here today.
The blast was so powerful that all doors and windows along with door frames were broken. It also caused cracks in the walls of the house.

The occupant Amarjit was busy in some work in a shed erected outside in the courtyard when the incident occurred. Her husband, an Air Force employee, had gone to his office.

According to Amarjit, the geyser was not on as they never use it. The police visited the spot to investigate the matter.

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Contractual staff’s pay fixed

Chandigarh, March 16
The Chandigarh administration has fixed consolidated pay for those appointed on contract. The development comes close on the heels of the administration stating that “it was facing difficulty in fixing of contractual amount as dearness allowance is revised from time to time”. Those appointed in the scale 2,520-4,140 will be paid Rs 4,600 per month; scale 2,720-4,260 will get Rs 4,900; scale 5,800-9,200 will get Rs 10,400; scale 9,200-13,900 will get Rs 16,500; and scale 18,600-22,100 will get Rs 33,300 per month. TNS

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PGI body office-bearers

Chandigarh, March 16 
The following have been elected office bearers of the Association of Hospital Attendants of the PGI: president-Nita Mallick; senior vice president-Manohar Singh; vice president-Randhir Kumbra; general secretary-N. B. Saxena; secretary-Alok Tiwari; additional secretary-Gurnaib Singh; propaganda secretary-Roop Lal; cashier-Rakesh; press secretary-Kailash Joshi. TNS

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Banker loses Rs 7 lakh to conman
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 16
An employee of the State Bank of Patiala, Sector 5, Sanjeev Sharma, was duped of Rs 7 lakh here today. The incident occurred in the afternoon when Sharma was on his way to deposit the money meant for payment to societies.

Sharma said he left the bank around 2 pm and went to his office in Sector 11. Unable to get a parking place, he parked his car on the roadside. “While I was still seated in the car, my mobile rang and I began attending to the call. A man in front of me kept indicating that I should look beneath my car. When I ignored his gesture, he came closer to the car and again indicated that I get out and look under my car,” the banker said.

He got out of the car while he was still busy on the phone. He saw a number of Rs-10 notes scattered around. “As I was just trying to understand from where these notes had come from, the man hastily opened the car door and took away my bag containing the money.” Sharma said the thief was about 35 years old, had wheatish complexion and was of 5.5 feet height. 

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12-yr-old girl raped
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 16
A 12-year-old girl was raped by two boys late last night. According to a complaint lodged with the police by the father of the victim, a labourer residing in Raila village, the girl was "picked up" by the boys while she was on her way to work.

"She works as a maid in nearby houses. She left the house as always and didn't come back till this afternoon. It was then that she told us the horrendous tale of her rape. She is in a state of shock and is not talking," the father said. 

“The boys approached her on the pretext that they could get her work in two more houses nearby,” he added. The girl told the police that she was taken to a jhuggi near the Ghaggar riverbed, where she was raped by the boys, Sonu and Rakesh. This morning, she was brought back to Sector 12 where one of the boys kept a vigil on her. By early evening, she began to cry aloud, which scared the boys away. The police has registered a case. The boys are yet to be arrested. 

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Euros 1,000 stolen from hotel
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 16
At least euros 1,000 were stolen from room No. 201 of Hotel President here. The money belonged to Banier Sartison, a resident of Sector 8. The police has registered a case under Section 380, IPC, at police station, Sector 26.

In another case, the local police has registered a case of theft on the complaint of Saroj Suri of Sector 15. Saroj alleged that silver ornaments, including four bracelets, two earrings, one tie pin along with seven ceiling fans, one LPG cylinder, 20 sarees, and kitchen and bathroom faucets were stolen from her house.

Car stolen: A Maruti car (HR 01 Y 2052) was stolen from Sector 33 on Wednesday night. The police has registered a case on the complaint of Raj Hans, the owner of the car, at police station, Sector 34 under Section 379, IPC.

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One dead in factory blast

Panchkula, March 16
Twenty-five-year old Rajinder, an employee of Venus Pharmaceuticals here died at the PGI, Chandigarh, today. He and another employee of the company were injured in a blast that occurred while they were mixing chemicals at the plant last night. The victim was a resident of Pipliwala in Manimajra. A case was registered. TNS

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UT tourism affiliates with leading companies
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 16
The coming year may witness an increased inflow of tourists to the city as leading international travel organisations have agreed to tie up with Chandigarh Tourism to ensure a constant stream of visitors from India and abroad. Tie ups were approved principally with the International Travel House, Wanderlust, Sita Travels, Swagatam and others, along with European outbound top travel groups at ITB Berlin, recently.

India was the partner country at the ITB Berlin this year and was represented by all states and Union Territories. The director tourism, Vivek Atray, represented Chandigarh Tourism at the fair. Brochures and CDs about Chandigarh were distributed.

After the visit, a detailed action plan was worked out for the promotion of the city. As per the plan, Chandigarh Tourism will tie up with select companies for the distribution of memorabilia like magnets, key-rings, flags, cards, souvenirs and, cards, t-shirts, pens, mugs, mouse pads, etc.

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