C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S

A Tribune investigation
In Ind Area, liquor tin-sheds come for free
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 9
A large number of tin-sheds (approximately 72) selling liquor in the industrial area and the city periphery continue, even as the administration has thrown open the trade to all commercial areas of the city. While, industrialists pay a huge sum (Rs 20,000 per square yard ) for converting their industrial activity into a commercial venture, the tin-shed shops and ‘ahatas’ pay nothing.

  • Certain booths allotted to the "very poor" in rehri markets run liquor shops, which requires a huge sum for mere permission.
  • No police deployment near ahatas to check drunk driving cases.
  • An alarming up to 70 per cent accident causalities comprise those under the influence of liquor. 

A senior industrialist said: "Why this contradictory stand on conversion? In the first place, there is no point in allowing shops in tin-sheds. Second, let liquor store owners open in industrial area after paying the conversion fee, like us."

A senior UT official said:"Tin-sheds were allowed when the periphery had no commercial area. We have not allowed any new vends in tin-sheds this year. Approximately, 72 applications for the same have been received this year."

Panel raps cops

The Central Information Commission has pulled up the City police for not providing proper information on the Tobacco Act, 2003 and Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Rules, 2004 under the RIA by the Burning Brains Society.

"We have given them 30 days to shift into a pre-fabricated structure to improve the existing ones. No tin-shed will be allowed from next year."

There is virtually no security arrangements on roads near the ahatas. Hundreds of vehicles and two-wheelers can be seen parked along roadside near liquor shops and 'ahatas' on the periphery roads.

It is beyond comprehension why the administration is help promoting a trade, which is a big drain on the resources of the city and a burden on healthcare facilities.

Any victim of an accident caused due to driving after taking liquor beyond permissible limits results in several thousands being spent on his injuries. He spends a few hundreds on the liquor and ends up paying a huge sum on his treatment.

Intriguingly, there is no check on drunk driving near any of the "ahatas". Little wonder then police could challan only 17 persons for driving under the influence of liquor in the first three months of this year. Last year, 251 were challaned for driving under the influence of liquor.

Not only the police, even the administration, it seems, bends backwards to accommodate liquor vendors. For example, booths in various sectors which replaced rehri stands are now being allowed to sell liquor. Under rules, only those with limited resources can be allotted these booths. But now, those paying lakhs as license fee are running liquor shops from these booths.

As many as 200 liquor vends, nearly 120 of them with ahatas attached, dot the city which has a total area of 144 sq km. Besides liquor shops and ahatas, the city has as 100 other licensed sites - pubs, bars in hotels and restaurants and club houses - where people can consume liquor.

If doctors working in the emergency or trauma wards of the three main hospitals of the city - PGI, Sector 16 General Hospital and Sector 32 General Hospital - are to be believed, an alarming up to 70 per cent accident causalities comprise those under the influence of liquor.

Recently, the city witnessed a tragic mishap in which two bright professionals lost their lives when their car rammed into a roundabout in the wee hours. Claims of the Inspector-General of Police that free availability of "nasha" - liquor, tobacco and chewable gutka - has no direct bearing on the crime graph in the city notwithstanding, reports of brawls, clashes and road accidents during evening hours are on the increase.

Even in small doses, large damage

There’s a litany of impacts starting off with interference in the performance of every day function and ending with death at the other end of the scale. Chronic alcohol use damages just about every organ of the body but the biggest killers are heart, liver and stomach. Long-term usage is also associated with mental illness and even brain damage.

People who abuse alcohol aren’t physically dependent on alcohol, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, but their drinking patterns do cause physical, legal or personal problems such as:

  • Not taking care of responsibilities at school, work or home.
  • Drinking before driving a car, operating machinery, or in other dangerous situations.
  • Repeated legal problems related to alcohol.
  • Continuing to drink even though it causes or worsens problems with a personal relationship.

Alcoholism, also called alcohol dependence and alcohol addiction, is a progressive disease that can be treated but not cured.

There are four characteristics:

  • Craving makes a person obsessed with the idea of having a drink.
  • Impaired control is the inability to stop drinking.
  • Physical dependence makes people continue to drink to avoid withdrawal symptoms such as profound anxiety.
  • Tolerance occurs after long-term, heavy drinking, allowing people to drink increasing amounts of alcohol without getting drunk. But that doesn’t mean they’re immune to the adverse effects.

Dizzy Heights
A Tribune Debate

Alcohol joints have become the most happening places in ther Tricity. What should be done to safeguard the health of the people, especially the young?

Send your views — in not more than 300 words — to:

Dizzy Heights, A Tribune Debate, c/o The Tribune, Sector 29, Chandigarh 160 030 or email at news@tribuneindia.com by April 20, 2007



Bridge Hitch
Reopening put on hold
Pradeep Sharma/Tribune News Service

Dera Bassi, April 9
Bus commuters on the Chandigarh-Ambala highway will have to wait a little longer for the reopening of the Ghaggar bridge at Bhankharpur, near here. It was to be reopened for buses tomorrow.

Though repair work on the bridge has been completed, last-minute technicalities among various agencies involved in the project--the Mohali police, the National Highway Authority of India(NHAI) and GMR Ambala-Chandigarh Expressway--seem to have delayed its re-opening to heavy traffic.

“We have repaired the spans of the bridge and it is ready for being used by buses,” Col Sanjeev Puri (Retd), project head of GMR Ambala-Chandigarh Expressways Private Limited, the agency executing the four-laning of the Chandigarh-Ambala highway, said here today.

However, Mohali DSP (Traffic) Arun Saini said the authorities could not allow re-opening of the bridge till GMR made the traffic signals at Zirakpur functional for obvious reasons.

The authorities had set April 10 as the deadline for re-opening of the bridge for the benefit of thousands of commuters. However, the bridge was not to be re-opened to the trucks.

The bridge was closed to heavy traffic on August 14 last year following damage to certain spans. In fact, as part of the four-laning project of

Ambala-Chandigarh highway, construction of a parallel bridge to the existing one has already started. November 2008 is the deadline for the completion of the four-laning project.

Heavy traffic, particularly buses to Ambala, take a turn from Zirakpur and use the Banur-Tepla road.

The traffic from Ambala to Panchkula uses the Ramgarh-Barwala road.



Meeting on no-trust almost certain
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 9
An application demanding a special meeting to bring a no- confidence motion against the Mayor was handed over to the MC Commissioner today. The application signed by all 12 Congress councillors was handed over by Pardeep Chabbra, Congress councillor, this morning.

When contacted, PS Aujla said he had received the application and the matter would be examined. Sources said a special meeting of the house was inevitable as the demand for a “no- confidence motion against the Mayor” had come in by more than one-fourth of the councillors, the requisite number required to call a special meeting.

Mayor Harjinder Kaur, however, maintained that the move was politically motivated and she would abide by the law and do as required.

Meanwhile a deputation comprising Harmohan Dhawan, president of the Chandigarh Vikas Manch, Gurpartap Singh Riar, president Shiromani Akali Dal, councillors Jitender Bhatia, Vijay Singh Rana, Raj Kumari Mishra and Sarita Sharma and Davinder Singh Aulakh met the Commissioner.

The delegation asked him not to entertain the motion, which did not fall under the preview of the corporation. Dhawan and Riar said the Congress was un-necessarily making an issue.

Dhawan said Pawan Kumar Bansal, minister of state for finance, should take up the matter in Parliament and get the Union Territory status of Chandigarh confirmed by his government at the Centre.

The delegation said the Chandigarh Vikas Manch would oppose any confidence motion against the mayor introduced by the Congress.



Policeman commits suicide

Chandigarh, April 9
Tormented by prolonged illness, Balwinder Singh, a head constable of the Chandigarh Police, allegedly hanged himself to death at his Sector 41 residence this morning.

The police said the death came to light at around 8.15 am when his wife, who had gone to buy medicine for him, came back home. She saw him hanging from the ceiling with a dupatta. He left no suicide note.

The deceased was a munshi at the Dhanas police post. He had rung up his brother in the morning saying he could not cope with his failing health. — TNS



Grid attracts more passengers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 9
The number of average daily passengers has increased by 21.5 per cent after the introduction of low-floor buses on the grid pattern with a single fare of Rs 5 per trip.

This increase proves that low-floor buses and grid system have succeeded in their objective of providing better quality urban transport service to public and were becoming more popular.

The Chandigarh administration has no immediate plans to discontinue any grid route. The number of average daily passengers has increased from 61,400 in the old system to 74,600 under the new system.

The number of passengers increased because the new bus system was found to be a better option by persons using two and three-wheelers. The Chandigarh administration has no plans to increase the fare from the existing Rs 5.



Reversing ageing process
Gayatri Rajwade
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 9
Life’s like that. It can be turned on its head and that is precisely what Panchkula-based businessman Ramesh Varma professes to have mastered.

His three-volume book “Young at 100” teaches the curious reader how to reverse the ageing process by standing on one’s head, literally.

However, this is not all. The books, which were released at Chandigarh Press Club, Sector 27, today, turn even the theory of evolution on its head!

Examples abound from simple things like how cycling on bumpy roads without shock absorbers is a more effective exercise than stationary cycling to why there are seven days in the week instead of 11.

The more complex principles that get a new hypothesis are how this is a colourless world we live in to how the Big Bang theory of evolution is “not a possibility”.

The interesting part, though, is that the findings have not been verified by any medical or scientific body although the books have to be sent to places as far as NASA in the US to astronomical societies in Japan, to an “ageing research institute” in Australia and even the city’s health experts.

The books are a result of research conducted over 20 years by means of jotting down thoughts to established findings and putting his logic to a conclusive end.

“I realise it is not possible to get validation from the world so soon and there are going to be many skeptics too,” he declares.

The first volume deals with reasons for ageing and how to counter them.

As for the connection between the ageing process and astronomy, “to understand aging we need to understand birth and death, which leads us to the evolution of life on earth and how our solar system and earth came into existence”, avers Varma.



War Widow Case
Cops tried to evict Dalit
Kulwinder Sangha

Mohali, April 9
A fresh aspect of the case involving land allotted to a war widow in Swara village has come to light, raising suspicion of misuse of police power.

The 30-kanal land, which was allotted to war widow Mohinder Kaur in 2005, was in the possession of a Dalit, Lachman Singh, who has been tilling it for the past many years. The piece of land was allegedly purchased on ‘benami’ documents by former DGP S.S. Virk.

According to sources, Lachman Singh, who worked as a chowkidar in Sawra village, had got possession of the land under a government welfare scheme for SCs and STs. The land was later allotted to Mohinder Kaur under another scheme of the Punjab Government for the welfare of the kin of Army personnel who got killed in action. A legal dispute between Lachman Singh and Mohinder Kaur followed over the possession of the land.

However, the land was later allegedly purchased on ‘benami’ documents by the DGP through a property dealer Vijay Pal Singh. It is learnt that the DGP allegedly gave a cheque for Rs 50 lakh for the purchase of the land on November 5, 2005, and the registry was got done two days later for Rs 19 lakh.

Mohali SSP Ranbir Singh Khatra confirmed that Lachman Singh was in the possession of the land, which he had got under the Central Government scheme. He said the government had given unused land in villages to members of SCs and STs. Cases were registered against Lachman Singh and his son, he added.

Sources further said the misuse of police power allegedly began soon after the ‘benami’ purchase of the land to evict Lachman Singh.

On January 27 last year Prem Singh, a resident of Swara, complained to the Ropar SSP that the Kharar police had forcibly taken away his son, Devinder Singh and his tractor to the Kharar police station. Prem Singh said in a complaint that Devinder Singh had hired the land. He said he had been ploughing the land of Lachman Singh for the past more than 10 years.

Later, on February 8, 2006, Lachman Singh was booked on a charge of theft on a complaint of Vijay Pal Singh, a resident of Chandigarh. In the FIR registered under Sections 379 and 34 of the IPC, Vijay Pal Singh had stated that he had gone to Malaysia when he was told by Bikramjeet Singh, who was taking care of his land, that Lachman Singh, his son and more than 10 persons had taken away various items, including engine, bricks and barbed wire, from his land in Swara village.

Later, on November 15, 2006, a son of Lachman Singh was booked on the charge of trespass and damage to property on a complaint of Vijay Pal Singh. Vijay Pal Singh stated in the FIR that he had purchased 30 kanals of land from Mohinder Kaur and the registration of the land had been done in his name. He was in the possession of the land. He said when he went to have a round of his land, he saw Hardev Singh, son of Lachman Singh, cutting fodder on the land.



Bison calf born at zoo

Chandigarh, April 9
A bison gave birth to a calf at the Mahindra Chaudhary Zoological Park in Chhat Bir, about 20 km from here, today.

The zoo has two female bisons brought along with one male from Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens, Mysore, last year. The male had died on January 2 this year after prolonged illness. Chhat Bir was the only north Indian zoo to have bisons, zoo director Dharminder Sharma said. Mother and calf were stable. — TNS



Mohali needs proper dist courts

Mohali was given a district status in 2006 and is fast developing due to investments by multi-national companies. All offices of civil administration have started functioning here, other than judicial courts.

Although a judicial court was shifted from Kharar to a community centre Phase 3 B1, Mohali, in 2006, no construction of a permanent court complex has begun yet. Persons involved in cases of the district session judge court have to go to Ropar as the court is still functioning from there.

Moreover, the temporary judicial complex in the community centre does not have any facilities to meet the basic requirements. There is no parking place, no typist, no photostat facility and no canteen.

Why this discrimination in case of Mohali? When the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court laid the foundation stone of courts and chambers of advocates at various places, why was Mohali ignored? If chambers are provided to advocates of all courts, why not have a proper district court at Mohali?

Col B.S. Ghuman (retd)

Readers are invited to write to us. Send your mail, in not more than 200 words, at news@tribuneindia.com or, write in, at: Letters, Chandigarh Tribune, Sector 29, Chandigarh – 160 030



Tipsy youths attack journalists

Chandigarh, April 9
A group of inebriated youngsters allegedly assaulted journalists of a Hindi daily outside their office in Sector 25 late last night.

Aruvish Pathania, one of the journalist, suffered a cut on the lip, while others escaped with minor injuries, said the police.

Pathania was taken to the Government Hospital, Sector 16, from where he was discharged after receiving stitches. In his complaint with the police, Pathania said he was standing outside his office with his colleagues around 10 pm when a group of youths, apparently under the influence of liquor, came on motor cycles from Janta Colony, Sector 25.

One of the youths hit the complainant, following which other joined in and started beating him up.

Pathania’s colleagues came to his rescue and nabbed two of the fleeing assailants. Those arrested have been identified as Sanjay of Sector 25 and Sanjay Kumar of Sector 20.

They alleged that Madan, alias Topi, of Ram Darbar was the first one to assault Pathania. A case of rioting and causing injuries has been registered at the police station, Sector 11. The arrested were produced in a local court, which remanded him in judicial custody. The SHO of the police station, Sector 11, said raids were being carried out to nab the other accused.

Madan, who works as sweeper in the residential colony at the PGI, failed to show up at his job today.

In another incident of rioting, Dilraj Singh, a paying guest in Sector 15, lodged a complaint against Sukhwinder Sharma, Hukam Chand, a national hockey player, and others alleging that they had assaulted him at his residence with batons and rods last evening.

He suffered injuries and was admitted to the hospital.

The police said a case of rioting, trespass and causing hurt has been registered.

Sukhwinder Sharma and Hukam Chand have been arrested and remanded in judicial custody. — TNS



Car, bike stolen

Chandigarh, April 9
A car and a motor cycle were stolen from the city. Rajesh Garg of Bathinda reported to the police that his car (PB 03 L 2355 T) was stolen from Sector 44-A on Saturday night. In another incident, Pawan Kumar of Ram Darbar lodged a complaint with the police alleging that his Bajaj Pulsar motor cycle (CH 03 Y 5082) was stolen from his residence on Saturday night.

Two cases of theft have been registered. — TNS



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